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Archive for the ‘Love of God’ Category

by Jim Gordon

We hear a lot about Christian Nationalism lately. I had never thought much about it before, but with all the talk about it in the news, it is quickly becoming a popular topic.

I have to say, I love my country. The United States is the only country on earth I would prefer to live in, although it certainly is not perfect. Yet the United States falls way short compared to the Kingdom of God.

The problem seems to be that we hear more and more about some Christian people wanting to get officials elected that will make laws and force supposed Christian values as laws of the land.

It seems many Christians are making more out of the kingdom of the United States than they are the Kingdom of God.

I recently read an article about a new bible called The God Bless the USA Bible, in which the constitution, bill of rights, declaration of independence, pledge of allegiance and the words to the song God Bless the USA are written inside. It also has an American flag on the front cover. No different than having a pastor or celebrity autograph a bible, putting a specific country’s national writings in the bible is no good and completely out of place.

For some reason, many of those involved in the Christian church seem to think that America is a Christian nation. They seem to think that America is God’s chosen nation and they need to force biblical values on everyone.

The fact is that America is not God’s chosen people. It is not a Christian nation, but made up of people from all faiths and religions. God does not just love the people of the United States, but God so loves the world. He loves all people, all nations, all faiths.

What happened to seek first the Kingdom of God? What happened to the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount on how to live for God and how to treat others?

In Christian Nationalism, America itself seems to be the center of attention and hope for the world rather than Jesus. It seems to me that people are trying to make America into an idol and trying to force Christian precepts as the law of the land. This should not be.

It was extremely hard to watch the events of January 6 where people illegally stormed the Capitol of the United States and caused damage, injuries and even death. Even worse, many of them were carrying Christian flags, Christian slogans and were seen praying and thanking God for such an event. There certainly is no love in any of that, and no caring for others.

It seems many put more emphasis on political power in the United States and making Christian rule the law of the land than they do following the example of Jesus by loving all people and focusing on the Kingdom 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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by Jordan Hathcock

“Give me that old-time religion. It is good enough for me. It was good for my old mother. And it’s good enough for me” – Old Time Religion by the Fisk Jubilee Singers

Religion (say it with me now). Dude, such a compacted noun! It’s been a platform for human interaction since the dawn of time. Oh the things that have been done with this word. You either love or hate religion. In many cases, people define religion as just one particular construct. I don’t think it’s that easy. When we look at the term, there are really three types of definitions: 1.) worship in a higher power, 2.) a belief system and 3.) secularism. All Peoples (Christian, Muslim, Jews, Atheists, Agnostics, American, Democrat, Republican, Black, White, LGBTQ, etc.) fit in these three definitions of religion in one form or another, in my opinion. Let’s look at these three definitions, shall we?

Worship In A Higher Power

Worship is a very interesting word when it comes to its usage of etymology. In a religious traditional sense, the ones who relate to God/gods through (not solely) sacred scripture (Torah, Christian bible, Quran, Vedas, etc.), the term worship boils down to various acts of homage. This can be demonstrated through “rites and rituals”: raising hands and singing through music, praying x amount of times per day, blood sacrifice, offerings, etc.

This is done in order that the God being worshiped will grant blessings, peace, bliss, etc. This is where it gets dicey. What if different religions don’t adhere to the same type of worship? History shows, the reaction to different worship in God leads to vicious boundary lines in which people who don’t tow them eventually get hurt or killed.

If we don’t conform we are doomed. This “controlling power” has been detrimental to our evolution as a species. All religions from every tradition have committed this monstrosity. “Might is right” or “survival of the fittest” (controlling power) is not how to live as a social structure. Jesus showed another way of doing worship: In spirit and in truth. His worship was internal to better understand the truth of reality–thus, bringing about outward action. It was also non-sacrificial. This way let’s go on becoming people who scapegoat our dark side onto the shedding of innocent blood. He said “deny yourself”, as in letting go of our ego (controlling power) which then will lead us to a healthy way of doing worship (which literally means “worth” or  “adore”) to God AND creation (I.e. existence).

In other words, love each other and help the helpless for f sake! So does all the human race “adore” the cosmos? I would say the majority do in one way or another, indeed. This is where the term religion still plays an important part of bringing about a peaceful existence in the universe, in my opinion. 

A Belief System

Putting trust in a way of seeing the world can be a very productive instrument within a community setting. As the individual seeks out paradigm shifts and inner contemplation, this will enable her/him to progress in a social setting. Education, careers, sports, church, family, etc. all are wrapped in how the individual trusts in what he or she is pursuing. No matter what discipline we take on, faith in “the process” takes shape and becomes our mode of being.

The downfall to this thinking is believing that our faith system trumps another’s faith system. This brings about endless contention that leads to factionalism. This is most destructive when a faith system becomes the ideology of a country. This is where lives are lost in the name of civil religion. We can’t take it if someone else’s beliefs are different from ours so we put up barriers and blockades: KEEP OUT! We will never learn from each other if we cast out one another for not thinking the same way. We need to learn to become a community that is united in its diversity if we ever want to thrive as a species.

Jesus hung out with the outcasts and the prestige of society. He spoke truth into both spectrums. His belief system offended and healed. But, no matter what, he didn’t let his beliefs get in the way of interaction with others who didn’t see eye to eye.Is it good to have a faith system? Yes! It’s whether or not we let our faith systems be measuring sticks to cast out others or let them be beacons to help others when they need it most.

Secularism

Where do we find the most interest/importance in? Sports? Family? Church? Career? Friends? Parting? Drugs? Sex? The list goes on and on in the world of secularism. What we put our interest in, really shapes our day-to-day experience with others. If we get caught up in an interest that leads to positive streams of progression and stability, that’s great! But even that can turn sour if that is only helping us and nobody else. Same is true for interests that don’t help oneself or others. This leads only to death and destruction. It takes great wisdom to find an interest that really provides growth and joy for all parties in one’s life. So, what interest is best?

In his book: Seculosity, author David Zahl put it this way:

“The objects of our seculosity—food, romance, education, children, technology, and so on—aren’t somehow bad. Quite the opposite—they are by and large great. It’s only when we lean on these things for enoughness, when we co-opt them for our self-justification or make them into arbiters of salvation itself, that they turn toxic…

Poking fun at our secular pieties, including my own, is part of disarming them.” Pg. xxiii introduction-Seculosity 

That’s it! Seeing our sense of humor as important helps us not to take our interests so seriously. We have to realize that we are all connected in one way or another. This isn’t only true for the human race but for all of Gods creation. To the smallest molecule to the humpback whale, what one does and invests in, has and effect on all. Does our interest bring life or death (dramatic I know)? It really does come down to that simple question. Or this one (better question): “For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?”

***

So, is religion evil? It can be. Is religion good? It can be. Regardless, we cannot deny that religion is ingrained in us as a species to better understand and create our reality. I think we can’t cast it out or just let it be that same old-time religion it always has been. We need to explore, progress, and hold onto whatever this religion “thing” has to offer. I think something new awaits! This is where healthy religion shines—where laughter springs out of the wallows and we become liberated from our driery selves…

Alan Watts said it best:

“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”. 

Jordan Hathcock began writing as a regular guest blogger and has been a great addition to the site. He also writes at his own site called Hazy Divinity He can be contacted by email at: jrhathcockss@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

The institution of marriage is such a great comparison to life with our Father. I think we often miss some good points about marriage that directly relates to life with God. So many times we do not associate marriage with Kingdom meanings.

Actually, marriage is a shadow of spiritual things. Ephesians 5:31,32 states, ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church’. The church being mentioned here is not a building or an organization. The Church are the people who are one in Christ. It is not a weekly meeting, it is a living organism made up of those of us saved by grace. I also believe that just because husband and wife are used by the writer in this verse, it also means any two people who love one another and commit to one another because of that love.

I find it amazing that we are considered to be one with God. It is hard to imagine that the Spirit of God lives within us. Jesus said when he left the earth that he would send us another comforter. Through his Spirit, he came to make his home within us and he is constantly with us.

In John 17:21 Jesus is making a request of the Father about us, asking that ‘they may all be one, even as You Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me’. Seems to me it is truly a marriage made in heaven.

Now this is not saying we are God, but we are one with God. The best way I have found to make sense of this is to think of marriage. When two individual people fall in love, make a commitment to love each other and live together, the bible says the two are joined together as one.

Does that mean that the spouse becomes their partner, that they somehow become the same person? No, both people remain individuals, yet they live as one. Same with us and God, we are still the person He created, yet because God loves us and we love him, he has made his home with us and His spirit lives within us. We are one with God.

We always think of God sitting on a big throne, way off in heaven somewhere and that one of these days we will go and meet Him and live with Him forever.

The thing is, that is not what His written word tells us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, God’s physical dwelling place on earth. His Spirit dwells within us and He will never leave us nor forsake us.

We do not have to wait to a future time when we live with God in some far-away place. We are living as one with Him in His Kingdom right now because the Kingdom of God is within us. We are his temple, his dwelling place and each of us are equally important parts of his body.

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 Mike Edwards

I am not suggesting God-folks become “judge” freaks. I am reacting to the claims of many that the Bible was written so that people must have certain beliefs to avoid Hell and God’s wrath. Many scholars now recognize that the Bible’s main message is expressing God’s desire to have a relationship with each and every individual in this world to face inevitable challenges. See here.

If judgment is necessary, shouldn’t we judge one by their character rather than their color, gender, religion, or beliefs in God? It’s hard to know why some believe in a God and not others. Neither is hardly a personality flaw. I doubt a loving God plays favorites, giving some the feeling to believe and not others. If God is real, they are big enough to make their case with each individual. But it is a universal principle, except for the selfish, that we ought to treat others like we want to be treated.

It is a myth that those who don’t believe in God are rebellious or in denial

It just isn’t true that those who aren’t into God deny reality to justify their immorality. Not my friends! Some Christians’ morality is suspect! Let’s not accuse those who put their faith in God as needing a crutch or accuse those who question the reality of an invisible God as desiring to excuse their actions. If wrong to doubt God exists, Christians sin if they doubt God in tough times.

A good God surely doesn’t judge one according to their religion

God isn’t a God of chance! John Hick wrote: “…in the vast majority of cases, probably 98 or 99 per cent, the religion to which anyone adheres (or against which they rebel) depends upon where they are born. When someone is born into a Christian family, they are very likely to become a Christian, whether practicing or nominal; when into a Muslim family, very likely to become a Muslim; if into a Buddhist family, to become a Buddhist – and so on round the world” (Who Or What Is God, p. 73). Some misunderstand God due to certain claims made by Christians. See here.

God-folks and Christians please…….

Let’s stop judging others who don’t share our same beliefs in God. I was taught as a child there was a Creator. I was also taught many views of God that I now hate. I have no idea why I didn’t rebel against the whole idea of a God. Let’s encourage others to consider what kind of person they want to be deep down or wish their parents or friends were. One’s belief and desire for help is between God and each person. My story is I am a better husband, father, and friend than I normally would be because of the insights, encouragement, and forgiveness that I sense from my Creator.

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

There is a very common saying used in regard to the violence and killings that have been making the headlines. It is heard on TV, online and in the newspapers. The saying is ‘our thoughts and prayers are with you’.

It actually sounds really nice, but unfortunately that is the problem, it only sounds good yet does nothing to help make a difference or to cause change.

So often people say this because they do not know what else to do. I certainly believe in prayer asking God for peace and comfort for the people involved. I also believe in seeking guidance from God for things that we can do that will help make a change.

Many people use this saying because they do not think they are able to do anything to make a change, and often they do not want to make the effort to make changes. So they make themselves feel better by saying our thoughts and prayers are with you.

In James 2:16 we have a similar situation when people would say “go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet they did not give what was necessary for the person in need, and what good was that? This falls right in line with James 2:26 which says, for just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Obviously good works do not earn our salvation, but good works will be a result of our salvation. To put it another way, we can say that love without works is dead. Saying you love someone but doing nothing to put that love in action is not real love.

Using good sounding words usually only makes the one saying it feel better. But putting action to our words can make a difference and truly shows love and concern to those who are hurting.

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 Mike Edwards

I don’t write to push God on others. I am convinced God is big enough to make their own case with those seeking more of a connection with their Creator. I just know God has made me a better husband, father, and friend by their influence. I enjoy discussing my journey with those so inclined. Even if it turns out God doesn’t exist, what have I lost by living a life with fewer regrets.

One might argue the biggest obstacle Christians put in the way of others interested in pursuing God is hypocrisy. If you treat people like dirt, I doubt you are being influenced by the God I know. Most folks though understand no one is perfect. But if Christians fail to admit or confess their faults, good luck discussing your relationship with God with others.

Claims I consider false, made by Christians about God, may be the greatest problem. It is said:

  • Evolution can’t be true and God couldn’t have used evolution in the creative process
  • Women can’t be pastors or priests and wives should be more submissive to husbands than husbands should be to their wives
  • God condemns gays who are naturally attracted to those of their same sex and God forbid they get married
  • God is going to burn in hell forever those who deny God here on earth Most humans wouldn’t even justify such torture for their worst enemies. To Hell with those who grew up in a family of another religion that believed in the golden rule
  • God before creation elected some to be God’s children and the rest can freely go to Hell
  • God can control evil, despite creating freedom, thus in reality God controls how much each suffers
  • God can magically answer your prayers and if God doesn’t, you must have some hidden sin or not praying the right words
  • God can tell you to love your enemies but supposedly God can command the killing of women and children as in the Old Testament. Maybe the writers didn’t understand God fully at the time
  • If you are an atheist or not all-in about God, you are simply being rebellious to justify living selfishly
  • You don’t really love God if you don’t attend the institutional church on a regular basis

It is claimed the Bible is all about avoiding Hell rather than God desiring to have a relationship with you here on earth to face challenges inevitable in an imperfect world.

Do you doubt any of the above claims? Most if not all of the above beliefs come from one’s understanding of a Book. It is seldom admitted Christians disagree in good conscience about the above claims in the Bible about God.

Besides, many act as if it can be proven that God controlled or approved all that is claimed about God in the Bible, that God somehow magically download their thoughts and words into the writer’s brain.

Do you wish you could get more into God but certain claims are a problem? Don’t believe everything you hear. God surely gave us a brain and moral conscience to decide evil from good. If God is evil in any way, that is a God not worth believing in!

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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(And We All See Things Differently)

by Jim Gordon

It has always amazed me how some Christians can be so argumentative. They just do not know how to accept one another’s differences in doctrine or interpretation.

Following Jesus is based on loving God and loving others. Yet we have nearly 40,000 different denominations, mainly because we cannot agree and accept one another.

People will argue and defend their doctrines and interpretations, and then get mad when others disagree or have a different viewpoint. Even when they partly agree, they feel the need to point out where each other differs because they think that their way is right and everyone else is a little off.

I understand that people are not going to agree on everything, and that each of us have a little different way of seeing things and understanding things. The problem is that many go too far when they let these differences separate them. They want to keep in their own particular group, which they usually feel is the more correct way to believe, and do not want to associate with others. This should not be. Each of us can have our differences and still not separate ourselves from other brothers and sisters in Christ.

In a sense, we are all people of faith. No one can prove beyond a doubt that their way is right. People have faith there is a God, or faith there is not a God; faith in the after-life and heaven, or faith there is no hell; faith in reincarnation, or faith that there is just an end to our existence. None of us can prove or disprove any of it, yet many are ready to fight and argue amongst themselves trying to defend their viewpoint and interpretations even when they cannot prove anything.

No matter what we believe about God and spiritual life, none of us can prove our beliefs. It is all by faith.

As mentioned in the Bible, we walk by faith not by sight. For me, I choose to put my faith in a God who created me and loves me, a God who has provided freedom from sin and who has come to make a home within me so that I will forever be in His presence.

I also respect the rights of others to feel differently. I do not think it is my responsibility to expect anyone to believe the same as me, or to put their faith in the same things that I do. It is the Holy Spirit who draws others to God. It is the Spirit who teaches us and leads us into truth. My responsibility is to love and accept everyone as they are, and be available for God to show godly love through me.

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

For those of us who grew up in the church, most understand the difference between the Old and New Testament. Yet we seem to be confused over the new testament and the new covenant.

Many of us believe the new covenant began with the book of Matthew. The fact of the matter is, there is a big difference between the New Testament of the Bible and the New Covenant.

The Old Testament talks a lot about life before Jesus came to live on earth. It contains the Old Covenant Law God made with the Jewish people. This Old Covenant continues beyond the Old Testament of the Bible and into the New Testament.

What many people are not taught is that the New Testament is not entirely the New Covenant. Jesus taught for thirty-three years under the Old Covenant Law. His sermon on the mount and the beatitudes showed the impossibility of completely keeping the old covenant law, and it showed the authority Jesus had over the law.

When Jesus died, the old covenant was fulfilled and came to an end. When Jesus arose, a new covenant began which restored fellowship between God and the human race. This new covenant was no longer based on laws and rules, but it was freely given to us through grace.

The problem now that the new covenant is in effect is that many of us want to continue to live by the old covenant law and mix it with new covenant grace. The fact is we no longer live by the old covenant law. We no longer have to worry about the 10 commandments or the 603 other laws that were given to the Jewish people. Does that mean we can now live as we please and do whatever we want? Well, we can but it is not in our best interest to do so.

We now live by love through the grace of God. When we truly love God, there are no rules or laws that we need to keep to make things better. We love God, therefore we want to do what pleases God. It is a life of freedom, not to do anything we want but freedom to love and have fellowship with God apart from any rules and regulations on how to do so.

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

How many of us have passed a church building and saw a sign out front that says ‘Everyone Welcome’?

When I see one, I always wonder if they really mean what they say. I have seen so many congregations over the years get set in their ways and enjoy the people who are “regulars”, but what would happen if everyone did come to their church?

What would the thoughts and feelings be if a gay couple walked in, or a few prostitutes decided to come in for a service. What if a group of homeless people walked in to hear the Sunday morning message? Would everyone be truly welcome? And remember, these are not people who are sinful people, they just wear the wrong label for most church attendees.

We know that Jesus welcomed everyone, literally, and mostly those who the religious folk did not want to have any association. Jesus met with and cared for the people who probably would not go to an organized religious meeting (what we call church), either because they would not be welcome or because they just did not think they would fit in.

Maybe that says something about our organized church of today. Maybe we have become so involved with religion and the proper way of doing things that we have lost our first love. Could we be so caught up in the trends of modern religion that we forget our relationship with the God of the universe? The God who told us to love one another.

Maybe we need to concentrate more on living in fellowship with Christ on a daily basis, loving Him and loving others, and not worry so much about what building we go to on Sunday morning….if we go at all. The true Church is not a building, and it does not matter which day we meet or where we meet. The Church is a community of believers who live for Him each and every day. We should not be focused on a building nor an organization, but on a daily walk with Him.

To love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love others as ourselves fulfills the law. We no longer need to worry about obeying the old covenant law or the rules and regulations the denomination has set up. We now live under a new covenant which went into effect at the death and resurrection of Jesus. We now have the Living Word within us through the Holy Spirit. We no longer need any man to teach us the ways of God, because now the Spirit is our guide.

It is time to put our focus back on our first love, Jesus. It is time to live out our relationship with God on a daily basis, not only on one day. Living as a follower of Christ is a daily way of life. We are to love God, love others, and be prepared to give an answer of the hope that is within us to those who ask us. I pray we are all letting the love of God show through us so that others will be drawn to Him and feel welcome in his presence.

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 Mike Edwards

I have written A Book About God – God May Be The God You Hoped For!  after over 45 years in my journey with God. I write briefly on different views in hopes you will be encouraged to explore your own convictions. Many are rightly turned off by what others claim about God. Don’t believe everything you hear. You may discover a God worth believing in.

What To Know About God In A 100 Words!

One could say it takes as much faith to believe there is a Creator or there is no Creator. If you have any inclination to believe there is a God, this is what I think about God in hopes to whet your appetite to read further.

A Creator must be the furthest thing from evil to claim to be God. We can’t know God perfectly according to the Bible because literature requires interpretation, and we don’t know if the writers understood God perfectly initially. Most sense a morally perfect God, parent, partner, or friend is not a sexist, sadistic torturer, angry egomaniac, homophobe, warmonger, freedom denier like terrorists, hater of atheists, etc. God is likely the kind of God you imagine a good God would be like. If true, God surely desires to help you become more like the person you deep down want to become.

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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