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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

No matter what your lifestyle, what you choose to believe, how you accept things none of us will ever completely agree with anyone else. As believers, we would not expect those who do not follow the christian faith to agree with everything we think and say. Yet, we also know that other christian people will not agree with everything either. We have so many denominations in the christian world and none of them can agree completely. But this is all OK, we are all individuals who see things differently. The last thing I want is to make people feel I expect everyone to see things my way.

I think those of us trying to follow Christ should be able to accept one another, believer and non-believer alike, talk with each other about how we see things and still be respectful and kind. We are to be known by our love, but unfortunately, that just is not the case most of the time.

No matter if we are gay, straight, christian, muslim, jew, hindu, atheist, asexual, baptist, methodist, charismatic or whatever label people put on us the underlying fact is we are all human beings. We all deserve to be treated with respect and be accepted. We each should be able to live our life and make our own choices without being condemned by others. We should be able to discuss our differences respectfully, and none of us should try to force our views and choices on another.

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of name calling and disrespect among different groups of people over time. Christian people saying God hates gays, and atheists are of the devil, people being afraid of muslims, one denomination wants nothing to do with another denomination…this is all sad and wrong.

If we could look past the labels and see each other as people who overall want the same thing, to be happy, to be loved, be healthy, get our bills paid and enjoy life I think things would be better even with our differences. This is not to say we have to agree with everyone and associate with everyone and be happy together, that just is not going to happen. There are too many different thoughts, ideas, beliefs, ways of life and personalities for us to agree on everything and be totally comfortable with everyone, yet accepting each other and respecting each other in spite of our differences certainly is a possibility.

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When you read about the life of Christ in the gospels, you see someone who loved people. He did not disassociate himself from any particular group, nor did he turn away anyone or think he was better than others. Jesus showed the love of the Father by caring for people, talking with people, eating together, healing people and not condemning them. The only crowd he had a problem with was the religious leaders of the day who thought they were so much better than everyone else because, in their view, they kept the rules. Their reasoning was they did not do the ‘wrong’ things and they did the ‘right’ things. They did not associate with the type of people they thought were less religious and unworthy of God’s love. Jesus was always getting on their case for being so religious they were of no earthly good to the Kingdom of God.

Speaking of all the different views and ways of life, I can remember when I was young and growing up in the organized church how I always stayed with people of similar belief. I do not know for sure if I was actually taught this or it was just a common belief I picked up, but I felt I needed to stay away from people of different views and ways of life. I thought it would be great to work in the church system or for a christian bookstore as a job, then spend my off-time in church services and doing church work. That way I would always being around someone who saw things pretty much the same as I did.  This way I would not have to be around ‘those’ people, whoever ‘they’ were. I still see this in the church today, a separatist mindset.

Sound familiar? So much of the traditional church setting is based on separation from those who think differently. This usually brings a feeling of superiority, being separated from those who need to see God’s love in action and living a Pharisee-type lifestyle. (Pharisee: strict observance of religious ceremonies and practices, one who adheres to laws and traditions, self-righteous or hypocritical person).

Compare that to the life of Jesus we read about in the gospels, a person who loved people, was not condemning or unkind, hung out with those who the religious crowd did not want anything to do with, spent time eating and drinking with the non-religious crowd and truly cared for others.

I know we all see things differently. We will not all agree on things and we have no way of proving our point in regard to spiritual matters. Yet I think it is time the christian ‘religion’ comes to an end and Christ-like people begin to daily show the unconditional love and acceptance of God to everyone.

Jesus said to love God and love one another. He did not say love only those who live in a way you think is right or with who you completely agree. Love people the way God loves them and agree to disagree rather than judge and condemn.

Share your thoughts in the comments below

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by Jim Gordon

It is hard accepting the fact that God lives within us. We have been taught that if we live our lives trying to follow the commandments and do good things, one day we will go to heaven and live with God face to face. We have an image of God sitting on a throne way up in heaven and here we are, far, far away down on earth.

We talk about going to a meeting and the Spirit showing up, or being at a specific place because God is there. We pray and talk with God, yet we wonder if our prayers are even getting to Him.

The more I read, I am finding that we really have the whole thing backwards.

The Old Covenant has been fulfilled in Christ and we are now living under a New Covenant. We no longer have to try to be good enough. The law was a tutor that led us to Christ, but now that Christ has come we no longer need a tutor. We are free from the law and the Spirit of God now lives within us.

Jesus came to live among us and show us the love of God. When Jesus left, he said he would send us the Spirit. God has now come to live within us. Jesus said the kingdom of God is within you. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we have the mind of Christ. Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would be one with God just as he and the Father are one.

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Sounds to me that we are missing the main point. We do not have to wait to die to go to heaven and enjoy kingdom living. We do not have to wait to be united with the Father. We no longer need to look to a human guide, teacher or preacher. We have the living, powerful, perfect Word of God living inside us who is our teacher and guide.

There is nothing wrong with listening to others, getting their thoughts and ideas and being encouraged by other believers, but we do not need to rely on other humans. We have the Spirit within us, teaching us and guiding us in the way he has for us.

We do not have to look up in the sky to some far-away place and wonder if God is listening. We can turn our thoughts inward and realize the Spirit is right there within us, listening, loving us and ready to teach us as we begin to hear his voice from within.

We are all at different stages along the path we walk with him. We need to remember none of us have it all figured out. We so often want to fight and argue from the understanding we currently have without realizing that we have not reached completion. There is more the Spirit wants to teach us as we become ready to accept it.

We should come to accept each other where we are currently, realizing what we know and believe today will more likely be different a little further down the road. We can love each other, learn from one another and accept each other as we are, just like Jesus loves and accepts us just as we are.

We should be looking deep within ourselves, listening for the voice and guidance of the Spirit. We should not put all hope in others and those we think are more spiritual because they have been trained, educated or paid to do so. Remember, we are all kings and priests and have the same Spirit within us. Each of us are equal and important parts of the body with Christ as the head. His Church is not a building, not a denomination but the people.

This is not saying we are God, but the Spirit lives within us and we are one with our Father. It would do us all good to start focusing on this fact rather than what we were taught that it is a future event after we die. Kingdom living is now. Listening to the Spirit, being taught by him and living day by day in communion with the Father is a reality that we all need to realize.

Share your thoughts in the comments below

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by Jim Gordon

We are at that time again when many of us have the hope of new beginnings. We make resolutions to do things that we want to accomplish during the new year.

When a new year begins, we tend to focus on making positive changes, start new things and forget the mistakes of the past.

It is never a bad time to be ready for positive changes and to make a new start in your life. Fact is we can do this every day. Each new morning brings a brand-new day and a fresh start.

As we start off another new year, focus on what you want to change in your life for the better. What new projects do you want to start or what would you like to accomplish in the new year.

Do not get discouraged and give up. That is the easiest thing to do and many of us do just that within a month or two into the new year. I have talked with people who made a bad choice or a stupid mistake and get all upset and discouraged. I always tell them you are at the threshold of a new beginning. Today is a new day, start again and do not give up.

Remember that we do not have to focus on sticking with whatever it is for the whole year. Focus on each day being a fresh start and a brand-new day to live and accomplish those things you have always wanted to do.

Happy New Year to each of you and may each new day be a fresh start for positive change during the year.

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by Jim Gordon

When it comes to accepting others most of us Christian people are quick to say yes, we are accepting. But we find many times we are accepting of only those who believe the same way we do.

If someone comes from a different faith, no faith or different way of life, we would rather argue with them and defend our way of thinking trying to prove they are wrong or unworthy.

When looking at the way Jesus lived, we see a life of loving others and accepting those who the religious crowd did not like. He was kind, loving, forgiving and caring to all he came in contact. It seemed his main conflicts came from the religious self-righteous leaders.

Jesus walked with the prostitutes, the demon possessed, the heathen, tax collectors and people who the religious crowd felt they should stay away from. Today we seem to think we have to stay away from those who are different or doing things we disapprove of to prove how righteous we are.  Yet we never see Jesus doing such things. He enjoyed spending time with people from all walks of life. He got in trouble with the religious people of his day for living this way, and we find this still happens today when we accept people just the way they are.

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Fact is, each and every one of us could have a label or something that someone else would think is wrong. Rather than being judgmental and pointing out to others what we think is wrong, we should seek what God has for us and then show the love of God to everyone we meet. After all, we are not called to point out the sins of others and say what is and what is not sin. We are called to love God and love one another.

Jesus never said to separate from people. He said to go into all the world and preach the gospel. We do this by living a life of love, acceptance and allowing the love of God to touch people right where they are.

It seems to me rather than fight and argue over doctrine, interpretation and belief we would do better to love, accept and show compassion. This certainly does not mean we have to agree with everyone but we do not have to fight and defend our way of thinking.

Many of us think we have it all figured out and our way of faith is the only way. We think we have to persuade others to come to our way of thinking or they are doomed to hell. As we grow in the Spirit over time, we come to realize we were wrong many times in interpretation or belief, so why should we be telling others what is right and wrong and how they should believe? This should be something between the individual and the Spirit within.

I am not sure any of us have it all figured out, in fact I know none of us do. We all have room to question, learn and change. I know my wife and I are doing more questioning than we ever did and we are finding new truths as we walk daily in the Spirit.

When it comes down to it, we should be open to accept others no matter what their way of thinking. People want to be loved and accepted, they want to be happy and get along with others. When we get all religious and defend our point of view it does more harm and drives people apart more than anything.

My wife and I have been asking God for strength to accept and love everyone. No matter what they believe, what their faith or doctrine is, no matter their religion, nationality, sexual preference or color we want to see them as Jesus sees them. This is a type of love we cannot do on our own. It is only possible by the love of God within us. We want to love, accept and care for people. Naturally we will not always agree, but we want to look past those areas and love them in Christ.

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We feel this is the way that others will come to see the love of God, not through condemning and bashing them. Not in trying to prove we are right and they are wrong, not trying to change them or trick them into coming to our way of thinking.

Love does not mean seeing eye-to-eye, it does not mean we agree or always like some of the things people do, but it does mean we look past the differences and love them as Christ loves them. We see them as human beings equally deserving of love, respect and acceptance.

Let’s try to look past the labels and see people who have feelings, who want love and friendship, people we can get to know, learn from, share thoughts and ideas and accept as human beings who were created in the image of God.

Acceptance does not mean total agreement. It is showing love to people, respecting them and accepting them for who they are without an ulterior motive of trying to change them.

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by Jim Gordon

We all know people who are the ‘in-your-face’ type people. You know, loud, sometimes obnoxious, they do everything they can verbally, physically and any other way to let you know where they stand. The dictionary describes it as blatantly aggressive or provocative; impossible to ignore or avoid.

InYourFace

There are people in all walks of life like this. Political, christian, atheist, gay, straight, black, white, there are extremists in everyone group. They do whatever they can to let you know where they stand, to prove their point, and to let you know you had better accept them or you can go to you know where.

For me, I would rather have a calmer, even keel way of getting to know someone over time. That way we would each get to know one another and what we think about things without the in-your-face aggressiveness. No matter what each of us believe I feel we should accept, respect and treat everyone the same. We all deserve the same treatment and rights as anyone else.

Rather than try to force our views on others, I think it best to accept one another as is, even in our differences and various ways of living and be respectful and accepting of one another.

Coming from the christian world, I remember having the attitude that I was right in my belief and if you thought differently you just did not measure up. I still treated people right, but it was my attitude toward them that was wrong. It always seemed like it was me versus them in our views about life.

Jesus came into our world to show us that God is love. Jesus loved and accepted everyone. That does not mean he agreed with everything they did, but he loved them and showed that love. Now days we christians would rather point out the mistakes of others, choose what is and what is not sin, judge and condemn. Many christian people feel they should separate themselves from those who do not believe the same and use any ulterior motive to get them to “see the light”.

Jesus is our example and he loved people unconditionally. All of us have committed sin in one way or another, but Jesus set us free from our sin and condemnation. None of us are worthy because of the way we live, but we are all worthy because of the way Jesus lived.

Rather than be an in-your-face type person, let us allow the love of God that lives within us show others the unconditional love and acceptance of the Father and treat one another with kindness, acceptance and respect.

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by Jim Gordon

We often think about events in the old testament and wonder why God seems so mean and destructive. How can a God who created us be willing to destroy so many human beings?

Many times it is written that God told the Israelites to completely wipe out and destroy a certain group of people due to the way they acted or believed.

In our world today, we still see so much hatred and treating certain groups of people as unworthy. Many religious people think so highly of themselves and the way they live yet they want nothing to do with those they feel are unworthy, unlovable and unacceptable.

Groups of people are killed, tortured, treated with contempt and meanness, all in the name of various religions who are representing the God of the universe. Love and acceptance are only saved for those who are like-minded and with similar beliefs. If you see things differently you are not accepted into the group.

LoveGodLoveOthers

Yet we see Jesus come into the world for the purpose of showing us what God is really like. It seems like such a contradiction. Jesus showed us that God is love. Jesus loved and accepted people who many in the religious world condemned, would not associate with and found completely unworthy to be loved.

I personally think God is highly misrepresented in the bible, especially the old testament. I think many times when men wrote that God said this or that, it was more of what they thought was the thing to do rather than God actually telling them to do such horrible acts.

So often the religious world says to hate those who are different. Do not associate or accept those who they think do not measure up. Stay away from those they feel are unworthy. Yet God says to love your neighbor and to love your enemy.

In a world where hatred and unacceptance seems the norm, it is time we who are representatives of God start putting differences and personal prejudices aside and let his love flow to all we meet along the way.

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by Jim Gordon

Have you noticed how people like to look up toward the sky when they think of God? I recently watched several football players giving God praise by looking up and pointing toward the sky. Many of us who are Christians seem to think of God as being up in the sky somewhere looking down on us. We are taught in our churches that God is up there and someday we will go to meet him and be with him.

 

We tend to forget that the Kingdom of God is within us. We are told that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and God makes his home within us. The fact is that we really do not act like we believe this truth.

 

If we could only get it in our head and down in our spirit that God is not somewhere up there, far away in heaven. He lives within us by his Spirit. We have the Spirit within us to teach and guide us. The bible says we have the mind of Christ. That is because his Spirit lives within us.

TempleofGodfor WordPress

 

We are living in the Kingdom right now. Yes, we are constrained by our human body but our spirit is one with his Spirit and we are spiritually living with him in his Kingdom.

 

It would be nice to begin hearing more about the presence of God within us right now rather than a God who is far away and who may show up from time to time to bless us in some special way if we attend the right meeting at the right place.

 

God is here now, living within us. He goes with us each and every day through whatever we go through in our daily life. He loves us and is concerned about us and is there for our good. It can be a hard thing to get the old teachings of the church out of our heads and accept the fact that God lives within us now. It reminds me of the old saying ‘you can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy’. You can take the boy out of religion but you can’t take religion out of the boy, or it is really hard to do so.

 

Religion is man’s way of making his way to God. Yet we find out that man cannot come to God by his efforts and good works. Grace is the only way man comes to God, and it is all by the good works of the Father through Jesus.

 

Once Jesus left this earth he sent us a comforter, his Spirit who now dwells within his Church. His Church is not a religious organization and is not a building. It is his followers no matter what church they attend or if they do not attend a religious organization at all.

 

God lives within us. He makes his home within us and is with us spiritually just as much now as he will be when this earthly body passes away and we live in our glorified, spiritual bodies.

 

Start making the effort to see things as God says they are, not as we have been taught within religion. God is not up in the sky, he lives within us. We are his temple and each of us collectively form his kingdom body now.

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Growing up in church we were all told the story of Noah and the ark. A way that God saved the one family he found to be righteous in a world of sinners and terrible people. Supposedly things were so bad that God wondered why he created mankind and came up with a plan to destroy all his creation other than Noah and his family.

 

I accepted this story without question for many years. Yet when I actually sat and thought about the whole story I had questions and doubts, wondering if it was really a true and if so, why God would choose to do this terrible thing.

 

I have come to find that many stories in the bible are just that, stories. I relate many of the old testament stories to the parables of Jesus in the new testament. Nothing wrong with stories, and just because they are stories in no way negates the truth and importance of the meaning behind the story. Stories and parables are used to make real life truths easier to understand.

 

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I have come to see the story of Noah and the ark as a shadow of things to come. It was a parable about Jesus coming to save the world and restore fellowship with the Creator.

 

When we read in the bible that God is love, it is hard to make sense out of a story that the God of love would destroy people that he loves. We also know that our works are not what brings us into fellowship with the Father and whether we produce good works or bad works, our Father still loves us. So, to say God destroyed the earth because of evil works goes against the whole principle of salvation through grace.

 

Many people will point to the story of the flood and use it to discredit God or to say there is no God at all. Others will say the story is in the bible and the bible is inerrant, so it happened just the way it is written. For me, I have come to terms that the written word is not inerrant. It is a collection of writings by human beings over many years, telling how they view God, how they try to live for God and how God deals with his creation.

 

I have come to believe that the only inerrant Word of God is not a book but a person. Jesus is the Word of God and his Spirit lives within us. Rather than have a completely closed mind as to any other interpretation other than what we have been taught by religious institutions, we can let the Spirit of God within us teach us and we can learn to be open to new things under his guidance.

 

Did the flood really happen? Was the earth completely covered with water and all life destroyed? I personally do not think so. God loves us and created us for fellowship with Him. Our works do not earn us anything with God because he loves us and accepts us unconditionally.

 

Yet the flood did have real meaning. The sinful nature we had was washed away with the flood waters of his grace. Our unrighteous deeds were destroyed by the flood of his love. Jesus our ark made a way of escape so that we might live in his Kingdom for the rest of our existence, enjoying his presence and his love within us.

 

This post was part of the September 2018 Synchroblog on the topic of the flood. Here are the other contributors to this month’s topic. Go and read them all!

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By Jim Gordon

Those of us who are outside the walls of religion and institutional church have found a freedom we sometimes cannot explain. At least we cannot explain it in a way that people who still attend a church building will understand.

The problem is those who still attend the traditional church do not accept the fact that everyone is different and sees things in various ways. They usually want to stay away from us or talk about how we have backslidden and fallen away from God because we do not do what we have traditionally been taught was godly.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are worshipping and loving God just as much as before only in a different way. We have not left the Church (ekklesia) but we have left the building (church). Jesus is building His Church out of ‘living stones’ not brick and mortar.

My wife and I left the church because we felt the system was not the way God intended, yet we never left the true Church which is made up of all of those who are believers.

Each of us has an equally important part to play in the body yet no one is the head or over anyone else. Each of us are kings, priests and functioning parts of the body and we are all needed and important. Of course, only Jesus is the head of his Church not a pastor.

Those of us who have left the traditional church service are often told we need to attend because we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Yet this verse does not mean we have to be in an organized, pre-planned service led by a pastor and a worship leader. It is saying we need our brothers and sisters in Christ. Whether we meet on a Monday at a café, Tuesday in a home, Thursday at a bar or Friday in a park makes no difference. Jesus said for where two or three gather together in my name there I am in their midst.

For us true and meaningful fellowship happens each and every day when God brings us together with a brother or sister, or when we meet up with another couple for dinner. It also may be a time of one-on-one fellowship online with a brother hundreds of miles away yet bonded closely through the Spirit.

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We are so conditioned to think of the church building and its events and happenings as the main way of fellowship and learning. Although we are told in the bible that when we come together each of us should have a word, or a song, or a praise. How often does that happen within the institutional church? Yet being outside the walls my wife and I have found this to be the norm. We all talk, we encourage one another, learn about each other, pray for one another and we support and care for each other. Fellowship is everyone having a part to play and everyone being open and talking about what God is to them. Sitting quietly in a church service does not fulfill what God intended fellowship to be among his children.

We should remember that rather than having a feeling of ‘us vs them’ mentality those of us who used to be part of the institutional church should also keep in mind that those who attend church are doing so because they love God and think they are doing the right thing. We are all children of God, whether we are in the institutional church or out of it. We are all parts of the Church that Jesus is building.

For those still attending, most do not think about how the system is wrong and is not what God intended for His people. After all, this is all we have known all our lives. We have been taught all along that this is God’s plan for us, to assemble together in a building, pay our tithes and look to the pastor as God’s spokesperson. I know I believed this for many years while within the system.

As people of God we are to love God and love others. We cannot do that in our own strength it is by the power of the Spirit within us. The sad thing is we should not have a problem loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet sometimes it seems we have more trouble loving those who are part of a tradition that we no longer feel is right, but are still followers of the same God we love.

I pray that all of us can keep in mind that we are children of God, saved by grace and living in His kingdom now. Whether we are ‘in church’ or outside the walls, let us focus on our love of the Father and for one another. The world needs to see the love of God in action among His children. They do not need to see arguing, fighting and disrespect that is so familiar among Christians today.

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Stephen Bradford Long

Religion, Esotericism, Skepticism

A Wilderness Voice

"The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, says the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, says the LORD of hosts." (Hag 2:9)

Entering the Promised Land

by walking in the Spirit

TruthForFree.com

What You Won't Find In A Christian Bookstore

Beyond Church Walls

Done with Religion ... Not Done with God

Escape to Reality

Exploring the wide open spaces of God's amazing grace

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