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by Jim Gordon

I am not much into politics and I certainly do not put much hope or trust in politicians. I very seldom make political statements since I feel politics is a personal thing. Who you vote for or if you vote at all is up to each individual, so this will be one of very few statements I will make on politics and it will not be an endorsement for any candidate.

First off, whether you vote party lines, independent or third-party is entirely a personal choice. Whether you vote at all is a personal choice. I understand the concept that as christians we live in the Kingdom of God and we trust God as our head and pledge no allegiance to man. Yet living in this world many believe in the political process and they vote for those they feel is best to lead the country. I believe in praying for our leaders and trying to get the best people into office for the good of the country no matter which party they belong too.

Either way we look at this, the one thing that really bothers me is seeing christian people, especially those in leadership positions such as pastors, evangelists, elders and such making comments such as “if you are a christian you cannot support this person or party”, or, “if you were a real christian you would not be voting for that candidate or that party”.

I understand pastors and leaders giving their personal opinions about who they like as a candidate, we all do that, but that should be done on a more personal and private basis. I think to tell people who to vote for, and to say you are or are not a christian based on who you vote for is crossing the line and is just plain wrong.

I think most people are smart enough to listen, read and decide for themselves who they want to support. Most people want the best for our country and they really believe they are voting for the person who will do the best job.

I personally think that christians, especially those such as pastors and leaders who make these type statements should keep their views to themselves. We all should have the right to vote for the person we feel is best, and to do so without someone trying to put a guilt trip on us for having a different view, and especially when it comes to our christianity.

by Mike Edwards

Keith Giles suggest another interpretation of Jesus’ teaching on divorce in Matthew’s Gospel that perhaps you haven’t considered. See here. It is a very realistic interpretation. Keep in mind no one can claim their interpretation is the correct one. The author isn’t available to ask what they meant nor is God writing in the sky lately. We would just twist the words in the sky to mean what we wanted them to mean than using loving sense.

Which interpretation on an issue may be best? See here.

“Anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” [Matt. 19:9]

Jesus was speaking to men who had all the power. They could divorce women for whatever reason whenever they wanted. Women basically had no rights. Women were even more powerless when it came to opportunities to support themselves.

Jesus said what he did to protect women! Jesus was saying: Men, you can’t just do whatever the hell you want when getting married. This is why the disciple responded to Jesus’ statement – then it might be better to not marry (v. 10). Men, start acting like true lovers and not looking for ways out of your commitment if not for the right reasons!

My point is not to suggest the Bible should be read as a rules book or condemn those who have regrets in their past. Just don’t use the Bible to lead to further abuse of women at the hands of men. Don’t advise as if all relational circumstances are the same. Use loving sense! God may be speaking to you. Women, if in danger by all means run! Take care of yourself.

Nine Church traditions that need to die
by Dan Foster , Guest Blogger
https://medium.com/backyard-theology/killing-the-sacred-cows-of-church-1f975ecf43f4

Growing up as Pastor’s kid in the eighties gave me a front row pew to the kind of vitriol and anger that can emerge from an otherwise lovely and mild-mannered Christian when you say or do something to offend them.

I remember the first time my Father preached a sermon on the topic of sex — something quite ground-breaking at the time. After the service, he stood at the door and greeted everyone as he always did. I remember one little old lady getting right up in my Dad’s face and, waving one pointed finger perilously close to his nose, screeching at him, “If you ever mention ‘that word’ in church again, I’m never coming back.” She couldn’t even bring herself to say the word “sex,” because I suppose she was far too upright and pious for the likes of anything slightly pleasurable or necessary for the survival of the human race.

My father was a great pastor, but he was ahead of his time. He like to challenge the status quo, make people shift uncomfortably in their pews and, occasionally, he like to slaughter a sacred cow.

The term, “sacred cow,” has its origins in Hinduism, but it is commonly used in Christian circles to describe those elements of church life that have been elevated to such a high level of importance that they cannot be touched, criticized, changed or removed. Above all, sacred cows are not essential to the fundamentals of Christianity, but people treat them as if they are. In fact — truth be told — if you got rid of them, the church would function just as effectively — probably even more so.

Over three decades in the Evangelical church I have done a fair bit of cow spotting. Here are a few common sacred cows that need to be put out to pasture — maybe even slaughtered completely:

The Offering

One of the most awkward parts of many a church service is the moment that an open offering plate is thrust under your nose by an eager and expectant church usher (usually an older man), with the expectation that you will put a wad of hundred dollar bills in it. Okay… so maybe not that much, but the pressure to give is real.

This uncomfortable tradition of ‘sending around the plate’ is usually prefaced by an ‘offering talk’ (that is sometimes almost as long as the sermon itself), where parishioners are exhorted to let the moths out of their purses and fill the coffers of the church for the good of the Kingdom. In the worst of cases, some churches insinuate or even promise that your financial gifts will somehow unlock the blessing of God over your life — as if God could somehow be bought off in such a way. This amounts to nothing more than manipulation.

Should we give? Yes! Christ calls us to be generous and to give to those in need. However, we are also told to give discreetly and without fanfare. In fact, the Bible says, “Each one of us should give what we have decided in our heart to give. We should not give if it makes you unhappy or if we feel forced to give. God loves those who are happy to give.”

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Photo by By Suzanne Tucker on Shutterstock — purchased with license

The Communion Table

I know of a worship leader who made the mistake of resting his guitar up against the communion table at the end of his worship set. The backlash was swift and brutal. The pastor’s inbox was full of complaints about the irreverence of the worship leader. How dare he use the table of the Lord to rest a common musical instrument up against!

True to its form, the church publicly humiliated the worship leader by making him get up on stage an apologize to everyone for his gross sacrilege. He left the church soon after. Good for him!

I heard of another pastor who moved the communion table from the center of the stage to a position off to one side, simply to create a little more space. The pastor was accused of attacking the centrality of the Lord’s supper, leading people astray and presenting a ‘watered-down’ version of Christianity. The following week, the communion table was back in the middle of the stage. From then on, the pastor would move the table just a few inches each week and, over a period of several months, successfully moved it back to one side without anyone noticing.

In some churches, the communion table is a scared cow. In reality it’s just a piece of ordinary furniture. Covering it in a nice white table cloth doesn’t make it sacred. Even the fact that the elements of the Lord’s supper sit on top of it doesn’t make it sacred. In fact, to place such high importance on an inanimate object would be akin to making an idol out of it, wouldn’t it?

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Photo by Joshua Eckstein on Unsplash

Church Music

One of the sacred cows that my father was unable to kill, when he was a pastor, was the pipe organ. The church had an ancient pipe organ that was so seldom used that it was almost purely ornamental. I’m pretty sure that the last human being who actually knew how to play it had passed away a few centuries earlier. Even so, when the church outgrew its ancient building and attempted to shift the congregation into a bigger and more modern facility, they were unable to part ways with the pipe organ. Consequently, at great expense, the entire organ was painstakingly removed from the old sanctuary and transplanted into the new. There it sits as an ancient monument to a bygone era, gathering dust. It sticks out like a sore thumb.

This highlighted to me how we can get attached to certain instruments, styles of worship — even certain songs — to the point of elevating them to god-like status. Music is one of the most-complained-about aspects of church. Every week someone would say the music was too loud, too soft, too fast or too slow. They would complain that the number of old hymns was disproportionate to the amount of modern worship songs. They would say that certain songs lacked lyrical content, theological accuracy or a catchy riff. When it comes to the sacred cow of music, Christians can fire up very quickly.

However, we weren’t even commanded to gather around an organ and sing, were we? Singing is really just one way to worship. It’s not the be-all-and-end-all. These days, my favorite way to worship is actually to sit in silent contemplation. Try that sometime!

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Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Male-dominated church leadership

Once upon a time, the idea that power and leadership was ascribed to men by virtue of their gender alone was widely accepted. In some cultures it still is. However, as the modern, Western world continues its relentless and necessary march towards equality, patriarchal structures and systems are quite rightly viewed as unacceptable and outdated. Still, those who stand to lose the most by the deconstruction of patriarchal systems — namely conservative men — won’t go down without a fight. Nowhere is this more evident than in the church, when some men will fight tooth and nail to protect their turf.

A woman can be the leader of my country, but she can’t be a leader in many local churches. That’s because many Christian churches ascribe to a form of “benevolent patriarchy” commonly known as Complementarianism. This belief gives men the role of authority over the wife and children, and only allows men to be church leaders. Women are expected to submit unilaterally to men, fathers, husbands, pastors.

I remember the very last time I attended a board meeting at my conservative, evangelical church. The group — all men of course — had gathered, and a decision needed to be made that required some legal advice.

“What a pity we don’t have any lawyers who come to our church that we can refer to for this matter,” Said one of the board members.

“My wife is a lawyer,” I spoke up.

“True,” replied the board member, “What a shame she is the wrong gender.”

And the rest of the men chuckled knowingly.

We ought to be disturbed when it is suggested that those absent of male genitals must unilaterally submit and defer to those with.

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Photo by Lisa F. Young on Shutterstock — purchased with license

Church and politics

Many Christians are uncomfortable with the marriage that seems to exist between the church and the conservative side of politics. It is a well established fact that white, evangelical protestant Christians overwhelmingly support Donald Trump and his presidency to the point where “Evangelical Christian” has become a kind of synonym for “Trump Supporter.”

The idea that Jesus is somehow on the side of the Republican Party is laughable. If Jesus is on anyone’s side, it’s the side of the orphan, the widow, the refugee, the poor, the lost, the hurting and the weak.

In my home country, Australia, I believe that the more progressive political parties often have ideas more aligned with the compassion and grace that Christianity is supposed to espouse, particularly in matters pertaining to welfare, foreign aid, equality, asylum seekers and the environment. Yet, it is kind of an unwritten rule that Christians should vote for the conservatives.

Yes, I have had friends walk away from the church because they can’t reconcile why the church supports political parties that turn away the refugee and oppress the minority.

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Photo by ehrlif on iStockphoto — purchased with license

The Building

Let’s be clear. The Bible never mentions a building called ‘Church.’ Never. In fact, the Bible never speaks of church in those terms. The buildings came later when the state got a hold of the church, under Roman Emperor Constantine in 312 AD.

On the other hand, Jesus said where two or three are gathered He is present. Two or three — not 40 or 150 or 6,000. Not in an auditorium with a speaker, a band and dozens of rows of chairs. When Jesus spoke about the church, he was talking about people. People are the building blocks of church, not bricks and mortar. That is why church began in the humble homes of believers and that is why church can still continue in the humble homes of believers even as we are forced apart on occasions such as global pandemics.

Jesus never instructed believers to buy land, build buildings, establish a weekly worship service, create a liturgy or institute a sacrament. He simply commanded believers not to forget Him; to live together, and to eat, and to remember. A building is not needed. It might be helpful, sure. But real Christianity is a fully portable experience.

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Photo by Skull Kat on Unsplash

Children’s Sunday School

At various times in the Gospels, Jesus’s disciples are seen to try to keep children away from Jesus, because Jesus was — in their opinion — far too busy and important for kids. Yet, in Matthew 18:10, Jesus commands us not to look down on children, but to welcome them.

Therefore, it strikes me as odd that many churches segregate children to some far-removed corner of the church property so that the adults can worship God in peace and quiet. Here, during an hour of glorified babysitting, we teach children to be good little boys and girls. We teach them to be nice, obedient and compliant.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for children’s Sunday School lessons, but I think the whole system needs an overhaul. Better yet, here’s an idea. How about we design worship services that are inter-generationally friendly so that we can all participate together? We ought to stop patronizing children, and start to treat them as people who have a things that they can teach us, and meaningful contributions they can make.

No wonder my kids found church so boring, because — let’s be honest — young people are drawn to risk, challenge and adventure, but these things are often discouraged in the local church. Instead, many congregations offer a safe, nurturing community — an oasis of stability and predictability. Studies show that women and seniors gravitate toward these things. So not surprisingly such congregations are over-represented with women and seniors.

Richard Rohr, in his book, “From Wild Man to Wise Man,” says it like this:

“Real spirituality should emphasize movement over stillness, action over theory, service to the world over religious discussions, speaking the truth over social niceties, and doing justice instead of self-serving. Without this, spirituality becomes characterized by too much inwardness, a morass of unclarified feelings, and religion itself as a security blanket. This prevents a journey to anyplace new, and fosters a constant protecting of the old. It is a no-risk religion, just the opposite of Abraham, Moses, Paul and Jesus…”

As long as we present the Christian faith, inaccurately, as something less than the great, challenging, risky, dangerous, treacherous adventure that it was meant to be, we sell out. And children will find their adventure elsewhere.

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Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

Pews

In the small village of Okeford Ftizpaine in South West England, locals are up in arms after their parish church made the decision to sell off their 150-year-old, antique Victorian-era wooden pews.

As comfortable as old wooden pews are, I would not personally object being able to sit on something more modern and easy-on-the-backside, especially during the weekly sermon by the local vicar.

Not the people of Okeford Fitzpaine, though. They would rather keep their old pews. However, it turns out the removal of these ancient bench seats is rather a matter of necessity as the sanctuary requires more flexible furnishings to allow space for people who are… how do you say it nicely? More rotund than the average human.

A recent report by the church committee concluded: “We have had occasions at weddings where the couple have been too large to be able to walk side by side down the aisle. With different chairs we would be able to widen the aisle.” They also added that the the pews were not suited to the “human form of today” — presumably that means the larger human form.

Even so, it beats me how a church community could somehow think that uncomfortable, 150-year-old wooden pews were so essential to church life that they are worth fighting for — as if single chairs might somehow the instruments of Satan.

Burn the pews, I say!

And while we are at it, let’s get rid of rows all together. I say that because rows divide and differentiate. Rows promote the consumerist mindset. Rows promote the brainless acceptance of information without critique. Rows perpetuate the hierarchical model that places an expert up the front to mediate between us and God. How about we meet in circles instead — around tables even? Tables invite connection. Tables invite conversation. Tables invite friendship.

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Photo by Kyler Nixon on Unsplash

Marriage

In 2017, the satirical Christian website Babylon Bee published an article entitled, “Woman In Singles’ Ministry Gets Married, Promoted To Real Christian.” The article gently pokes fun at the idea that getting married is basically a ‘level up’ in Christian circles.

The reality is that the popular view of our day is that singleness is a bad position and marriage will cure it — that being single is not sufficient, not adequate. It’s something you need to change because it’s wrong. And, if this is the popular view in our society, you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s the popular view in the church. At first, we make fun of single people (mainly while they are young), but only for a while. As they get older, we begin to wonder what’s wrong with them. Are their standards too high? Eventually, we end up pitying them, as if they were destined for a miserable life.

Somehow, we arrived at the idea — the myth — that singleness is bad. It’s the reason my Mum started suggesting suitable partners for me as soon as I turned 18. It’s the reason why I signed up to a dating website when I was in my early 20s. It’s the reason why people in the church ask, “So, when are you gonna find yourself a nice girl?” It’s the reason why half of you are trying to match-make for your single friends. Christian are often guilty of treating singleness like it’s a problem that needs to be solved — despite the fact that Jesus and the Apostle Paul were single men.

In fact, the Apostle Paul comes along in 1 Corinthians 7 and lifts up singleness as a legitimate way to live, in a way that would have shocked the world in which they lived at the time. Suddenly Paul is calling singleness a gift. A gift! Imagine that! In so doing, Christianity was the first religion that held up singleness as good. So, the church ought to quit making it out like married Christians are on a higher level, somehow.

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Photo by Richard Jaimes on Unsplash

It’s time to kill the sacred cows

Call me a heretic if you like, but I don’t think that Jesus is impressed by our attempts to clutch at power, to elevate some and to put others ‘in their place,’ to resist change, preserve the status quo and uphold ancient practices and models that are superfluous to the fundamentals of Christianity.

And I really don’t think that Jesus cares too much about the form of our worship — our buildings, our furniture, our music, and our religious traditions.

So, why do we elevate these things to such a high position that we would be willing to fight over it? I’ve seen churches split, people hurt and relationships destroyed over these trivial matters.

They are sacred cows! Now let’s slaughter them!

by Jim Gordon

Many of us go through life with a very low opinion of ourselves. Often it is due to what we hear others say about us. What actually is our identity in this world? Many of us as christians are told that we are just poor sinners saved by grace and that we are no more than a worm deserving of hell.

Yet Jesus has something very different to say. It is time to ignore what people tell us we are based on beliefs, or a label we wear or for whatever reason people come up with and listen to what is written in the bible. Stop listening to others and focus on what Jesus tells us we are. Following are some verses that tell us what we are in Christ:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12)

Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. (John 15:15)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! (Romans 5:17)

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin (Romans 6:6)

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11)

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  (1 Corinthians 6:19)

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27)

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us [a]diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20)

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20)

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (Galatians 3:13)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28)

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir (Galatians 4:7)

Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.  (Ephesians 1:4)

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

And to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son (Colossians 1:13)

He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him (Colossians 1:22)

And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:10)

We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do by sacrificing his body once and for all (Hebrews 10:10)

You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9)

by Jim Gordon

If you have grown up in the organized church system and later change your views, what do you do with all your all friends who are still in the system?

Sometimes the first thought is to separate from them. They no longer understand you so why be a part of them?

To this I say that the bible says to forsake not the assembling of yourselves together. I do not believe that means we need to stay a part of an organized church and attend their meetings. I feel it means we still need our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not done through a Christian organization on a certain day of the week. How much fellowship can we really have sitting in an organized service listening to one person do all the talking?

We need a daily interaction with believers for encouragement, strength, prayer support, helping others and sharing the love of God to lift one another up. We need communion with other believers, and not necessarily always about spiritual things. Just good old fellowship and communication on a number of topics: spiritual, our various concerns and needs, funny things and basic conversation.

I honestly feel we should not separate ourselves from those who think differently from us, but sometimes it cannot be helped because they will cut us off. They tend to think we have lost our faith or have fallen under the lies of the devil.

When my wife and I left the organized church, we did not leave God. We still believe in Jesus, in loving God and loving others. We love our brothers and sisters who are still in the organization and believe we still need each other.

We do need to get past the us versus them mentality and accept one another whether we attend a religious organization or not.

If they feel we have lost our faith or walked away from God, it does not mean they are our enemy. We are still to love them and do our best to get along and support them. If they choose to stay away from us, there is nothing we can do about that, but we cannot write them off and forget them. We still love them, pray for them, and go on with our lives sharing the love of God with them any everyone we meet.

by Jim Gordon

Just a few verses from the bible that put emphasis on what we are called to do, and that is love one another. Does not mean we always agree, does not mean we do not have different views and opinions. Yet we can accept one another, grant the same equal rights, respect and human dignity to everyone through love.

Notice these verses do not say this pertains only to those who think the same, look the same, believe the same or worship the same. It applies to all human beings no matter what label they wear, such as man/woman, black/white, gay/straight, no matter what nationality, no matter what religion, gender or race. We are only called to love one another.

Matthew 5:44

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

Matthew 22:37-40

And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

Mark 12:30,31

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

John 13:34-35

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

John 15:12

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

John 15:17

These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Romans 13:8-10

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

1 Corinthians 10:24

Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

1 Corinthians 13:13

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 16:14

Let all that you do be done in love.

Galatians 5:13

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Ephesians 4:2

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love

2 Thessalonians 1:3

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.

Hebrews 10:24

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works

1 Peter 1:22

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart

1 John 3:11

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

1 John 3:14

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

1 John 3:23

And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us

1 John 4:7, 8

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:11

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:12

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

1 John 4:16

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 4:19,20,21

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

2 John 1:5

And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.

by Jim Gordon

Many people wonder if Christianity and politics can actually exist together. It seems that Jesus really had no real interest in the political system of his day, yet he also did not condemn it. He said to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.

In our day and age politics can be a powerful thing and many people find it extremely important. No matter what country you live in it is controlled by a political party in one way or another. Many countries, like the United States participate in free elections and others are under more of a dictatorship. Either way, we humans are all under some type of political influence and control.

I find that coming from a Christian viewpoint it seems many Christian people in the United States feel that if you are a Christian you have to be a republican. Personally, the way I feel about politics I really do not care which political party a person belongs too. Unfortunately, I really do not see much of the ways of Jesus in either of our main political parties. It seems politicians are more concerned on political power and financial gain rather than on serving the people and making things better for all.

When I vote, I try to vote for the person I feel will do that best job for the most people and I do not worry which political party they belong too. I know there are many politicians who are of the Christian faith, yet there are also many who only use Christianity to get more votes.

Truthfully, being a Christian has nothing to do with a political party. Those of us who are followers of Christ live every day by our faith which involves every aspect of living. Our faith in God is not a Sunday only thing or a political thing. Many people seem to think they have a spiritual life on Sunday and a secular and political life the rest of the week. Yet the truth is we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we walk with the Spirit of God each and every day. Everything we do can be considered spiritual because God is within us all the time.

Many people seem to think we can use political power to force our Christian values on everyone. I for one do not believe we should or can legislate Christian values and morality on anyone. God does not force his love and ways on us, so why should we try to force our values and beliefs on others. Only by the power of the Spirit living within us can righteous living and loving others be accomplished.

Jesus was obviously more interested in speaking of and teaching about the kingdom he was a part of, the Kingdom of Heaven. He was not nearly as worried or concerned about worldly kingdoms or political powers.

I would love to see people stop bringing Christianity down to a political purpose. Focus on Christ and loving others no matter which political party they endorse, if any. Politics is not the answer and is not worth all the fighting and arguing over. Loving God and loving one another is a much more important and meaningful way of life.

By Mike Edwards

When my parents, partner, or friends believe in me, respect me, hope or trust in me – I am more inspired. Does God love us in the same way? We all struggle to be the person we desire to be deep down. Many struggle with habits that they regret each time they break a promise. God surely knows such regrets. Loving parents never give up on their child becoming what they know them to be like. Is God any less loving?

Why would an all-powerful God give us freedom?   

Freedom in relationships is necessary for true love. God obviously created us with freedom because of all the evil in the world contrary to God’s desires. Controlling behaviors never lead to true intimacy desired in relationships. The truth is parents or God are dependent on others to have genuine relationships. God puts their hopes and trust in us as do loving uncontrolling parents.

God can’t know or control the future and truly love!                                      

If the future is knowable and not open, I can’t act otherwise. God controlling the future is no different than parents dictating to their older children what career or partner they must pursue. God must be uncontrolling or God is uncaring. God must have faith and be vulnerable just as our parents when having us. The Bible agrees God doesn’t know the future. God regrets (I Sam. 15:10-11); God relents (Jonah 3:10); God is surprised (Is. 5); God changes their mind (Jer. 18:8-10).

How dare you compare God’s love to human love!

We may not always know what perfect love entails but intuitively we know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly or am I loving others like our Creator loves. A Creator surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others Even the Bible suggests God’s love is the same as perfect human love: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48); be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1); be merciful like God (Lk. 6:36). God is often claimed a mystery because one’s interpretation of Scriptures makes God seem evil. Such interpreters sense intuitively God and perfect human love are the same.

God is love but what does that mean? 

An unloving God isn’t worth believing in. God’s love surely is the same as supreme parents – other-directed not self-consumed. Love gets excited when we do well and make a difference in the lives of others. Love anticipates, hopes for our success, believes in us. God is pulling for me, even when failing, because I do the same for my children. We doubt God but God still loves. God may worry but still hopes. God either believes in, hopes for us, builds us up, or doesn’t love us at all.

We matter to God!

We commit to relationships not knowing how they will turn out. God too! If you claim to love someone, you suffer when things don’t turn out as you hoped. God too! Even if you don’t believe Jesus was really divine and human, many believe Jesus may have been the most perfect person in the world like God. Jesus trusted, hoped, and had faith in others. We may feel hopeless at times but not God. God believes in and loves you the same way you want to be loved by your parents!

Resource and must read: Wm. Curtis Holtzen, The God Who Trust: A Relational Theology Of Divine Faith, Hope, and Love

by Jim Gordon

In the Christian world today there are many, many people who are well known and educated in the Bible and religion. Pastors, evangelists and big-named TV evangelists are so numerous we cannot remember them all. People have their favorites and sometimes even argue about which one is the best and should be listened to the most.

For me personally, I am getting tired of all the big-named, well known pastors and evangelists giving me their views and opinions and telling me what God is saying. I have pretty well stopped listening to people and try to focus on hearing the voice of the Spirit of God who lives within me.

Obviously, we all have an opinion and a view and there is nothing wrong with listening to others to get their viewpoints. The problem is that most of the time we put our full faith in what other people say. There is no need to put such faith in another person. Jesus said when he left earth that he was sending us a comforter, one who would guide is into all truth and we would need no man (or woman) to teach us.

Listen to those to whom you value their knowledge and understanding, yet do not put complete and total faith into anyone. Seek the still, quiet voice of the Spirit of God from within and rely on the Spirit to teach and guide you in your daily walk with God.

by Jim Gordon

This article is written to those of us who live in the USA. Here in the United States it is a time in history when things seem to get pretty weird. Currently we are in a presidential election year and that can cause a lot of chaos in itself. Then we have a lot of other important issues going on that just makes things a little crazy.

Things can certainly get strange. It seems politics (and money) can make people do things and say things they normally would not do and say.

For me, politics is not an interest. I feel it is a divider and causes disagreements and many times can cause the loss of friendships. It usually does not bring people together other than those who are in favor of the same politician or party.

One important thing we need to remember is that no one person and no one political party will be the answer to all our problems. We all have our opinions and views and we are all entitled to have them and express them. The problem is when we cannot accept opinions and views that are different from ours.

Thinking back to the tragedy of 9/11, and I would never want something like that to happen again but right after that happened, I can remember the unity that was felt here in the USA. People seemed to forget their differences and they united under a common cause. If we could only unite together as fellow human beings and not put so much importance on our different political views, what a difference there would be in our country.

There are certainly many issues going on and many issues that need to be dealt with and changed. I believe that not much will happen until we can unite in the fact that we are all human beings who want the best for our country, our families and ourselves. Though we will never all agree, we need to strive to work together in a way that will cause change where needed and bring people together to work for the good of all.

Fighting over which politician or which political party is best and will do the best job is not going to bring the unity we need to make the necessary changes. No politician is going to fight for the people without us, the people holding them accountable. They will fight for what is best for them and what is best for their party, but we need to work together to force them to do what is best for us, the people of the United States of America.

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