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Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

by Jordan Hathcock, Guest Blogger

Jesus’ focus was on “hypocrisy” more than “heresy,” and it might just be an indication of how far we’ve strayed for us to give so much attention to “heresy” and not enough to “hypocrisy.”

It seems from both sides of the Christian partisan isle, the heretic agenda is still prevalent within Christendom. When we proclaim the charge of heresy-which in the context of the Greek in the Christian scriptures, literally means division-it’s hard to really find a unified common ground with each opposing group. The point of all religion, especially the Christian traditions in my opinion, is to be unified in love (Col. 3:14). Yes, we are all seeking to do what we all think is right when it comes to the Christian faith. Both sides of the left/right Christian divide are pushing the “we’re right you’re wrong” cause, which ends up creating the heretic agenda. Is this the only route we can take when “others” come up with ideas/practices that do not align with ours?

As history shows, the heretic agenda has only brought division, death and destruction. Is this part of being a participant with Jesus? I mean honestly, how the fuck did we ever think burning someone at the stake was Christ-like?! You can click here to view the list of individuals who were executed/tortured due to the heresy charge of the “Christian” church. With regards to today’s cultural context, we have taken the execution/torture part out of the equation (yay) but the destructiveness of the heresy agenda is still at play.

I would like to take a couple examples from both sides of the Christian faith that are throwing out the heresy card and see how much it differs from what Jesus did 2,000 plus years ago. I believe there is a difference, and we are definitely not practicing the path that produces unified love through these heresy accusations. These examples of heresy accusations from individuals are in no way trying to bring about judgement on them. It is merely a way of showing the hypocrisy of it all. We are all guilty of hypocrisy throughout are way of functioning in life. We all need some unveiling at times to expose our false assumptions of moral superiority (take the log out of our own eye, ring a bell?).

Let’s go ahead and take the first example from the progressive side.  John Pavlovitz is an author/pastor/blogger who really goes after the current political climate of conservative Christians with their support of Trump and his administration.  Look, he has a lot of really good and important things to say in regard to this subject. I agree with a lot of it! The thing that I have issue with and what I believe to be hindering the repentance (change of mind in order to change your path) of these groups is his charge of heresy.  Take this for example:

God doesn’t bless America.

That’s not how this works.

I’m sorry to break it to you, Bible Belt Christians—but that’s just how it is.

I know this kinda wrecks the convenient narrative you’ve been working for the past 60 or so years (and hitting especially hard the past eighteen months), but honestly that nasty bit of heresy has done enough damage already and it needs to go. It’s straight-up of the devil.

So, apparently the issue of nationalism is “against the orthodox belief of Christendom and/or an opinion that is contrary to what is accepted”? In essence, what Mr. Pavlovitz is proposing is that he abides in the pure orthodoxy of the Christian faith and these Bible Belt Christians do not. According to his blog, these Christians are practicing “nasty heresy that is straight-up of the devil”! Man, that’s a hefty accusation. Is it true?

Now, let’s peep out the conservative side of the isle. Currently, the Catholic Church is dealing with a heresy charge on Pope Francis himself (how ironic, don’t you think?):

Prominent clergymen and scholars including Fr. Aidan Nichols, one of the best-known theologians in the English-speaking world, have issued an open letter accusing Pope Francis of committing heresy. They ask the bishops of the Catholic Church, to whom the open letter is addressed, to “take the steps necessary to deal with the grave situation” of a pope committing this crime.

What did the Pope do to deserve this “infamous” title? Well, according to his accusers: “Pope Francis’ embrace of positions contrary to the faith and his dubious support of prelates who in their lives have shown themselves to have a clear disrespect for the Church’s faith and morals.” How broad and narrow minded can you get here? Why are we so terrified of people with differing views? Yes, there are more details to this claim, but it just boils down to different practices and associations. Again, do we divide, or do we look to embody our differences in unity?

Look, I get the horrible effects of nationalism within the culture of Christianity. I also get the importance to care for our community and to protect them from the harmful effects of bringing about unhealthy practices. Any type of fundamentalism that pops up from either side is only a stumbling block to the unity of the faith. But, in the end, the heresy agenda does not produce the fruit of love (Gal 5:22-23). Let us say goodbye to this unhealthy agenda and embrace the unity of Christ: I in them and you in me…

“Ye shalt locate false teachers from online evidence or in person whilst they preacheth and drive public campaigns against them. Making sure everyone knows just how shocking they are, thou shalt pick at the teaching of others and bring to light their heretic ways. Attack their theology in any way it does not align with thine own personal theology. Ye are free to call them names, label them and destroy their ministries. This is pleasing to me.” Said God, never.

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by Jim Gordon

When thinking about all that is going on today about gay rights and transgender rights, I have found that most of the time both groups are majorly discriminated against. Often it is christian people who do a lot of the discriminating.

Many christians seem to think it is best to come against these two groups as a way of showing that we are in favor of christian values and we take a stand for God. Personally, as a christian I think this is completely wrong and so against what Jesus taught and showed us in regard to how to treat people. He accepted and spent time with all kinds of people, mostly people who the religious crowd would not even talk to let alone spend time.

Why is it we think taking a stand against someone or something is the way to show true christian love and acceptance? Why is it in a world with so many diverse people and beliefs we feel the need to openly defend our way as if it is the only way?

As a christian I do believe in living for God and showing His love to everyone. That does not mean everything I do and believe is right. That does not mean other people and beliefs are wrong. No matter what we choose to believe or how we choose to live, everyone deserves to be treated with respect and accepted as is.

A good friend of mine is a firefighter and he shared a paragraph from an ethics class he recently attended. It reads: ‘Equal Services for All. Always ensure that the services you and your crew are providing are equal for everyone on the scene. Never discriminate because of race, color, religion, age, sex, or disability. If you become aware of another firefighter discriminating against someone, rectify the situation immediately and report it to your chief. Discrimination should never be tolerated’. To me this sounds more like it came from Jesus telling his followers how to treat others.

I believe that taking a stand for christian values should be positive not negative. It is not showing what we are against, being mean, condemning, unaccepting and discriminating. It is showing what we are for in Christ, being caring, kind, showing love and acceptance to everyone.

We certainly are not all going to agree on everything. We are all going to make our choices on what to believe and how to live based on what we feel is right or best for us. Yet in those differences there is no reason we cannot respect, accept and love each other knowing that God loves each and every one of us.

It is time to set aside our differences, set aside discrimination, set aside prejudices and doctrinal beliefs and show the love of God to everyone we meet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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by Jim Gordon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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by Jim Gordon

Does done with religion suggest that we are done with God? For those of you who have followed our postings for some time, you know better. Yet when people hear done with religion they often times think that means done with God.

So many people associate religion, Christianity, church and God all as the same thing. Christianity is a religion and going to church and participating in the religious activities are part of people trying to follow rules and commands to be a better person.

For us here at Done with Religion we see things differently. Religion and the things people normally think of when they hear the word is a man-made way of trying to know God and earn his love. They are still trying to obey rules and follow the old covenant commands that were part of the covenant that Jesus fulfilled.

We are done with religion. We are done mixing old and new covenant teachings. We are done trying to do things to be good enough to earn God’s love or to pay him back for what he has done for us. The new covenant or agreement that went into effect at the resurrection is one of grace. Jesus restored our fellowship directly with God and there is nothing we can do to earn it or pay him back.

We believe the Church is made up of the people, a community of believers who walk daily under the headship of Jesus. It is not a building people meet in once or twice a week. We believe the Holy Spirit of Christ lives within us and guides us. There is no longer a reason to look to religion as a means to get closer to God. We no longer need a middle man or pastor as a mediator. We no longer choose to sit in an organized meeting being quiet and listening to a chosen few talk. We are all priests, we all have something to say and something to do. We no longer do anything out of obligation but out of love for God and our fellow mankind.

We also know there are many within the traditional church system who are there because of their love for God. The church is all we have known and many still feel that is where they need to be. For them they need to stay within the system and worship God there, but still understand what church is and is not.

Yes those of us who have come to see the system as a flawed way to God, we are happy to be outside the walls of religion. To be clear, if you are within the church system, love God and are serving him out of love and grace that is good. If you have left the organized church and you look to the Spirit for guidance and teaching and you understand that you are the Church, do not feel guilty. Do not let anyone tell you that you are wrong, or fallen from grace or backslidden. You are an important and necessary part of the body of Christ (the Church) just as much as those who attend a church building.

Whether in an organized church or outside the walls of religion, it is important to realize the difference between the old and new covenant. Many church systems teach a mixture of these and this should not be. A good book to read that explains the difference is Clash of the Covenants by Michael Kapler. If you are within the church system check out the differences so you will know if your pastor is teaching correctly about who you are in Christ.

Yes, we are done with religion. We have made a choice to leave the church system and walk outside the walls of religion. No, we have not left God. We love him and depend on him daily. We realize we are now his Church. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We no longer depend on rules and commandments to guide us since we have the Spirit living within. It is now a life of loving God and loving our fellow human beings and living in unconditional love (not always agreement) with all people.

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by Jordan Hathcock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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