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by Jim Gordon

I recently listened to a YouTube video by Richard Jacobson and in it he mentioned veal crates. I had never heard of that before so I checked it out a little. It was interesting reading about veal crates and it got me to thinking about another type of box.

What I found was that veal crates are a close-confinement system of raising veal calves. Veal crates are designed to limit movement of the animal because meat turns redder and tougher if the animals are allowed to exercise. In some veal crate systems, the calves are kept in the dark without bedding and fed nothing but milk.

Veal crates seem to limit the calf from being able to move about and roam in much larger areas thus getting exercise which would cause the animal to strengthen. It also keeps them from contact with other calves and under the control of the person raising the calf.

VealCrate

Personally, this makes me think of the institutional church. Before we go any further, I want to point out that I am not an enemy of the church. I was part of the institution for over fifty years and very involved, so I can speak as an insider rather than someone who knows nothing of what I am saying. I do believe the institution confines us and limits the freedom God intended us to have.

I also realize that people cannot just up and leave because someone else says they should. It is a choice between the person and the Spirit. I believe there is specific timing as to when and if someone leaves the religious institution. I know for me it took fifteen years or so of being dissatisfied and thinking there had to be more. As Barbara Symons mentioned in her book ‘Escaping Christianity: Finding Christ’, “There is a need for all of us to experience restriction until Christ is formed within—like a pearl within an oyster, closed tightly until the time of harvesting. Before I understood this principle, I tried to convince others to leave the system as I did and in retrospect, it was before their time. I felt like a cage fighter; only my opponent was the cage itself. I was battered and beaten by trying to dismantle the religious system from the inside out as I tried to liberate those still within its grasp. I now understand that people will remain within restraint as long as they need to”.

People are brought into the box of religion and kept there to support and grow the institution. Once inside the box they are taught what that particular denomination believes or how that specific pastor thinks. Sometimes they are kept in the dark and only fed the milk of the word rather than the meat that gives them strength, knowledge and the ability to hear the Spirit for themselves.

Many times, people are restrained from being free to serve and use the gifts they have been given. Therefore, due to lack of exercise of using their talents they become weak and have no confidence to do anything other than what the institution says.

Most of the time they are only having fellowship with those within the box and usually encouraged to avoid fellowship with people who see things differently or do not go along with their way of thinking.

Outofthebox

Rather than enjoying the freedom God has provided outside the box and a life of accepting others and loving others, they are kept inside. By doing so they learn to exclude people, avoid certain people and are only fed the knowledge the institution and pastor wants them to know, all with the purpose to keep them from leaving.

It seems to me that breaking out of the box and being free to follow God without the rules, regulations and expectations of religion would be a much better way of showing the love of God to others. Being free to fellowship with all people, accept and love others with the love of God no matter who they are or what they believe.

We are not meant to be confined within the walls of institutional religion. God has set us free to follow Jesus wherever he leads. We are free from the rules that religion puts upon us for the purpose of making us better Christians. We are the Church that Jesus is building, a people who love and follow him not a building or organization.

Rather than live within the confines of the box religion puts us in, break free and live in the world God has created. Love people, accept others and show the unconditional love of God to everyone.

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by Jim Gordon

I have watched with displeasure at times the discussions and comments on Social Media. This is a common way of communication these days and it is very easy to be much bolder and argumentative than usual. We express our thoughts and feelings in a much meaner way than we would if we were face to face.

I think most people find that sitting in front of a computer screen gives a sense of boldness and openness to express themselves in ways that are not always a good thing. I think there is something about not being in the presence of someone or seeing their face that emboldens us and allows our mean side to come out.

arguingonline

To me it is the same feeling you can get when you get behind the wheel of a car. All of a sudden we seem to be in attack mode. We blow our horn at others, yell and curse and flip people off, yet if we walked by them on the street we would smile and say hello.

There is something about face to face communication that usually changes the way we talk to and treat others. Face to face communication seems to take away the meanness we usually find with social media communication. Looking someone in the face, being in their presence seems to soften the way we talk and respond.

Why is it we cannot seem to see the human person behind the computer screen? Why is it we feel the meanness, this emboldened power to treat others with contempt? Remember Jesus said to love not only those who love you but to love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.

There is nothing wrong with social media and communicating through it. Just keep in mind that there is another human being on the other end, and even though we are not in their physical presence the things we say and the way we react has an impact on them. Let us make it a point to have a positive, encouraging impact when we communicate with others.

The way of Christ is the way of love. Whether it be online or in person we are to love our neighbors. In our world today living in love is becoming rare. Yet by doing so in the power of the Spirit it will be noticed and it will make a difference in the lives of those who are hurting and so desperately seeking for love and acceptance.

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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.

 

NoahsArkisJesus

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

War in our world has been a constant companion to mankind. It becomes more and more the way of life but the effects seem to be worse and worse.

Growing up in church we were taught that God is love and that we should love our enemies, yet we heard all the stories about God telling the Israelites to go to war against their enemies and kill them all. That always confused me as it seems so contradictory.

It seems like you can find wars going on anywhere in our world today, many of them are over matters that seem so unimportant. Kind of like the fighting and arguing that goes on within the organized churches. People fight over such insignificant reasons, over difference in doctrine or bible interpretation. Yet we are supposed to be known for our love for one another. Something seems odd about that to me.

I personally believe the best way to calm a hostile situation is with a loving, calm and peaceful attitude. I also know we live in a world that is not under God’s command. We live in a very hateful, stress-filled world where people are only concerned with their own goals and interests and they will do whatever it takes to accomplish those goals.

In a perfect world we would have no need for war because we would all being loving one another, caring for one another and be more interested in the needs of others. Obviously, we do not live in a perfect world and war is going to be an issue.

PeaceWar

I feel that most wars are needless and so many people fight and die over issues that are really not important. Most of it boils down to money and power, just like everything else in a world without God.

Yet there are times when I believe war may be necessary. It is still terrible and still not the first or best choice but there will be times when wars will need to be fought. In our world where money, power, hate and selfishness rule, there will be times when people, ideals or causes will need to be stopped. Unfortunately, that means sometimes there will be wars or else the innocent will be walked over, taken over, tortured and killed.

This is not the plan of God. This is human nature running rampant in a godless world. War is mankind at its worst even when there is a necessary reason to fight. Those necessary times when the ideals and goals of the Hitler’s and bin Laden’s of our world need to be stopped.

I honestly believe that many of the stories in the bible about God commanding war and killing of people is a misinterpretation of God. We know that Jesus displayed what God is really like. He said that God is love and that we are to love our enemies and love our neighbors. I do not believe God ever caused the killing of people because God never changes. It was people of the time telling about life as they saw it and they attributed their actions to their God. Actions and killings that really were not ordained by God in the first place.

As followers of Jesus, our allegiance belongs to Christ. He is the head of the Kingdom of God in which we live. We are citizens of heaven and we live by a different code than the world. Yet we still live in this world which is under a different ruler, a ruler of hate, power, money and selfishness. Although war is not our first choice and not what we feel is right, there are going to be times when it is necessary to stop the evil being done towards the innocent.

I pray for wisdom for our leaders that wars and fighting will not be started over issues that are not about the safety and concern of the innocent. I pray that more diplomatic ways of love and acceptance can prevail and we can live together in this world without all the hatred, wars and killing of innocent people.

 

This post was part of the July 2018 Synchroblog on the topic of Just War and Pacifism. Here are links to others who contributed this month. Go read them all!

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by Jim Gordon

I have read many articles about church abuse. It seems many Christians have been through bad times in the organized church and they have become angry and frustrated with the system. Certainly understandable.

For me, I cannot say I went through anything I would call abuse in the system. I grew up in church and was very active over the years. I truly felt I was doing what was pleasing to God and I earnestly was trying to learn and do what He would want me to do.

When I hear all the abuse stories and all the troubling times in organized religion, I do not always understand. I know there are many people in the modern, organized church that truly love God and are trying to please him. I also realize there are many people who were unduly abused in various ways during their church life, and that is very sad.

For me, after several years of being unsatisfied with the system and feeling there certainly had to be more to it than what I had been part of, I stopped attending a traditional church. Obviously, this has to be something you feel is right for you. I do not think it is a good thing to tell people they should do the same. This is a choice that each believer has to make for themselves. I came to this conclusion after many years of seeing things, questioning things, reading things and just being completely frustrated with the system of organized religion.

I have no regrets in leaving, although I have no regrets for being a part of it for so many years either. I did learn a lot and made a lot of good friends. Of course, because of the years involved there are many beliefs and ideas I need to detox from now.

For now, feeling the system is wrong, my wife and I have decided to walk with God outside the walls of the organized church. Not that anyone is intentionally trying to do what is wrong but the whole modern-day organized church is off base. Granted, the system is the only thing we know. It has been this way for years and we grew up with it and thought it was the way it should be.

We have it engrained in us that to assemble ourselves together is to go to church on Sunday morning and sit through a scheduled program. Nowhere does scripture tell us that assembling together has to be done in a particular way, at a special time or in a set place.

churchnotabuilding

We are told that the pastor is the spiritual head and the one we learn from and come under authority and guidance. Of course, God tells us that Jesus is the head of the church, which is his body and the Holy Spirit is our teacher and we need no one to teach us other than him.

We are taught that we are saved by grace, but we need to live by the law to be pleasing to God. Reading through Paul’s teachings it is easy to see that we live by grace. Now trying to live under the law is a curse (Galatians 3:10-13). Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant Law for us because we could not do it. Jesus did the work, Jesus died and ended the Old Covenant. Upon his resurrection the New Covenant began and we now live by grace. The New Covenant tells us to love God with all our heart and love others.

The Law was a tutor to show us that we were completely incapable of keeping the law and living a perfect life. Only Jesus was able to live a perfect life. For us Christians, a tutor is no longer needed because we have come to Christ and depend on his work and grace.

We are taught that the Bible is the true, living, inerrant word of God. John 1:1 tells us that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. To me that says that Jesus is the living Word. The Bible is the inspired words of God, but we are not to look to the Bible as the all-powerful, inerrant source of what God has to say. We should look to Jesus who is our all in all, our very life.

We are taught to tithe although that is not taught under the New Covenant. Giving as we see a need and as we feel lead is now done out of love, not tithing to the church as a requirement. I personally feel the church today is more of a big business than it is a religious organization. Tithing is pushed because the organization needs to have the bills and the salaries paid.

We are told we are poor sinners saved by grace and that we are weak, unrighteous worms who are unworthy of God’s love. Yet the bible says we were originally created in the likeness of God. We cannot live a perfect life in our humanness but because of Christ and the work he has done, we have been restored to fellowship with our Father. We are now the house of God and we are holy and righteous in his sight because of Christ.

People want to put themselves under the authority of a pastor or the elders of the church, but God says we are all kings and priests and Jesus is the head. We all have something to say when we come together to build one another up. There are no levels of authority among believers. We are all equal parts of his body and have equally important functions to fulfill in encouraging and building one another up.

I think an important fact for us to remember today is that no matter if you are ‘in church’ or outside the walls, we should be looking to each other in love and not fight and argue amongst ourselves. Whether you are going to church, you are going for the Lord, or if you do not go to church, you are doing so for the Lord. Accept each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, pray for one another, encourage one another and stop looking down on people who see things differently than you.

Even those outside of Christianity need our love not our condemnation. Jesus loved those who the religious leaders of his day did not want to have any association. We want our Christian church, Christian schools, Christian dating sites, Christian this, Christian that, whatever we can do to be separate and apart from the non-Christians. Yet we were told to go into all the world and show the love of God to all those that are around us.

YouaretheChurch490

I truly feel that being a person in Christ is a daily lifestyle. Being the church is a 24/7 way of life not a Sunday only thing. God said that He is building His church and that He no longer lives in buildings made with hands. We are the church, we are God’s house, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we are the body of Christ. We function together as equally needed parts of the body under the headship of Jesus.

We need to adjust our way of thinking and realize that church and Christianity are not a religion. It is a lifestyle we live day by day. Jesus is our life, it should be no longer us trying and doing, but resting in what Christ has done for us. We are in Christ and it is him living in us day by day that makes the difference. We may be the only Jesus a lot of people will ever know.

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by Jim Gordon

Growing up in christianity, I found myself always wearing a mask when I went to church. I always wore a smile on my face and I always acted like everything was good. When people would ask me how I was doing I would always say ‘I’m doing great’.

WearingMasks

The problem was I did not always feel like smiling. I was not always doing great.

So often in our christian walk we get the idea that we cannot be ourselves. We have to always be upbeat and positive and we cannot let people see we are human and have bad days.

I am not sure where that whole idea came from, but it is not wrong for our human emotions be seen. We are not always going to be happy or in a good mood, and there will be times when we are mad, aggravated or depressed. That is just being a normal human being.

I think we need to come to the point where we are not afraid to be the real us. We need to take off the mask and just be human.

That certainly does not mean we go around grumbling and complaining to everyone we meet all the time. We do not yell and take our frustrations out on everyone every time we see them. Yet we should not hide who we really are or how we really feel.

When we have those days of frustration and depression, it is then our brothers and sisters and those who care about us can be a help and encouragement and can lift us up.

As followers of Christ we have a deep-down sense of spiritual peace and joy that passes comprehension. That does not mean there are times when our humanity is just not in a good mood.

PeacethatPassesUnderstanding

That is why we need one another, why we need fellow believers and friends who care about us. None of us are always in a good mood. When we are down, our friends can help lift us up. When they are down, we can help lift them up.

Friendship, whether it is between fellow believers or people who see things completely opposite, is important to our well-being.

Being friends does not have to be with people of the same faith or with similar views. Jesus said to love God and love your neighbor. Our neighbor, whether a fellow believer or not, can be a good friend when we look past the differences and love one another.

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by Jim Gordon

In these days of so many tragedies it is easy to start posting articles on social media about what needs to be done. I have tried to stay away from political postings and personal views on hot topics of the day. The few times I did make a comment it made we wish I had not.

Everyone has an opinion, and usually when it comes to the major issues going on in the news, posting your thoughts only bring about arguments and misunderstandings. I have found it best to stay away from posting personal views online.

StoptheViolence

In regard to the school shootings we all have an idea of what needs to be done. Those ideas vary widely from one end of the spectrum to the other. The main point I have found is that we all want to end the senseless killing of innocent people. How we go about that is very widely disputed and argued, so I do not want to go any further with that idea.

For me the main topic I enjoy writing about is the love of God and the love we are to have for one another.

Bad things are going to happen in this world, and there are plenty of people who will write and discuss such things. I do not feel I need to be another voice talking about the negative, terrible events that go on in our world. It is good that some people do write about this so we are all informed, but I do not feel the calling to do so.

I would rather write and hear about how people support one another, care and respect one another and build each other up in a world that many times has such a negative attitude.

I certainly do not have the answers to bring an end to tragedy, hate and unacceptance. I do believe that love and accepting others will have a more positive effect.

As a believer in God, I do not think it is my job to push my beliefs on others but I do think it is my calling to love people. All people, not just those who think like me or believe like me. Jesus said to love God and love your neighbor. I believe my neighbor is every person I come in contact with throughout my life.

To me being a christian means loving God and loving people. It is not going to a building once a week, it is not following religious rules, it is not pointing out the sins and mistakes of others or standing my ground on my interpretation of christian beliefs.

LoveGodLoveOthers

Being a christian is being a follower of the example of the life of Jesus. He loved people and showed the love and acceptance of his father to a world that did not know real love. That is what we, as his followers are to do today. Show the unconditional love of our father to all people no matter what label is placed upon them.

We have enough tragedy, unacceptance and hatred in our world. It is time we look past our differences, stop pushing our religious rules and interpretations and let the love of God touch the people we have contact with each and every day.

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