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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

by Jim Gordon

John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 — And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

These verses clearly state that Jesus is the true, living, inerrant Word of God. It is not a book, but a living part of God.

Not to sound sacrilegious, but sometimes we followers of Christ can actually make too much of the Bible. People will hold it up and say it is the word of God and worship it more than they worship Christ. Yet it is Christ who is the true Word of God. He is the living and powerful Word and His Spirit lives within us.

In John 5:39 and 40, Jesus told the religious leaders “you study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life”. The religious leaders of the day spent so much time studying the scriptures that they missed the Living Word standing right in front of them. So often, we seem to do the very same thing.

The words written in the Bible are stories of men and women from only a certain recorded period of time. They wrote according to what they saw, what they believed, how they related to God and sometimes what they wished God would do. I also believe that many stories written were parables used to show a spiritual truth.

Over time the various translations certainly lost the original meaning due to custom change, word meaning change and even translators missing the mark on what was actually written.

This certainly does not mean we do not need to read the Bible, but we do need to keep it in its proper place. Apart from the guidance and enlightenment of the Spirit, the words of the Bible are nothing more than words in a book.

Rather than think of the trinity as the Father, Son and Holy Bible, we need to remember the Bible does not even record that it is the word of God. It certainly is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, but it is not perfect or inerrant in itself. The most important part the Bible plays is that it does lead us to the inerrant, living Word of God who is Jesus.

Jesus is who we are to look to for everything. He is the Word. He is our all in all and his Spirit lives within us as our teacher and guide.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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(What Exactly Does that Mean?)

by Jim Gordon

Over the past short period of time, we have heard of several “high profile christian leaders” say that they have left Christianity.

We have heard such comments from Joshua Harris, Paul Maxwell, Marty Sampson and I am sure several others.

When we hear this, many of us think that they have walked away from their faith and belief in God. Yet to rush into this way of thinking, we need to determine what exactly does the person mean by leaving Christianity.

I know first hand for my wife and I what it means, and it has nothing to do with leaving my faith or love for God.

The way I see it, Christianity is known more as a religion, just as Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism or any of the many other religions out there. Christianity is a religion based on Christ but certainly not started by nor endorsed by Jesus.

When reading the gospels we read how the disciples came to know and follow Jesus. At that time they did so apart from any religion, especially Christianity since the word was not even known at that time. In Acts 11:26 people were first called Christians, which was after Jesus had returned to the Father.

Christianity, in my opinion, is generally stereotyped into people who go to church each week, they follow a particular doctrine, regularly read their bible, tithe their money to the church and often think their way is the only way. In the United States they tend to be republican, are against abortion and believe those who are LGBTQ are the worst of sinners.

When I say I have left Christianity, I mean I am walking away from this stereotyped religion. In no way have I left my faith in God or turned from following Jesus, who said to love God and love one another. This can certainly be done apart from Christianity.

So, no longer being Christian, I can honestly say I love God, follow Jesus and love people. I do not attend a church organization, I do not put trust into any particular religious doctrine, I read the bible but I do not believe it is a rule book or an inerrant document. The Spirit lives within us and the Spirit leads and guides us. Apart from the Spirit bringing to life passages written in the bible, the book itself is a document written by men about their belief and experiences with God. I do not tithe but I give to help others. I am an independent voter and fully affirm and support those who are LGBTQ. On the matter of abortion, I certainly understand a woman wanting the freedom to make choices about her body. I also understand for those who believe life begins at conception, they would have a hard time believing abortion is the right choice. I believe rather than fighting about whether abortion is right or wrong, it would be much better to come up with alternatives on how to support women no matter which decision they make ( read more here ).

There are so many views and opinions within Christianity. We will all never completely agree. Yet our commonality is in our love for God, love for Jesus and love for our fellow human beings. As John 13:34-35 reads, ‘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’. Nothing here mentions Christianity or any religion. One does not need to follow a religion to love one another.

So, for my wife and I, we have left the religion of Christianity and are enjoying walking outside the box of religion and doctrinally controlled ideas. We are free to love, live and give as the Spirit leads us and for us, it is a much more meaningful way of walking with God.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

It is disappointing that Christianity is divided into so many different groups. We all have a little different interpretation of the bible and a little different understanding on doctrine. Obviously, we are not going to agree on everything, but we certainly should be able to love one another and accept each other even when we differ on such things.

There are many that do not attend a church. There are those who attend a church every time the doors are open. Some attend a mega church and others a very small church, some meet with fellow believers at cafe’s, parks and restaurants, and others meet in their homes over dinner. We should accept these differences and love one another rather than argue over who is right and who is wrong.

There really is not a right or wrong way to assemble together and we need to stop expecting everyone to do things exactly the same way. We should respect others viewpoints and focus on loving them rather than arguing and expecting them to see things our way.

It is hard to understand why this is when God tells us we are to be one, as Jesus and the Father are one. Yet, we understand that we are human and it is easy to lose sight of our first love. If we could only stay focused on loving God, listening for the voice and guidance of the Spirit within us and loving others, we could look past our differences.

Things will not change until we start focusing on what is common in our lives rather than the differences. The common focus should be on Christ, the head of the body. After that, we should focus on loving others rather than arguing about the differences in interpretation.

We also need to keep in mind that we are all constantly changing as God brings new truth to us. We are all learning and changing as we are ready to accept new truths. The views and opinions I had five years ago are completely different from some of the views and opinions I have now. I am sure in another five years they will change again as God leads me into more truth.

When we realize that each of us are necessary and equally important functioning parts of the body and Christ is the head, we can start to change how we feel about those who do not see things exactly the way we do. We can begin to accept our brothers and sisters in Christ as they are, as we come to realize we actually are one with God.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

It is amazing to me how many different voices there are in the ‘Christian’ world vying for our attention.

Everyone has their own thoughts and interpretations. I think we can learn something from everyone. Whether it is something new, a better way of doing things, a different way of thinking, or just realizing we do not agree with what we heard and it bolsters our own view.

Since everyone has an opinion, how do we know who is right and who is wrong? I really do not believe we can narrow it down to one way of right or wrong. God works in each of us in different ways, and what may be right for one person is not right for another.

We need to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit each day, and ask for the Spirit’s guidance into truth. We need to remember that that truth can be seen in different ways as the Spirit relates it to our individual life and personalities.

Our relationship with the Father is a day-by-day lifestyle. What we know and understand today may be completely different from what we believed when we were younger. What we believe today will probably change in the future. God leads us into His truth in His timing, as we are ready and open to it.

Our goal is to daily seek God’s guidance through the Spirit, and seek His truth. We need to focus on Christ. So many of us want to put our focus on a man, a popular evangelist, a pastor, a politician or political party. Obviously, we can learn from listening to others views and opinions, but when we focus on people, we can get off track and confused very easily.

Everyone has a different opinion. You can listen to one person or group and hear what they think is the truth, then find another person or group who has a completely different take on the same subject.

The only way to get past all the different views and opinions is to focus on Christ. He will teach us and lead us into the truth. That is not to say we are all going to think and feel the same way on everything. God deals with us personally and in different ways. The problem is when we are shown something or led in a particular way, we expect everyone to see it our way and believe the same thing.

It is time we become what we say we are, followers of Christ. Stop being followers of men. Nothing wrong with listening and hearing others views, but take it as that. It is their opinion. Only Christ is the one to follow. Only Christ is to be our everything. Listen to the Spirit within and live accordingly, but do not force your view on everyone else. The Spirit can lead and guide each one of us in the way that is best.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

Let’s be honest. More prayers are unanswered than answered. The amount of evil in the world suggests God doesn’t intervene most of the time. Many answered prayers could simply be humans taking action. God didn’t make your partner stop drinking; they finally hit bottom and got sick and tired of being sick and tired. Supposed miracle workers don’t go into hospitals. I bet hospital folks have as much faith as those healed at their rallies. Many are rightly disheartened about God when claims about prayers don’t match up with reality.

Wouldn’t a truly loving God be doing all they can before we ask?

Do we really think God is waiting to help others until we ask God to do something? Prayer must be more than manipulating God to act. God may wait for our invitation for personal help to be more the person we deep down desire to be, but God is tireless in doing all they can for others and desperately seeks our help to change the world.

Love can’t be controlling or arbitrary.

Your view of God determines your perspective and how you pray. I experienced as a child and learned as a parent controlling love is an oxymoron. It isn’t that God has the power to do something and doesn’t. God can’t change people or circumstances without them freely cooperating. Miracles don’t happen because some people are less sinful or beg better at the feet of an arbitrary God. Miracles happen when God’s uncontrolling love aligns with countless seen and unseen factors including human and organic agents.  

But the Bible says….

The truth is for almost every passage on prayer, there are opposing interpretations. Mathew 7:7 is used to support the false prosperity gospel: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Isn’t this passage in context simply saying that if we parents give good gifts despite our imperfections, will not God as our perfect Parent always want to give good gifts? First-century readers didn’t assume this was a blank check for requests. The Apostle Paul expected persecution for beliefs (2 Tim. 3:12), thus God obviously is not a genie! 

Prayer reminds us to offer help. 

God is an omnipresent Spirit. God already knows needs before spoken. It is easier sometimes to pray for someone than take cooperative actions with God. This is the most common way that God answers prayers. Rather than praying your friend’s partner stop drinking, which is harming their family, see if your friend would rather you say something to their partner. When you know two friends are in conflict, speak to the one wrongly denying any wrongdoing. God always desire our permission to use our lives to help others. 

Praying keeps us connected to God.

We could replace the word “praying” in the Bible with “talking.” We can talk to God for many reasons including pursuing a closer relationship with our Creator to be more like God, for self-examination, for sharing our concerns, and not feeling alone in a chaotic world. We tell our children associating with the right people leads to making wiser choices. Talking to God can influence us to be more loving like God toward others. 

Freedom and evil! 

Pretending God can simply wave a magic wand, without accounting for freedom, can make one’s suffering worse. Did I not beg enough? Did I not behave enough or have the right attitude? It seems God creating freedom necessitates one being able to do as much harm as they can do good. Authenticity, the highest good in relationships, is impossible without freedom. While God always loves to the greatest extent possible, God is not in control of everything and everybody. It isn’t that God had the power to do something about it, but chose not to, it is that God could not. Divine love limits divine power. Simply put, God’s love is uncontrolling.

So, why pray?

God is always listening. God has endless mercy and forgiveness so we don’t give up no matter how demoralized we may feel. God is always available in times of loneliness. Friends can’t always be available in the middle of the night, or we may feel that we are overburdening our friends by constantly going to them. God speaks to us mostly through self-reflection as God wants us to feel free to make decisions based on our gifts and aspirations. God only has moral biases for our best interests. We know God is speaking to when we hear: I love you; I forgive you; I won’t abandon you; I always have your and others’ best interests in mind.   

 

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

It seems doubtful a Creator would communicate to their creations only through a Book, since the majority of people born into this world didn’t possess a copy of the Bible. Even the Bible suggests to look for God’s guidance through a Spirit than a Book (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). We can think of the Holy Spirit as God’s Spirit or Presence.

God mainly guides through influence. 

Since God isn’t visibly or audibly for most of us, God must guide through influence. We are not entirely unfamiliar with such guidance. If we were close to our parents, even if they have passed, we still are influenced by them. It could be loving on God’s part to allow human parents to guide us in the beginning, rather than a visible God who we may be overwhelmed by or unable to relate to as much. The example a parent sets, and our mental image of God, can guide though not physically present.

Our image of God is everything. 

The Bible frequently uses the analogy of God as our Heavenly Father/Parent to understand God as best we can. God obviously isn’t exactly like human parents for we cannot be in all places at one time, but an analogy helps to discern what might be commonalities. The Bible says to strive to imitate or be perfect like God (Eph. 5:1; Mt. 5:48). It is only intuitive to think a Creator would love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. Said another way, how you wished to be loved by your parents is how God loves us. God’s image is a perfect, loving Parent!

How does God’s influence work?

We know the Spirit’s influence when we continually strive to be the perfect partner, parent, or friend despite our failures. We know the Spirit’s influence when we recognize violence begets violence and respond non-violently when able. We know the Spirit’s influence when we have wronged someone, we quickly confess and make amends. That is more supernatural than natural. The Spirit speaks like a loving parent would: I love you; I forgive you; I won’t abandon you. 

What about moral guidance?

Moral knowledge isn’t hidden. Universal moral outrage toward murder, adultery, stealing, etc. hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. There is practically universal agreement concerning the golden rule. We don’t always know what perfect love entails, but we know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others as I wish to be loved or as our Creator loves us. Some matters declared moral aren’t necessarily. There are two sides in handling challenges such as immigration, taxes, climate strategies, etc. Open discussions can lead to creative solutions not chaos. 

What about future decisions?

It is natural to think an all-knowing, powerful God has special insights into future outcomes to avoid problems. To say God knows the future suggests a predetermined future making freedom nonsensical. God’s plan is not a detailed blueprint but a general one to set us free to love. God can’t tell you if the person you want to marry won’t end up betraying you or the job you take won’t end up being phased out. God joins us in an open future. We surely have God’s blessing choosing the wisest, more loving path at the time based on past experiences, current circumstances, and future aspirations. God seeks only to influence us to do all the good we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, as long as we can. Such a plan leads to true happiness in the long-run for a better world.

We don’t always have to be certain if mental impressions are the Spirit’s voice.

God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to consuming guilt or fearful obligations to obey. When parents push their agendas, even if in their child’s best interests, they may resent or rebel against coercion and never turn back. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow for heartfelt choices. Many moral decisions are clear and agreed upon. Some though declare supposed certainty often in God’s name. Civil discussions, proclaiming uncertainty not certainty, can led to new understandings.

 

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

As followers of Christ, we have a hope within us that can be an encouragement to us, and that can uplift us during the events of our daily life. Because of this, we want others to know and share in having that hope for themselves.

Yet, we often go a little overboard on when and how to let others know about that hope. Have you ever felt guilty because you did not say something to someone about Christ? Do you feel obligated to speak your mind about a particular sin? Do you feel it is your duty as a Christian to force every opportunity into a chance to tell someone about salvation?

Quite frankly, I disagree with all of those thoughts. I agree that some people have the gift of evangelism and should be using that gift to the fullest. I also feel that not all of us need to be forcing the issue with those we come in contact each day.

We all have probably at one time or another taken (or forced) an opportunity to tell someone about the love of God. It seems even to the point of wanting to make converts more than wanting to make friends. I have experienced a few times when people I just met in a store or restaurant were extra nice and doing their best to talk with me. I thought they were just being nice, or maybe this will be a new friend only to find out they were just trying to make a new convert to their church.

As Christians, we are told to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love others as ourselves. When we live our lives each day under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the love of God, the way we act will be a witness to God’s love, and usually no words are necessary.

Anyone can speak words…words of needing salvation, words of how we should live for God, words against particular sins, but words themselves have no strength. It is the daily life we live allowing the love of God to show through that makes a difference. When we consistently live what we believe, it has more impact than thousands of words.

We need to remember that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts and draws people to God. It is not our job to try to convert people. It is not our job to condemn or judge anyone. We are only to love God and love the people that we meet each day.

1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12 tells us that we should live a quiet life, working with our hands and be ready to give an account of the hope that is within us.

Notice we are told to be ready to speak up when asked. Go about your daily routine minding your business and living a peaceful life, but be ready to give an answer about God’s love when someone asks. Of course, this should be done in love and with no ulterior motive attached. Always follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, knowing that our words on their own will not make an impact on anyone.

By living this way and not forcing our views on others, the words we do say will have more meaning to those who are wondering what the hope is that we have within us.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

The Word of God is important to us today, just as the Word of God has always been important. The question is what actually is the Word of God?

Growing up in church, I was always taught that the bible was the perfect, inerrant word of God. People would tell me if the bible was not perfect, then how could we believe anything about God? To me, that seems to put a lot of emphasis and importance on the bible rather than on God. Remember, it is not the Father, Son and Holy Bible.

Just because a book written by many men over many, many years is not inerrant does not mean God does not exist or cannot be trusted. God is much bigger and more powerful than to be controlled by a book.

The bible was written by men who were inspired but not controlled by God. It was writings of their views, opinions and experiences learning about God, and trying to relate to and follow God. They were not over powered and used as God’s hands to write the words of the bible.

The bible, even according to the bible itself, is not the word of God. We are told in John 1:1 that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. It later says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The bible is not the word of God but it leads us to the Word of God (Jesus/God) and to our own experiences with God.

The bible is certainly worth reading, especially since it does say in 2 Timothy that all scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness. Inspired and directly written are two different things. I may be inspired by someone to write an article or a book, but what I write will be from my experiences, opinion and knowledge.

The bible comes to life when the Spirit illuminates what God has for us. Apart from the leading of the Holy Spirit, the bible is only man’s views and experiences with God. It is the Spirit that lives within us that teaches and brings to life the words that were written. It is the Spirit that leads us to a life with God that has purpose and meaning. And it is the Spirit that gives us strength to show the love of God to other people as we live our lives daily for him.

Read the bible, ask the Spirit to speak to you while doing so, but do not elevate the bible to a position it does not even ask for. The Word of God is alive, powerful and inerrant, but the Word of God we are talking about is Jesus, by his Spirit, living in you.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

As christian people, we have always heard that we are to love our enemies. Do good to those who use you. Turn the other cheek.

The dictionary describes an enemy as a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against; or an adversary or opponent.

An enemy can go from someone who rubs you the wrong way all the way to someone who wants to literally kill you. How is it possible that we can love our enemies when we think about the more extreme sense of the word?

In all honesty, we just cannot do it. In our own human ways, we are incapable of loving people in this way. We have a hard enough time loving people who are similar to us and have some of the same beliefs.

Many times, we can make up our mind to look past someone who treats us bad. We can make sure to treat them in a kind way, help them when they have a problem, support them any way we can. We can walk away rather than argue. We can smile and be pleasant rather than give them a dirty look or flip them off. Sometimes it is within our human power to make a choice to treat others as we would like to be treated. There are other times when, in our own strength, it is just impossible to be loving.

Obviously, we look to our role model, Jesus, to see how he lived. He truly loved people. It did not matter if they agreed with him, if they were despised by the general population, if they hated him, or if they put him to death. He loved mankind. He came with the purpose to show the love of the Father to a fallen world.

Without the love of the Father living within us, we will not be able to truly love our enemies. With the power of the Spirit living within us we are more than able to do what we cannot do on our own.

We have to come to an end of ourselves, just as in the case of grace. We were totally unable to keep the commandments and live a perfect life that God commands. The ten commandments are a tutor that leads us to the fact that we are incapable of fulfilling this requirement.

Thankfully the New Covenant took effect after Jesus death and resurrection, and we were reunited in fellowship with God. The free gift of God’s grace cleansed us and made us new creatures in Christ. Now, because of Him, we can love God and love one another, even our enemies. We are now one with God and his spirit loves through us.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

I remember when I was young, I was in a church service just about any time the doors were open. My whole spiritual life depended on whether I was at church or not. If I did not go, I felt guilty and made sure I was there the next time. I was always active and participated in many church activities. I felt it was my duty and responsibility to do all I could for the church. I felt that was the only way I could serve God and do what pleased Him.

After many years of being in the organized church system, my wife and I became disillusioned with the religious organization and became a part of ‘The Dones’. We no longer attend a traditional or organized church, and no longer put any hope or trust in religion.

Does this mean we no longer think it is right to be part of a church? Not at all, that is a personal choice. Yet for us, we no longer are a part of it and we are very satisfied with the decision we made to leave. But that does not mean we expect everyone else to think the same way. We have several friends who feel the same way we do about organized religion, yet they want to continue to attend services.

In our case, after leaving the organized church I have noticed a feeling of separation between church goers and non-church goers. After all the years we spent in the organization and all the friends we made, once we left it has been a struggle to overcome a feeling of us and them. Obviously, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and there should be love and acceptance between us no matter if we attend church or not.

If you still feel drawn to the weekly organized meeting, I do not see anything wrong with it. Although we do not believe the church system is designed as God intended, there were very many good things that came out of our time being involved. If you are going to be a part of a local church, keep in mind some important facts.

When going to church, you are not going to God’s house. God does not live in buildings made by human hands. Christ builds His Church from living stones, which is us.

The pastor is not God’s mouthpiece. He or she is only a brother or sister in Christ, and their message is only their opinion. We have the Holy Spirit within us and He is our teacher and guide. We need no one else. It is good to hear other opinions and ideas, yet it is the Spirit that is to be our teacher and guide.

Bringing the tithe into the storehouse is not giving money to the church, and is no longer a requirement. We give out of love as we determine in our heart to give. If you give at the church you attend, you are not giving to God, but to support the organization and pay the bills.

Sunday is not the “Lord’s day”. Every day is the day the Lord has made, and no one day is more important than another.

The Bible is not to be held in the same regard as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The written word is inspired by God but written by men. All the translating men have done over the years, and men deciding which books are inspired and which are not, make it pretty clear that the bible is going to be flawed.  It is clearly stated that Jesus is the living, inerrant Word of God. The written word is a guide to lead us to Christ, but as Jesus told the Pharisees in John 5:39, You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me. They put the scriptures (written word) above the Living Word (Jesus).

When we are told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, it is not talking about an organized church meeting. It is talking about loving and accepting one another, depending on one another and encouraging one another. We do this in many different ways each and every day, not just on one particular day.

When you go to church, do not fall for someone telling you God is going to show up and the Spirit is going to fall on this place. God is everywhere and the Spirit fell upon mankind 2000 years ago. The Spirit of God is within us and with us all the time. He is not sitting on a throne up in the sky waiting for us. He goes with us each and every day, everywhere we go.

Realize that worship is not singing a few songs, raising your hands when the worship leader tells you to and reading a few scripture verses together. Worship is daily praising God, trusting God and letting Him be Lord of your life. To worship God in spirit and truth involves loving Him with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.

And do not give way to a prideful spirit, thinking you are more spiritual or a “better” Christian because you went to church. Going to a service is a choice, not a requirement and you are no better if you go, and no worse off if you do not go.

Remember, each of us are living stones and equal parts of the body. We are the Church and Jesus is the head of his body. As his Church we are to show God’s love every day to everyone we meet. If you want to attend a local group of believers there is nothing wrong with that. Enjoy meeting with other believers, enjoy the atmosphere but remember you are the Church, you have the mind of Christ and the Spirit of God lives within you. We are to go about our daily lives under the leading of the Spirit, loving God and loving others whether we attend an organized church or not.

So, rather than looking down upon one another: those who attend church thinking we who have left the organization are backsliding from our faith or have walked away from God. Those of us who have left church think those who still attend are stuck in a man-made institution and following doctrines and interpretations of man. Rather, we should realize that we are brothers and sisters in Christ and each of us are loving God and doing what we feel is right and best at this point. We should be loving and accepting of one another and let the world see the love we have for one another, even in our differences. As John 13:35 reads, by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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