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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus follower’

by Jim Gordon

As Christian people, it seems our most emphasized event is attending church each week. I know my mom and dad took me to church the first time it was safe to take me out after being born.

I continued with regular church attendance for the next 55 years or so, all the time feeling I was doing what was the most important part of being a Christian. I looked to the pastor as my main teacher and guide, and attended all the events at the church that I could.

Even when I talked with others about God, it was more in tune with asking them to come to church. My whole Christian life seemed to be more about church life rather than living the follower of Jesus life.

It started bothering me over the last 15 – 20 years about going to church each week, year after year, sitting there listening to a chosen few participate and the rest of us just sitting, looking at the back of one another’s heads. Where was the fellowship in that?

Today when we talk about church, what we are really talking about is a religious organization that meets in a building, follows particular interpretations and doctrines and is guided by a select few people. It seems to me the biggest part of this system is getting enough people involved to make enough money to pay the bills.

In the organized church today it seems we strive to pay the mortgage, pay the utilities, pay for insurance, salaries and all the items we feel we need to put on a good performance each Sunday. If there is enough left over after all that is paid, we may put in a little to help the homeless or some good cause the leadership feels is worth it.

In more recent time, many churches have become known for participating in political activism. Some churches I have been in had a reserved section for local politicians where they could sit together and be seen. Some even provide time for politicians to speak and many endorse and back certain political parties and candidates.

I personally feel this is wrong, but although they cannot make their members vote in any particular way, many who belong to a specific church take what they hear from their pastor as gospel truth. Due to this, I believe the churches today should be taxed and pay their fair share like any other business.

I remember reading in the bible that when you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. I read that Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to live within us and that we are now the temple of God. I also read that the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands, and that we have the Spirit within us and we no longer need anyone to teach us because the Spirit is now our leader and guide. It certainly raised questions about church attendance as I knew it.

Yet when I read forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, I often wondered if we were being told to participate in an organized religious service. What I determined was that the assembling together does not necessarily mean in an organized service on a set day under the guidance of other human beings. It means that we need one another. We need fellowship, encouragement and being able to express our thoughts and feelings with others. That does not need to be in a building, or in an organized service, or under the control of a specific leader. I have found it actually works better outside the walls of church. It comes about as the Spirit leads us to one another throughout our normal day to day lives.

Is it wrong to gather? No, there are plenty of good Christian clubs and organizations where people can get together. The organized church is just another one of those organizations meant to provide support and encouragement for one another.

The church as a religious organization, based on its particular beliefs and doctrines, is not what Jesus was talking about when he said he would build his Church. I believe he was talking about building his followers into a living organism that would spread his love and good works to other people they met along the journey of life. And doing so would mean living life out in the open, day by day where we are in contact with others. I do not believe we are meant to be shut up within four walls of a building expecting people to come to us.

So for my wife and I, we left doing the day to day business of the church…attending the organized meetings, paying to keep the building and system running along with following the pastor, the doctrines and the rules of the church. Yet we did not leave our love for God and for people. We left the organization, we left man led religion, but we still follow Jesus. We, like many others, are doing the day to day business of the ‘Church’ that Jesus is building. Those who are his followers are the Church whether they meet in a building or never walk through the doors of what we know as church today.

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by Jim Gordon

There is an old hymn that says “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand”. This leads me to think about the organized church. As important as the church is in our lives, we have to be careful not to put our hope in it. I have received a lot of help through the church and a lot of good basic teachings. I also learned of salvation but my hope is not in the church. My hope is in “Christ the solid rock”.

There are times when we are alone in our walk with God and without regular fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of us have left the organization and are deconstructing our faith and may have to stand alone for a while. Fortunately, we can rely on our relationship with Christ because his Spirit lives within us. The church is no substitute for Christ. It is where we can learn about Him but it is not the goal. The point is that we have a relationship with Christ and not the church, and He is our source of strength.

The modern-day organized church is a place for believers to get together, but it is not the main source. Going to church does not make us Christians, it does not make us better people or more dedicated believers. It is a place to get ideas, different interpretations and encouragement from others, a place to meet other believers and enjoy fellowship, and a place to reach out and help others.

We need to stop putting the focus and emphasis on church, stop putting our eyes on pastors and realize that they are not the answer. We need to put all focus and attention on Christ. It is Jesus who we follow and worship. He is the Shepherd and the rest of us are his sheep. There are no co-shepherds and no intermediates between Christ and us. We are to follow Christ and Him alone. We are to learn from Him and love others equally.

There is nothing wrong with going to church, but do not put your eyes on it and the leaders therein. Keep your focus on Christ. Whether you go to church or do not go to church, Christ is the one we look to and serve. Do not worry so much about going to church, but rather be the Church. It is not a building we go to, but it is the people who love and follow Christ.

If you have been going through the deconstruction process from organized religion like I have, you will learn that you can depend on Jesus to lead you into his truth. He will prove His love and care for you over and over just as he has done for me. Bottom line, let’s be careful that we do not put our dependence on an organization but on Jesus. All other ground is sinking sand.

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by Jim Gordon

My wife and I often discuss using the word Christian these days. We wonder whether we should describe ourselves by the word Christian or not. We think it all boils down to what we mean by the word Christian.

So often the word means many things we are not. Say the word Christian and many people automatically stereotype you to basic beliefs and doctrines of the religion of Christianity and not necessarily to what we truly believe.

If being a Christian is being part of a religious organization that meets in a building on a particular day and follows set doctrines based on a particular denomination then no, we are not Christians. If being a Christian is being part of a group that is opposed to all other people and religions and only accepts those who believe like we do then no, we are not Christians. If being a Christian has anything to do with man-made religion, exclusion, hatred, following old covenant law then no, we are not Christians.

In Acts 11:26 the disciples were first called Christians by people in Antioch. I always heard that they were called Christians because they were acting like Christ. The people there were calling them little Christ’s because of the way they showed the love and power of Christ. Now, if that is what is meant by being a Christian then we are all in.

There are many ways we can described ourselves…believers, Christ followers, disciples of Christ, followers of the way, and even Christians. Yet the term itself really does not matter. What matters is how we live our lives. Is Christ preeminent? Are we living as one with him? Are we allowing the love of Christ to live through us, accepting others, loving others and being little Christ’s to all we meet? If not, whatever word we use to describe our religious belief does not make any difference.

When people see us, they should see Christ. When people see Christ, they should see God who is love. He lives within us and we should be known for the love we have for him and for the love we have for our fellow human beings. Do not worry so much about the label we use. Follow the leading of the Spirit of Christ who lives within us. Share the love of God with each and every person we meet. Be known for sharing the love of God rather than for what religious word we choose to use.

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Mike Edwards

Bible folks are probably familiar with the Apostle Paul’s saying: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith (I Cor. 15:14). Paul of course said this because he heard Jesus’ voice after his resurrection (Acts 9:5). I wasn’t there but I am still convinced God’s message to live an unselfish life is worth it, even if it turns out there is nothing at the end of life.

Who can blame many for lack of belief in God?

An assumption often made about atheists is they don’t buy into God because they are trying to justify an immoral lifestyle. Please! There are many reasons one may not believe in God or any afterlife. One could certainly understand why many reject God based on claims made by Christians– God created Hell, God condemns gays, etc. The good news is that these beliefs are questionable even according to the Bible, much less whether could be true of a loving God.

Do we follow God only for the reward?

Many God-followers rightly speak out against claims that Jesus came to save us from Hell because God is so pissed at us. Turns out such a torture chamber doesn’t exist in the Bible. See here. But, how is obeying God to avoid Hell any different than obeying God to get into Heaven? Genuine relationships aren’t based on fear or reward. What kind of relationship do you really have with a parent when you can’t speak openly for fear of being punished or rejected?

What did Jesus try to save us from?

We humans are always looking for a scapegoat when we fail. Was God really pissed at us and needed to use violence to have his thirst for justice quenched? God could have let his anger go and simply forgiven when one truly regretted their actions. Wouldn’t you? Jesus hoped to work a moral change in the hearts of individuals, trying to save us from ourselves not God. Jesus on the Cross reveals a loving God, a forgiving God, a God willing to suffer with us in a free world where life sucks sometimes and isn’t fair.

Being the person you want to be deep down is worth the journey. 

A legacy of treating others like you want to be treated is worth living! It isn’t useless to go the extra mile in relationships or to forgive others than to exact revenge. A loving God if exists surely desires to empower us to consider unselfish love in relationships. It was this message Jesus was willing to die, rather than save Himself, in hopes to inspire seeking God’s help in following Jesus’ footsteps through expressions of radical love. Changes of the heart are for our own good and for the world. I believe there is something at the end of death but I live the life I do because I got nothing to lose except selfishness and a lousy legacy. A godly life lived is not in vain!

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by Jim Gordon

We human beings all have opinions and personal views on how we think we and others should live. Christian people also have opinions and views plus the added interpretations of the bible.

Sad thing is that often times we want to force our views on others and expect them to see things the same way. When they do not do that, things can get quite ugly sometimes.

After a few days of watching my father-in-law deteriorate in his health, seeing him in the hospital and then going to rehab for a couple weeks, it really makes you think about life.

When your health is not good you seem to lose your thoughts about differences of opinions. You forget about who is right or wrong. You do not seem to think as much about standing your ground and trying to force your views on others.

He has nurses and aides who are male and female, black and white, LGBTQ and straight, along with other nationality backgrounds and you know what, it does not make any difference to him. These are normal people doing their job. He depends on them and they take care of him.

Why is it we human beings cannot act more like this every day, not just when something is going wrong with our health. People are people and there is no reason to be treating anyone with judgment, condemnation and hatred.

It seems many christian people feel it is our duty to point out the mistakes of others. We are to act on behalf of the Holy Spirit by convicting people who we think are sinning. Often what christian people view as sins are not sins at all, but an incorrect interpretation of bible verses that had different meanings and written to different people. Even when people are doing something that is sinful, it is not our job to take a self-righteous stand and convict them. We all have been there and done something that is sinful.

That fact is that no matter what, we are all loved by God. As christians we are only told to love God and love one another. People are free to live as they see is right. Any conviction comes from the Holy Spirit, not the people of God. We are only called to love.

Many will say that loving people will mean we sometimes have to show tough love. We have to point out their mistakes or they will go on sinning and their blood will be upon our hands. Again, the bible says the Spirit will draw people to God. We are not responsible for drawing people to God or changing their views of what is right or wrong. We are to love people, unconditionally just as God loves us.

How many people are drawn to God out of the hateful and condemning ways many people use to try and guilt them into coming to God? How many people are drawn because of fear? A few maybe, but is coming to God out of fear really love? Love draws and God says to love even your enemies.

Do not wait until some terrible event gets your mind off of your opinions and your interpretations. Follow the example of Jesus every day of your life by loving God and loving people.

You do not have to agree with everyone, none of us ever will anyway. Yet live your life doing what you feel God is leading you to do. Allow others the same freedom. Love them with godly love. God is able to draw people and change them in the areas that need changing. Even when the change does not happen, they are still loved by God and they should still be loved by us.

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by Jim Gordon

It is easy to see that people can quickly take a stand on one side or the other of an issue to which they feel strongly.

Many are pro-life and anti-abortion; pro-American and anti-refugee; pro-Christian and anti-Muslim; pro-marriage and anti-LGBTQ, and on and on it goes. Whichever side is taken it can often be very intense.

We all have a right to our opinion and to express our opinion. Yet I do not feel we have the right to express our opinions with judgment, condemnation and hatred.

Many groups of people have suffered judgment and condemnation from those of the Christian belief. It is sad that some who claim to follow the example of Jesus can be so hateful towards people they think are doing life wrong.

My personal belief is that Jesus said to love God and love one another. He never told us to condemn and hate people. Even when we disagree on the topics, we are still to be respectful and loving to everyone.

Love, kindness, respect and accepting people for who they are is the way of Jesus. He never condemned, never hated, never sought revenge. Sure, he often said go and sin no more, yet he never made the person feel terrible and he never followed up making sure that person actually did not sin again.

I feel Jesus said to sin no more because he knew what the effects of sin were on the person. He did not want them to go through the guilt and shame, but wanted them to be free to share his love with others.

Today there are many topics on which people take sides. Many that stir people up to do some very unkind and unloving things. As followers of Jesus we are to go a different route. We are to show his love and acceptance to everyone. We do not need to point out what we feel are sins of others. Not everything is a sin just because some people think it is. God can work in the life of each person to deal with what needs done without us throwing in our two cents. We are only told to love God and love people.

So, go ahead and take a stand on the issues that are important to you. Vote for who you feel will do the best job and give equal rights and fair treatment to all people. Yet do these things with kindness and respect for those who see things differently. Show the love of God to everyone no matter if you agree or not. Love is the way of God and it is to be the way of those who are followers of God.

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by Jim Gordon

Does it not seem strange that in the christian church world we are told we are to love others, yet when we come to a difference of opinion or a change in views in our beliefs, christians can be the first to throw a stone?

We hear about fairly well-known individuals within the church system say they have changed their views and no longer accept some of the teachings they grew up with in the church. They are not necessarily saying they are walking away from God but they are walking away from many things they have been told about God they no longer accept.

When this happens, usually other christians are the first to judge and condemn these individuals rather than try to accept them and find out exactly what is going on. Their first thought is they are leaving their complete belief and faith in God.

Many times, this is not what the person is saying anyway. Leaving religious teachings of the church is not leaving God. In fact, many times leaving some of these teachings behind is just the beginning of a deeper walk with God.

I grew up in the traditional church setting and I had many good times there. I met a lot of nice people and learned many things about God. The thing is the church as we know it was never what God intended. Church is not a place or an organization, it is the people who love God and love, support and encourage one another.

The church today seems more like a corporation with the CEO and board of directors. I know there are a lot of good people within the church system. They love God and want to live their life for him. Yet for my wife and I, we became disenchanted with the religious system and felt there was a better way for us to live for God, which was outside the walls of religion and the human-led system of church each week.

We felt that since the Spirit lives within us there is no need for a middle-man (pastor) to lead and teach us. If the Spirit of God actually lives within us, why do we so often depend on a human being to lead and teach us?

I certainly do not want to make anyone feel bad if they are still a part of the institutional church. They are like I used to be and feel that was the best way to show love for God and learn about God. I would not tell anyone they should leave the system, although for my wife and I we certainly do believe it was the best thing for us.

Whether you are in the church system, questioning the church system or have left it, the main focus should be to love God and love one another. Doing so fulfills all the law and the prophets (as Matthew 22:35-40 explains). Of course, we know that the law no longer needs to be fulfilled but at the time Jesus taught this he was living under the law. Now that grace has been applied, we no longer live by the law but by love.

Leaving the institutional church or changing and deconstructing your religious views and interpretations do not mean you are leaving God. Rather than jump on board with those who judge and condemn, take a little bit and find out more about what is going on. Then remember we are all at a different place on the path as we follow Jesus. Pray for one another, encourage and support one another but do not beat one another up as we each try to follow Jesus as we feel led.

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by Jim Gordon

It seems we hear a lot about change and becoming a better person in the way we live and believe. We often hear from some christian people about judgment and condemnation of others because they do not live the way they think the bible says.

I think it is time we accept people for who they are beginning with ourselves. We need to remember that we are all made in the image of God. The bible says God saw all that he had made and it was good!

BeYourself for 3-13-19

Rather than judge someone and tell them they need to change, why not do what Jesus said to do. Love God and love one another. We do not always agree but it is not up to us to tell people what they need to do or how they should live. Accept one another for who they are.

Rather than worry about what everyone else thinks just be yourself, accept yourself. Do not let anyone say you do not matter or make you feel like you need to be someone you are not.

You are not a mistake. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. God created you and loves you just as you are.

Of course, we all want to better ourselves in this life but as far as the real you, whether gay or straight, white or black, male or female we are unconditionally loved and accepted by God.

There are a good many of his followers out there that feel the same way. Ignore those who judge and condemn, they will only bring you down. Move on and seek out those who will love you with the unconditional love of God and who will accept you just as you are.

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