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By Mike Edwards

We don’t know all the factors as to why some are inclined to believe and desire a relationship with their Creator and others aren’t. Believing in or not believing in God are both rational beliefs. The reasons many leave their faith in God may be why many don’t pursue God initially though desiring a relationship. I will end by suggesting advantages of a relationship with God based on experience.

First, let’s debunk the myth that those who don’t believe in God are simply rebellious.

The first chapter of Romans in the Bible is used to suggest all who don’t believe in God are suppressing what they know to be true. Actually, the writer refers to those who don’t doubt but ignore God and morality to justify their evil ways. Let’s not accuse those who believe in a God as needing a crutch or accuse those who question the reality of an invisible God as being wicked and ignorant of their feelings. If wrong to doubt God exists, Christians sin if doubt God in tough times.

A child sexually abuse by their father may struggle to accept a God betrayed as our Father in Heaven. Does God really judge them? Some are open or desperately want to believe in God but can’t get their head around why a loving God doesn’t intervene more with so much evil in the world. Does God really judge them? Why would a gay person believe in a God who supposedly condemn them for sexuality choices they no more choose than straights.

We are better off without God if the Bible is declared infallible and not questioned.

Christians according to the Bible condemn same-sex relationships, women are denied equal roles as men, and it is said only Christians go to heaven so all other religions can go to Hell. The idea of an infallible Book often leads to inferring interpretations are infallible. Literature, including the Bible, requires interpretation. Every view above is debated among biblical scholars who respect Scriptures. Don’t be dogmatic! God can speak for themselves to individuals. Now, if you think it is right to behead people because they don’t share your personal beliefs about God, you are wrong!

We may be better off without God if God declared a mysterious, moral hypocrite.

Some declare God mysterious when their interpretation of the Bible makes God appear immoral, but how can we have a relationship with a God we can’t understand with the brain God gave us? Is evil good sometimes? The Bible assumes we can understand God when challenging us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48). It is only natural to think that God and human perfect love are the same. Human love suggests a perfect God is not a sexist, homophobe, hellish sadist, hothead, egomaniac. A Creator surely love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. 

We may be better off without God if declared a prayer genie.

Praying doesn’t make God more caring. God is already doing all they can in a free world. Pretending God can simply heal 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? God is tireless in working through individual lives to change the world. 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. God, like parents, had a choice – to not create or create knowing suffering was a possibility in the pursuit of intimacy. Divine love limits divine power.

We maybe be better off without God if declared God causes or allows evil.

The problem of evil and suffering is a main reason people indicate they don’t believe in God. If evil is some grand scheme God can control or allows, why does the Bible say God hates evil so much? When we say God allows evil, it gives the impression God stands by when God could stop evil. A God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. God can only stop evil with the help of others or not create freedom!

It doesn’t help when God-followers have hidden agendas in relationships.

I confess I use to think God wanted me to change people’s beliefs to avoid hell and go to heaven. Then, I discovered the traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist in the Bible. A loving God surely only wishes we consider the possibility of a loving God who desires to help in our journey of becoming the person deep down we want to become. God simply encourages loving others as yourself since a self-centered life hurts yourself and others. True friends don’t seek to change one’s beliefs but to openly encourage one another in a life that leads to true freedom. 

When are we better off with God?

  • If a Creator exists they may know a thing or two about life and purpose for living
  • Life sometimes sucks and suffering is inevitable in a world where people have the freedom to bring joy or cause pain. A Creator can help navigate through such a world where we often face undeserved suffering. Bottom line – I need a companion
  • I am not the man I want to be. I have desires and thoughts that I know are wrong. I need guidance and encouragement in refusing them and knowing they are not in my best interests

Parents and friends often don’t love us for who we are but what they want us to be. God can often fill a void that humans can’t. Do you want to know God better? Find someone who seems to have an open relationship with their Creator and ask for help. If they want to give a lot of advice and act like they speak for God all the time – run! Challenge God to help you find answers to your questions. Seek a rational view of God rather than some pie in the sky God.

 

 

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By Mike Edwards

The problem of evil is a main reason people indicate they don’t believe in God. How we think God and suffering co-exist in the midst of personal suffering can cause us to wonder if God truly exist. I suggest HERE how we can decide what God is really like. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others? 

Why is freedom so important?  

The majority of evil results from the freedom to be kind or cruel toward others. It seems God creating freedom necessitates one being able to do as much harm as they can do good. There is not some divine or “greater purpose” in the suffering of innocent people. But authenticity, the highest good in relationships, is impossible without freedom. Not even an almighty God can force true love. God, like parents, had a choice – to not create or to create knowing suffering was a possibility in the pursuit of intimacy. Divine love limits divine power.

God can’t!!!

Saying God can’t may seem sacrilegious, but a God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. Are you dissatisfied with conventional answers such as: “It’s all part of God’s plan;” “God wants to make you stronger;” “God’s ways are not our ways;” “You didn’t have enough faith;” “Everything happens for a reason” (Thomas Oord, God Can’t: How to Believe in God and Love after Tragedy, Abuse, and Other Evils, p.11). If evil is some grand scheme God can control, why does the Bible say God hates evil so much? 

God doesn’t cause or allow evil!  

Most agree God doesn’t cause evil but some say God allows evil to bring about a greater good. Oord reminds us greater good doesn’t always come about. A surgeon may have to break open your chest to save your life, but what purpose is served from rape, torture, betrayal, murder, deception, corruption, incest, and genocide as if part of some good plan? From this twisted perspective, evil is good! When we say God allows, it gives the impression God stands by when God could stop evil. No one respects those who stand by in the name of freedom while individual rights are being violated. God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. God can only stop evil with the help of others so to not violate freedom. Or not create freedom! 

What about miracles if God can’t supposedly control?  

It may be easier to explain God’s uncontrolling nature if miracles could be refuted. Miracles happen as many attest, but miracles don’t happen because people grovel at the feet of an arbitrary God who has to be begged to love more. A good God surely is always working to heal, but so many biological and environmental factors are involved. Maybe it is not a stretch to say God can’t control human freedom as well as non-human factors. I am convinced God will intervene by all means when circumstances allow. Miracles can happen when God’s uncontrolling love aligns with countless factors known and not known.

It matters if God supposedly knows the future.

A young woman may ask God for wisdom in marrying their partner. All think it is a match made in heaven, but the husband becomes abusive and the children suffer. What kind of God doesn’t warn if God knew this was going to happen? Evil is the result of current and unknown future human free decisions. Not even an all-powerful God can create and guarantee life without death, violence, suffering, and struggle and yet there be free will necessary for genuine relationships. 

God is not a magic prayer genie! 

A good God surely doesn’t cause or want us to suffer. Praying doesn’t make God more caring. God is already doing all they can in a free world. Jesus’ prayer to avoid the Cross may be the best model in times of suffering. Jesus asked God to intervene but God if you are unable please stay close to me. Pretending God can simply heal without accounting for freedom can makes one’s suffering worse. Did I not pray enough? Did I not beg enough? Did I not behave enough or have the right attitude? It isn’t that we didn’t pray enough with the right words so God will answer. 

Is God a mystery and we can’t understand evil and suffering?

Some appeal to mystery by declaring God ways are not our ways to rationalize their interpretation of the Bible, but how can we have a relationship with a God we can’t understand with the brain God gave us? How we are supposed to know and love like God if God is mysterious? The Bible says to be perfect like God, but we can’t know what this means if we can’t know what perfect love is. God’s love surely is like perfect human love. If God calls favoritism evil but plays favorites, this plainly makes a supposedly loving God evil.

Why did God even create?

God knew the risks of freedom as do human parents. Are we wrong to bring children into a world hoping they will want to reciprocate our love but knowing our children could cause suffering or suffer at the hands of others? Suffering is avoidable only if God had not created or allowed freedom. Few argue that no freedom is better than freedom. God and parents risk creating which can lead to great joy or great pain. One is not possible without the other.

What is God doing?

God is tireless in working through individual lives to change the world. Hitler may have been stopped if others had gotten involved in his life as a child or when plotting his evils early on. Perhaps the only way to defeat evil in us, other than destroying at the first hint, is for us to persevere and overcome evil. Also, suffering can enable us to be of use to others in a world where suffering is inevitable if any freedom is present. Martin Luther King’s suffering moved the scales from the eyes of many how they tolerated bigotry.

 

MORE POSTS IN SERIES: I DOUBT GOD IS ……

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

Why I Doubt God Expects Every Word Of The Bible To Be Viewed As Inspired

Why I Doubt God Is An End-Of-The-World Doomsayer

Why I Doubt God Is An Angry Egomaniac

Why I Doubt God Is A “Hidden Agenda” Proselytizer

Why I Doubt the god of Extremists Or Terrorists

Why I Doubt God Is A Prayer Genie

 

 

 

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By Mike Edwards

Beliefs about God can lead to many tuning out God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. I suggest HERE how we can decide what God is really like. One’s interpretation of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others?

God can’t be a controlling lover.  

Controlling love is an oxymoron. Besides, not even an all-powerful God can give us free will and not give us free will at the same time. Genuine freedom must involve the right to do as much harm in proportion to how much good one can do. It isn’t that God has the power to do something and doesn’t. It’s that God can’t. God can’t control evil here on earth if God respects freedom. 

Is God to blame for suffering?  

A good God surely doesn’t cause or want us to suffer. Praying doesn’t make God more caring. God is already doing all they can in a free world. Jesus’ prayer to avoid the Cross may be the best model in times of suffering. Jesus asked God to intervene but God if you are unable please stay close to me. Pretending God can simply heal without accounting for freedom can makes one’s suffering worse. Why did God heal them and not me? Did I not pray enough? Did I not beg enough? Did I not behave enough or have the right attitude? It isn’t that we didn’t pray enough with the right words and behaviors so God will answer. God is already doing all God can.

Why bother to even pray then?  

Maybe prayer is more talking and sharing with God then asking for things and for God to override freedom. Maybe prayer is meant to help us not feel alone in a chaotic world. Prayer is more talking to gain support than manipulating for gain. God is always available to talk about anything on our heart, but we best leave running the universe to a loving God who has the interest of all in mind. 

Don’t miracles prove God can control what God wants?

One must admit miracles aren’t that frequent. The Old Testament reveals amazing miracles don’t always lead to inspired living. Jesus’ miracles turned heads but Jesus’ suffering turned hearts of billions of followers. We can pray for others but God is already doing all they can. Are we? Miracles can happen as many can attest to, but miracles don’t happen because people grovel at the feet of an arbitrary God who has to be begged to love more. Miracles happen when God’s uncontrolling love aligns with countless factors known and not known.

Prayer is not a substitute for action.

It is easier sometimes to pray for someone than take supportive actions which is the most common way that God answers prayers. Rather than praying your friend’s spouse stop drinking, which is harming their family, see if your friend would rather you say something to their spouse. 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.

The Bible says you can ask for anything you want in God’s name! 

Our interpretations much account for what a loving, uncontrolling God can do. Passages such as Mathew 7:7 are lifted out of context 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 give good gifts. First-century readers didn’t assume this was a blank check for any request. The Apostle Paul expects followers would face persecution for their beliefs (2 Tim. 3:12), thus God obviously is not a blank check.

How can we pray?

We might 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. Maybe prayer is to motivate us to be more loving like God toward others. God is not a Genie in a bottle who can singlehandedly all by themselves make things instantly happen. God is surely doing all they can to influence for good and seeks our help to change the world for good.

See Mark Karris, Divine Echoes: Reconciling Prayer With the Uncontrolling Love Of God

 MORE POSTS IN SERIES: I DOUBT GOD REALLY ……

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

Why I Doubt God Expects Every Word Of The Bible To Be Viewed As Inspired

Why I Doubt God Is An End-Of-The-World Doomsayer

Why I Doubt God Is An Angry Egomaniac

Why I Doubt God Is A “Hidden Agenda” Proselytizer

Why I Doubt the god of Extremists Or Terrorists

 

 

 

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by Jim Gordon

I have noticed a very common saying recently in regard to the violence and killings that have made the headlines. It is heard on TV, online and in the newspapers. The saying is ‘our thoughts and prayers are with you’.

It actually sounds really nice and many times it is the only thing people can come up with when they do not know what else to say.

Unfortunately, it only sounds good and does nothing to help make a difference or to cause change.

Thoughts and Prayers WordPress

So often people say this because they do not know what else to do. I certainly believe in prayer to ask God for peace and comfort for the people involved. I also believe in prayer seeking guidance from God for things to do that will help make a change.

Yet many people use this saying because they do not think they are able to do anything to make a change, and often they do not want to make the effort to make changes. So, they make themselves feel better by saying our thoughts and prayers are with you.

In James 2:16 we have a similar situation when people would say “go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet they did not give what was necessary for their body, and what use was that? This falls right in line with James 2:26 which says, for just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Obviously good works do not earn our salvation, but good works will be a result of our salvation. To put it another way we can say that love without works is dead. Saying you love someone but doing nothing to show that love is not real love.

Using good sounding words usually only makes the one saying it feel better. But putting action to our words can make a difference and truly show love and concern to those who are hurting.

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Most of us were taught to pray when we were just little kids. We were taught that God is up in heaven watching and listening, and we should pray to him every day.

As we got older, we found out that praying was actually talking to God. We were to take our praises, our needs and our concerns and tell God about them. After we did that, we should then read our bibles, because that was the way God talked back to us. I do believe he speaks through the writings of the bible by the Spirit, but I don’t think this is the only way he speaks. Certainly it is always by the Spirit no matter what he uses to communicate.

We were told to pray without ceasing, to pray with the correct style and order, and to always end our prayer with ‘in Jesus name’. If we didn’t, our prayers may not get through to God.

Why is it, at least for me, I always have a weird feeling if I don’t end my prayer with ‘in Jesus name’? Do we really need to add this phrase to the end of our talk with our Father? I know it’s not really necessary, but a lot of us always add that at the end of our prayers like it makes everything we just said official. I feel that praying in Jesus name really means that we pray in the power and authority that Jesus gave us under the New Covenant. It really isn’t a phrase that needs to be said, but an attitude and privilege we have through him.

We also have this concept that God is way up in heaven, and our prayers may not get through right away. Have you even been told that demons can interrupt our prayers and hold them up as they pass up to heaven? I always used that when I didn’t get an answer when I thought I should.

The thought of praying without ceasing always gave me a problem too. After all, how could I pray when driving a car if I had to have my eyes closed? Obviously, we don’t have to close our eyes, but that is one of those things we were taught when young, bow your head, close your eyes and fold your hands. Praying isn’t about any of those things.

I think praying without ceasing is an attitude. Since God lives within us, everything we do, everywhere we go, he is with us. He is involved in our thoughts, and our interactions with others. He loves us and is interested in every part of our lives. So, in that way of thinking, since prayer is talking with God and he lives within us, we can pray without ceasing. We can talk with him any time, any place, in any position and in any style. There really isn’t a right and wrong way to talk with our Father, who loves us and wants to communicate with us.

Sometimes I think we make prayer to religious. It has to be done a certain way, in a certain order and in the right attitude. We need to have ourselves prepared and ‘cleaned up’ to come into God’s presence.

What happened to the fact that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, that we are one with God, that the Father and Son have come and made their home in us? The way I see it, there is nothing that can hinder us talking with God (not even taking prayer out of schools). He is right here within us, there is no need to worry about our prayers getting interrupted.

I have been thinking, if prayer is talking to God, it really doesn’t have to be in a certain order or style. It doesn’t have to be when we are feeling holy, it is a daily talk with our Father, no matter what our mood. Our earthly fathers didn’t required we come to them at a set time, or in a set place, or speak to them in a specific way, so why would we expect our heavenly Father to require all these things?

Talking to God

We can be ourselves, we can just talk, question, complain, praise, request, and know that God is listening and concerned. We aren’t going to upset him with our bad attitude, poor choice of words or even our questions. After all, he loves us and accepts us just as we are.

So, I’m finding that prayer is not a religious act, but a daily attitude, talking and communicating with God our Father who lives within us. And since the Spirit lives within us, we will hear and know his voice which comes from within. It is the Spirit that speaks and teaches us, no matter what method he uses to do so.

I think it all boils down to this, God wants to communicate with us. I’m not sure there is really a right or wrong way to talk with Him. If we are formal, informal, if we feel good or bad, holy or not, if we say ‘in Jesus name’ or not, God loves us and wants us to talk with Him all the time.

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It’s hard accepting the fact that God lives within us. We’ve been taught to live our lives trying to follow the commandments and do good things, and one day we will go to heaven and live with God face to face. We have an image of God sitting on a throne way up in heaven, and here we are, far, far away down on earth.

We talk about going to a meeting and the Spirit showing up, or being at a specific place because God is there. We pray and talk with God, yet we wonder if our prayers are even getting to Him.

The more I read, I’m finding that we really have the whole thing backwards.

The Old Covenant has been fulfilled in Christ and we are living under a New Covenant. We no longer have to try to be good enough. The law was a tutor that led us to Christ, but now that Christ has come, we no longer need a tutor. We are free from the law, and children of God through the gift of his grace.

Jesus came to live among us and show us the love of God. When Jesus left, he said he would send us the Spirit. God has now come to live within us. Jesus said the kingdom of God is within you. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we have the mind of Christ. Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would be one with God, just as he and the Father are one.

Sounds to me that we are missing the main point. We do not have to wait to die and go to heaven to enjoy kingdom living. We do not have to wait to be united with the Father. We no longer need to look to a human guide, teacher or preacher. We have the living, powerful, perfect Word of God living inside us, the Spirit of Jesus.

There is nothing wrong with listening to others, getting their thoughts and ideas, and being encouraged by other believers, but we do not need to rely on other humans. We have the Spirit within us, teaching us and guiding us in the way he has for us.

We do not have to look up in the sky to some far-away place and wonder if God is listening. We can turn our thoughts inward and realize the Spirit is right there within us, listening, loving us and ready to teach us as we begin to hear his voice from within.

We are all at different stages along the path we walk with him, and we need to remember none of us have it all figured out. We so often want to fight and argue from the understanding we currently have without realizing that we have not reached completion. There is more the Spirit wants to teach us as we become ready to accept it.

For my wife and me, we have changed a lot over the past few years, but we realize we have not come to perfection. We will change over the few next years also. So why argue over doctrine, interpretations and beliefs, as if we had it all figured out and everyone else is wrong. We all have a lot more to learn as we walk with the Spirit each day.

We should come to accept each other where we are currently, realizing what we know and believe today will more likely be different a little further down the road. We can love each other, learn from one another and accept each other as we are, just like Jesus loves and accepts us just as we are.

We should be looking deep within ourselves, listening for the voice and guidance of the Spirit, rather than putting all hope in others, and to those we think are more spiritual because they have been trained, educated and paid to do so. Remember, we are all kings and priests and have the same Spirit within us. Each of us are equal and important parts of the body, with Christ as the head. His Church is not a building, not a denomination, but a people.

This is not saying we are all God, but the Spirit lives within us and we are one with our Father. It would do us all good to start focusing on this fact rather than what we have been taught in the past, that being one with God is a future event after we die. Kingdom living is now. Listening to the Spirit, being taught by him and living day by day in communion with the Father is a reality that we all need to realize.

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In the Old Testament, people were always going to the high priest to get their requests made known to God. There was always a mediator because the common person was not allowed access to the Father.

When Jesus came and died, the veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. This was God doing away with the barrier and giving access to all people to have direct communication with Him.

To many times today, we want to stay under the Old Testament law and way of life. We want to run to the board of elders or the pastor and ask them to pray for us. No man is to be our head, only Christ.

We seem to forget that we don’t need the board of elders or the pastor. God our Father has provided direct access to Himself that we might come before Him and make our requests known. Christ is the head of His Church, which is made up of us living stones. We are the Church and through the work of Christ, we have direct access to the Father.

I don’t understand why so many people want to look to another person, and seemingly set them up on a higher level than the rest of us. There are elders in the body of Christ, but they are there as more experienced, longer-in-the-faith people to help and encourage us, not to take authority. Obviously we are to pray for one another and support one another, but we don’t look up to any person as having more authority or more power to go to God for us.

Christ has given us a great privilege to be able to go directly to the Father. Let’s not miss the opportunity by looking more to man than to our Father.

Let’s no longer take it to the board in prayer, but take it to the Lord in prayer.

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