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By Mike Edwards

I’m no expert but one who is anxious for others to avoid my failures. I can assure you my marriage hasn’t lasted 40 years so far as of today because I am some saint. Divorce can happen and doesn’t doom one as a failure for life. Relationships aren’t that complicated, just hard. Many marriages can succeed when both partners adhere to a few essential attitudes and actions to better relate. I am going to keep this less than a five-minute read in hopes more read provoking ideas if struggling. Success isn’t an exact path. We all have a chance if strive to treat our partner like a best friend!

The Right Attitude – Accepting Differences 

Good luck finding a partner that always agree. Marriage is about living happily incompatible. There are no perfect matches. Relationships often start off well because reality hasn’t set in – sharing closets, bathrooms, in-laws, children, etc. You still have in common why you began the relationship, but now you have to work out your differences. Other friendships don’t have the 24/7 challenges. Naively, I assumed in the beginning I would be happily married 100% of the time. Now, I realize being pleased 75% of the time is a pretty good marriage. Strive to treat your partner like you want to be treated when not agreeing. Marriage isn’t agreeing but learning to disagree. 

The Right Actions – Fighting Fair 

After accepting we don’t have a right to expect everything we desire, we still have to solve such differences to live peacefully together. When handling differences in other relationships it usually is out in public with others around eyeballing your actions. In a 24/7 relationship differences can happen more in private. There is less accountability to behave. Kids, we know the rules in solving differences – keep your hands to yourself, don’t raise your voice, stop interrupting, etc. When such rules are violated, give each other permission to stop and restart when acting more civilly. Couples who say they are no longer in love have stopped treating each other in loving ways. Happy couples expect problems and solve differences in a positive manner so solutions can be discovered. 

Identify A Specific Plan And Persist 

As you strive for the right attitude and actions – develop specific steps each can take, evaluate success in a time limited fashion, and do it all over again. Keep trying until finding what works. Judge the relationship not on feelings that depend on circumstance but judge the relationship on specific actions that can bring about desired feelings.  Couples often give up too soon because they attempt a “hit and miss” approach to their problems. Couples often argue, “they have tried everything.” Develop your own list of habits such as below:

  • During conflict both ideally ask “what can I do differently” not “why can’t you”
  • Assume good will of you partner unless you married the devil
  • Focus on solutions than problems
  • Persist unless one partner is being abusive
  • Run from temptations that can set you up for failure
  • Get third party help after remaining stuck
  • Try doing what you would tell your friend if they asked for advise
  • Identify 2 or 1 thing you wish each would do differently once a day that is observable and you can acknowledge genuine appreciation when it happens
  • Focus on being the right person rather than your partner
  • Happy couples’ ratio of encouraging than criticizing is at least 6:1

Spiritual help can be invaluable in marriage

Maybe you are just a good person without any help. Personally, I need help being the best version of myself for the sake of my partner. I need to be willing to say sorry. I need to recognize I am being selfish. I need to be willing to forgive when my partner takes responsibility for their actions. Great marriages aren’t about being good enough or not as bad as other partners. The best goal of marriage or any relationship is aiming for perfection. My view of God inspires me to pursue perfection in my relationships without being paralyzed by guilt when failing. I have the “want to” to be perfect. I believe that motivation comes from God!

John and Julie Gottman, who have researched marriage relationships for years to identify important factors that lead to success, state something so true: “Every marriage has perpetual issues – conflicts based on personality differences or lifestyle differences that never go away. Common examples include how much intimacy there should be in a marriage, as well as disagreements over money and household chores. But as longtime marriage therapists, we’ve found that partners can live peacefully with perpetual issues as long as they talk about them in a open, productive way.” 

How The Heck Do You Have A Good Marriage?

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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

Partnering With God  is a book full of essays that explores possibilities that God desires an open friendship with us all, the same kind of relationship that adult children dream of having with their parents. I will share my essay in time. See two of the essays below that can lead to the kind of relationship with God you have always dreamed of but maybe never heard about:

“God desires a special form of partnership with us; namely, a friendship.” – Wm. Curtis Holtzen, “Friends with Benefits” 

“A tragic teen suicide became a source of radical repentance and new life for a church in Manchester, England.” – Nicholas Bundock, “A Long Obedience in the Wrong Direction”

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

I am close to my grown kids and still living by the way, but they don’t always seek out in-person advice. But are we always knocking down doors to get in-person advice about life decisions? Lasting convictions often are best caught not taught. We all seem to value space. The road traveled of learning and reflecting in our own time, without any direct pressure, may best lead to lasting convictions. Influence, not direct communication, may often be the preferred and best megaphone. 

Does God have to be visible to influence? 

It is true God is never visibly present in our lives, but then neither are our parents when they pass away. If we were close to our parents, we still benefit from their wisdom by their influence. Could it 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 and not able to relate to as much? God’s or a parent’s presence or voice doesn’t always have to be visible or audible to be the most powerful. The example a parent sets, and our mental image of God, can be a guiding force.

God may communicate more than given credit for.

Moral knowledge isn’t hidden. Universal moral outrage over murder, lying, stealing, etc. and an inborn desire to treat others like we want to be treated hints of a Creator’s influence through our moral intuitions. Criminals don’t defend but deny their actions. It is only natural to think a Creator would love us in the same way we wished to be loved by our parents. God has revealed themselves. God’s image is a perfect, loving Parent!

We know that murder or adultery is wrong. What about less obvious decisions? God can’t always give us answers to life’s complications even if visibly present. Should we go through with divorce or give our partner another chance? Is our partner’s promise to change and asking for forgiveness one more time sincere or not? Many issues don’t have clear answers but involve making the wisest decision we know at the time. We or God can’t peer into the future to know how things turn out.

God, even if in person, can’t advise about future outcomes. 

It is natural to think an all-knowing, power God has special insights into future outcomes to avoid problems. To say God knows the future suggests a predetermined future making freedom nonsensical. 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 path at the time based on past experiences, current circumstances, and future aspirations. It turns out God, as loving parents, is uncontrolling.  

Is it God’s fault the Bible isn’t clearer?

Interpretation is still required even if God dictated the Bible. It is often said we best know God according to “biblical truths.” The truth is contrary biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here.   What we do with the communication we have, then lack of communication, may be the bigger challenge. Open discussions can steer us away from demanding “supposed truths.” Jesus had a 24-7 relationship with twelve men, yet they struggled to believe His words in person. Jesus’ influence seemed greater after He left this world.

God may speak to us in non-dramatic ways out of love!

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 interest, they may resent or rebel against coercion and never turn back. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow for heartfelt choices. God’s interference and presence might prevent a superior world from emerging as a result of limiting the moral development and improvement of free creatures to make independent choices. Finally, relationships that require more faith and trust due to the unknown may reach great heights. Is our love in relationships greater when we have to trust than know for certain what the future holds together?  

 

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 is often implied Jesus’ mission was to get others to confess certain beliefs to avoid hell and enter heaven. But Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but a life worth living here on earth. See here.  When Jesus interacted with a woman caught in adultery, He first stopped the crowd’s stoning attempts. Then, Jesus simply told the woman “go now, and leave your life of sin” (John 8). Good advice! Jesus didn’t advise her what to believe in case He never saw her again.    

Jesus stressed loving God and neighbors the most important commandments (Mt 22:37-40).

My children love me best by loving others to the fullest. A perfect, loving God surely desires the same of their creations. Loving God is loving others to the fullest. How do we love others? Who doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships – treat others as you wish to be treated? Turns out God only desires for us what we deep down desire from ourselves. A loving parent or God openly discusses beliefs to seek what leads to an individual’s own good and the world’s good.

Does God eventually require allegiance?

I don’t see how a God who creates freedom requires obedience. Evil in the world clearly reveals God doesn’t force compliance, or there wouldn’t be so much horrific evil in this world. God obviously understands what we humans know – freedom is necessary for authenticity. Not even God can force true love. Is there a day of reckoning for rejecting God here on earth? It is suspect God stops forgiving before or after death. One’s faith often depends what land or family born into. It is suspect God is a God of chance. Careful! Character developed here on earth may carry over.

Did the main writer of the NT demand certain beliefs?

The Apostle Paul certainly sought to convince others about Jesus. I would too if I had a vision of Jesus after he died (Acts 9), and knew eyewitnesses that had seen Jesus alive after dying on the Cross. Two thousand years later, we may have different discussions. Paul debated his beliefs with others who seemed open, though he didn’t force traditions that may have been important to him (Rm 14). In marriage Paul didn’t advise a believer to impose their beliefs on an unbeliever but let them go (I Cor. 7:15). Believers shouldn’t insist non-believers share their beliefs.     

How do we share with others about God and our relationship?

Those who feel loved, encouraged, and inspired in their relationship with God naturally want others to experience such a relationship. I enjoy discussing what a loving God may truly be like as much as one may want to discuss a great book they read. I am not suggesting such conversations be forced or that conversations have any hidden agenda to convert one to your beliefs. If you believe God desires to influence all for good, you will trust God to make such discussions natural.

One doesn’t have to be perfect to talk about God, but it is reasonable to expect those who talk about God to act godly.  I admit God conversations seldom happen in my life. Often others rightly smell hidden agendas to proselytize because of their past experiences. Such conversations are seldom successful if forced. It is up to God rather than us to inspire others to seek ways to be a more loving, caring person. One has to hope the life we live is enough for others to consider discussions about God when they have such an interest or need.  

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

When my parents, partner, or friends believe in me, respect me, hope or trust in me – I am more inspired. Does God love us in the same way? We all struggle to be the person we desire to be deep down. Many struggle with habits that they regret each time they break a promise. God surely knows such regrets. Loving parents never give up on their child becoming what they know them to be like. Is God any less loving?

Why would an all-powerful God give us freedom?   

Freedom in relationships is necessary for true love. God obviously created us with freedom because of all the evil in the world contrary to God’s desires. Controlling behaviors never lead to true intimacy desired in relationships. The truth is parents or God are dependent on others to have genuine relationships. God puts their hopes and trust in us as do loving uncontrolling parents.

God can’t know or control the future and truly love!                                      

If the future is knowable and not open, I can’t act otherwise. God controlling the future is no different than parents dictating to their older children what career or partner they must pursue. God must be uncontrolling or God is uncaring. God must have faith and be vulnerable just as our parents when having us. The Bible agrees God doesn’t know the future. God regrets (I Sam. 15:10-11); God relents (Jonah 3:10); God is surprised (Is. 5); God changes their mind (Jer. 18:8-10).

How dare you compare God’s love to human love!

We may not always know what perfect love entails but intuitively we know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly or am I loving others like our Creator loves. A Creator surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others Even the Bible suggests God’s love is the same as perfect human love: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48); be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1); be merciful like God (Lk. 6:36). God is often claimed a mystery because one’s interpretation of Scriptures makes God seem evil. Such interpreters sense intuitively God and perfect human love are the same.

God is love but what does that mean? 

An unloving God isn’t worth believing in. God’s love surely is the same as supreme parents – other-directed not self-consumed. Love gets excited when we do well and make a difference in the lives of others. Love anticipates, hopes for our success, believes in us. God is pulling for me, even when failing, because I do the same for my children. We doubt God but God still loves. God may worry but still hopes. God either believes in, hopes for us, builds us up, or doesn’t love us at all.

We matter to God!

We commit to relationships not knowing how they will turn out. God too! If you claim to love someone, you suffer when things don’t turn out as you hoped. God too! Even if you don’t believe Jesus was really divine and human, many believe Jesus may have been the most perfect person in the world like God. Jesus trusted, hoped, and had faith in others. We may feel hopeless at times but not God. God believes in and loves you the same way you want to be loved by your parents!

Resource and must read: Wm. Curtis Holtzen, The God Who Trust: A Relational Theology Of Divine Faith, Hope, and Love

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By Mike Edwards

Many grew up with a view of God that encouraged fearing God. The threat of Hell was used to encourage such fear. Who doesn’t want to avoid being kept alive to be tortured forever? Good news! Hell doesn’t really exist. See here. So, since Hell doesn’t exist maybe God didn’t create us to whip us into submission.

What does the Bible really say about God? 

I am not going to quote you Bible verses to defend God is loving or wrathful. Verses can be quoted to suggest God is an angry son-of-a-bitch and you better get in line. Then, I could quote you bible verses that defend God is merciful, graceful, and loving. I am appealing to your common sense about love. Why would a Creator desire anything different relationally that what we were created to desire from others in relationships? 

Why would a loving God desire fear?

How do you want to be treated by your parents? Do you want to visit a parent who demands or instead seeks to earn respect? Do parents want us to fear them and visit out of obligation or like just hanging out. Do you want to be able to go to your parents for support or rebuke when you continue to mess up? I have a hunch God knows also fear doesn’t lead to change.

Where does fear get you?

Fear doesn’t work in spiritual or human relationships. People may suck up to you because you have something over them. They need a job, they need money to survive, whatever. Good luck when they don’t need a job or money. Genuine relationships happen not in an environment of fear but mutual respect.

Fear of God doesn’t make you a better person. 

Do you every think God needs a break from you at least for a day or do you think God can’t possibly forgive you for the 10th or 100th time? Guess again! God’s love and mercy, not gloomy uncertainty of God’s favor, is our necessary nourishment for breaking free from habitual habits or bad behaviors. God isn’t looking to pile more guilt on us. God already knows we heap enough guilt on ourselves. God seeks to continually assure us of God’s mercy, forgiveness, and love so we don’t every give up no matter how demoralized we may feel. 

But, don’t we need fear to control selfishness?

Has fear of consequences always stopped your selfishness? Fear only leads to trying to not get caught or doing enough to soothe others’ feelings. A great advantage in being a God-follower is being secure in knowing good enough isn’t enough. Relationships aren’t about just being good enough or not as bad as other partners. I have the “want to” to be perfect. My God allows me to pursue perfection while not being paralyzed by guilt when failing.

God’s approval can be a breath of fresh air.

Some parents beat down their children all their life, reminding them constantly how worthless they are. You aren’t thin enough. You aren’t pretty enough. You aren’t smart enough. You aren’t successful enough. You are worthless! God will never betray us like parents or partners can. A relationship with God always entails mercy, acceptance, and encouragement when seeking change.

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By Mike Edwards

This Post is longer than usual. It is an essay I wrote that was recently published in a book Open And Relational Leadership. Such a view of God, as opposed to a closed, standoffish God can be a game changer. Leaders proclaiming certainty have not allowed God’s open and relational ways to guide individuals in their own time.

I am grateful for pastors of churches I attended in the past who encouraged getting to know God. In retrospect, it seems pastors felt compelled to proclaim certainty of what God thought, according to their understanding of Scriptures. Perhaps they felt an internal pressure due to leadership expectations from parishioners. Didn’t pastors, though, read books where biblical scholars, who respect the authority of Scriptures, do not always agree? Total certainty is an illusion because even if God is Truth, we still have to discern what is Truth. For example, can preachers or priests be women or gay? Many are leaving the institutional church because of the lack of honest, open dialogue. God’s example seems more open and relational because of the freedom given to understand God in our own time.

It’s hard to be relational when you are so damn certain.  

One would think Christians would be the least judgmental people in the world. After all, they believe in loving others like they want to be loved. Catholics and Protestants, or whatever other representation of the church may apply, seem compelled to establish creeds, as if uncertainties about God are a sign of weakness. It isn’t always voiced that you are required to accept their doctrines to participate, but try challenging them and see where that gets you! If God was so concerned about beliefs such as the Trinity, angels, the Bible, the Virgin Mary, or hell, it seems there would be more agreement. Maybe Christians would be more united and less judgmental if religions only encouraged the Creed of Love as the Spirit guided individuals. 

No, uncertainty doesn’t have to lead to lawlessness!  

I am not suggesting anything goes in the declaration that we can’t be certain. No one questions laws against murder. Criminals don’t deny their actions are wrong; they deny they committed such a crime. Unless you are a terrorist, it is almost universally accepted that it is morally wrong to kill or behead someone because of his or her beliefs. We don’t have to fear uncertainty. Different opinions, expressed without physical or verbal aggression, can stand side by side, as we continually evaluate the most loving approach or understanding of God. 

The idea of an infallible or inspired Bible may be a reason Christians claim certainty. 

The Bible certainly is a resource to discover what God is like, though the majority of people born into this world didn’t have a Bible or knowledge of Jesus. There must be other ways to know God! Infallibility is a non-starter because we don’t have the original manuscripts. The many translations or versions of the Bible we have today suggest copying is not an exact process. Even if we had the original autographs, interpretation is still required. Scholars who believe in the authority of Scriptures disagree regarding what the Bible says about critical issues such as homosexuality, gender roles, divorce, and hell, among many other things.

Interpretations are fallible, but most people do not begin a discussion with “I may be wrong…” Keep in mind that we can’t prove that God inspired every word of the Bible, unless you argue a biblical writer making such a claim is definitive evidence. The possibility of a fallible book encourages questioning rather than demonizing views to the contrary. We have every right to question interpretations that suggest a Creator does not love in the way we were created to love. God-followers seem unaware of how often they appear to be unopen and morally superior based on their assumptions about the Bible. 

How can we know God?

Some declare God is 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 sometimes mysteriously good? The Bible assumes we can understand God by challenging us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48). We can only understand God’s perfect love by the way we humans were created to love perfectly. It is intuitive to think that the perfect love of God and human are the same. That is why the mystery card is used when God seems unloving from a human perspective. A Creator surely loves others and us in the same way that we were seemingly created to love others. 

Where has certainty in God’s name gotten us? 

It is logical to suggest we can’t be certain of what an invisible, inaudible God thinks. But supposed certainty has led to justifying slavery. It has led to revered theologians such as St. Augustine and John Calvin not firmly opposing the execution of those who didn’t agree with their theology. The Bible can’t be the definitive guide to what God would do because scholars who respect Scriptures disagree on so many issues. And it clearly is wrong to behead people because they don’t share your personal beliefs about God. 

Jesus didn’t judge uncertainty.  

Jesus performed many miracles, but his disciples/followers still didn’t believe. Jesus didn’t cast away Peter when warning him he would deny Jesus three times; I believe Peter now is called the “Rock.” Jesus hung out with all kinds of people that didn’t share his certainty. Jesus didn’t unload on others when their beliefs weren’t his, unless you were a religious authority who was misrepresenting God. My hunch is that God, like parents, would rather be doubted than ignored. 

Is God unloving by not being more visible, thus more certain?

We may wonder why God isn’t more obvious in our lives. God’s awe-filled or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. When parents push their agendas, even if in their children’s best interests, a child may resent or rebel against coercion and never turn back from that rebellion. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow for heartfelt choices. God may know what a controlling parent never learns: the road of learning, reflecting, and non-coerced choices may best lead to lasting convictions.

God’s love is not controlling. Controlling love is an oxymoron. Authenticity, the highest good in relationships, is impossible without freedom. Not even an almighty God can force true love. It isn’t that God has the power to do something and doesn’t. God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. God, like parents, had a choice—not to create or to create knowing suffering was a possibility in the pursuit of intimacy. Divine love limits divine power. God is open to changing the world at relational speed. 

Uncertainty can lead to acting more lovingly.  

Being unable to declare the certainty or morality of our opinions forces us to listen and express ideas openly. God understands, as much as humans do, that forcing beliefs does not lead to long-lasting changes. Starting a conversation with “I may be wrong…” will more likely lead to new understandings and creative solutions. Conversations change when humility is part of the tone. Certainty, when it comes to political matters such as taxes or health plans, has led to justifying verbal or physical violence in the name of God or morality. Differences don’t have to lead to chaos but can be resolved by remaining open-minded to the most loving ways.

The Bible tells us the Word of God is not the Bible; it is flesh in the body of Jesus (Jn. 1:1-14). Jesus, when leaving this earth, didn’t promise to leave us with a Bible, but with God’s Spirit to aid in discerning good from evil (Jn. 14:16). Doesn’t the Spirit speak to us somehow when we have thoughts to be the perfect partner, parent, or friend we desire to be deep down, despite our constant failures? It may be good that that the Spirit doesn’t communicate audibly. The Bible may be more direct communication, but it has been used to force beliefs on others despite being subject to interpretation. Leaders who admit uncertainty, rather than certainty, about God, keep from imposing beliefs on others, which is just not in God’s open or relational nature.

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by Jim Gordon

I imagine we all have been in a relationship with a family member or close friend where we had some misunderstandings and miscommunications. These can often cause hurt feelings and arguments. That is bad enough but there are times when we get treated downright unfairly by others.

I know there are people who are just an acquaintance and we really do not know them. When they treat us badly, we can move on with no real concern. Yet the people who are close friends, relatives, siblings and parents can be just as mean at times. For me, I have always believed in treating all people respectfully and kindly, but those who are close are the people we really do not want to allow the unfair and unkind treatment to continue.

I have seen it many times over the years. People you love and respect seem to take you for granted and do things that are unkind, disrespectful and demeaning. When it first begins to happen, our usual response is to ignore it. We think they did not mean it or they were just in a bad mood at the time.

This may be the case. Often times it can be a simple misunderstanding. Yet if it goes on and on and it happens time after time, it will eventually start to be a major problem. Good communication is key at this point. You need to think enough of yourself and the relationship to speak up. This does not have to be done in a mean or hateful way. Just a calm private talk explaining what is going on and how you are feeling can put an end to such treatment.

I have personally seen a few people who were treated disrespectfully and taken for granted time after time, month after month, year after year. So much that eventually they gave up on the person and the relationship was damaged. When we continue to accept being treated badly, we are not only damaging the relationship but we are destroying our spirit. As we continue to accept such treatment we begin to think less and less of ourselves.

Very often the way people treat others is done out of ignorance. They may not even realize how they come across. Again, good communication and standing up for yourself can straighten things out. The main thing is do not allow yourself to accept this kind of treatment. Think of yourself more highly than to take whatever bad treatment people dish out.

When people are treated with such disrespect and taken for granted the best thing to do is (for you Andy Griffith fans) pull a Barney Fife…. nip it, nip it in the bud.  When we allow others to treat us unkindly year after year after year, it eventually takes a toll on us and we come to a point where the relationship is lost. Stand up now, speak up now. Do not allow this kind of treatment to continue for the sake of maintaining a good relationship with someone you care about.

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by Jordan Hathcock

 “We are part of something more than we are observing something. How does that feel to you? From the perspective of participation, we can recognize that most of religious and church history has been largely preoccupied with religious ideas about which we could be wrong or right. When it is all about ideas, we do not have to be part of “it”; we just need to talk correctly about “it.” We can avoid actually living out our beliefs and walking our talk.”– Richard Rohr

When it comes to the history of Christendom, it was mostly about obedience then participation. We see this through the various traditions. This concept of obedience ends up being more of “having the correct” beliefs rather than living out a loving way of life. When we get to caught up in the ideas of faith, we wind up being consumers rather than doers.

When we come to experiential trust, we can recognize that it’s really about connecting with others through relationships. It’s making oneself encounter the whole of being rather than worrying about if you have the doctrine of the atonement right (which it all boils down to a theory rather than an experience). See, when we get to caught up in “who has it right” we create an us vs. them paradigm which only causes division.

We have to come to the table of reconciliation and be always for coming together unified despite our differences. Yes, there is a way to participate that involves some type of decision to “obey”-which a better term would be taking action. Unfortunately, from many people’s stories and experiences with obedience, it was more of a blind allegiance rather than a divine connection. It is a dangerous thing when one loses himself to the higher powers of authority. This will lead to unhealthy abuse as one study showed regarding blind authoritative control:

“Decent people participate in horrific acts not because they become passive, mindless functionaries who do not know what they are doing, but rather because they come to believe — typically under the influence of those in authority — that what they are doing is right.”-Science Daily

When we come to a place of authoritative obedience, we become oblivious to the harmful effects to ourselves and others. This is not what having faith is all about! Faith is having the courage to step into the unknown and experience the process of bringing about love that heals and liberates. God is not interested in obedience as much as entering in a relational space that endows growth and connection. Yes, we make the decision to trust and follow God, but if we do not believe that the center of all being is already connected to us, we will never fully allow this relationship to God and Her creation blossom and take hold of our reality. If its just obedience to an idea and not to a reality, we will not see the transformation bloom in ourselves and our surroundings.

Coming to a place of desiring the divine connection is a difficult journey. Its not all skittles and rainbows, that is for damn sure! It does take a great amount of patience and letting go of egotistical habits. Jesus wasn’t lying when he said, “to find life you must lose your life”. It is action that really drives a reaction. If we just sit on the sidelines of statements of beliefs, we will never truly experience the divine transformation that breaks us free. If we don’t take seriously the Orthopraxy of this whole Jesus movement, we are not going to survive. Its time we become participants of the God who is love and let go of the idea of blind obedience if we ever want to see dynamic change…

“New and stirring things are belittled because if they are not belittled the humiliating question arises ‘Why then are you not taking part in them?” ― H.G. Wells

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by Rocky Glenn

As I sit here on the couch working on the next post in the Enjoy The Moment series, What About The Love? from Amy Grant’s 1988 Lead Me On begins to stream on Pandora.   The song gave me pause and brought to the forefront once again the issues we are facing today concerning religion and self-righteousness versus love aren’t anything new but were being spoken about thirty years ago and all the way back to Paul.  Below are the lyrics of the song followed by the words of Paul from Galatians.

“What About The Love”

I went to see my sister, she was staying with a friend
Who had turned into a preacher to save the world from sin
He said “First deny your body, Then learn to submit
Pray to be made worthy, and tithe your ten percent”
I said “Is this all there is, just the letter of the law?”
Something’s wrong.

I went to see my brother on the 32nd floor
Of a building down on Wall Street – You could hear the future’s roar
He said “Here we make decisions, and we trade commodities;
If you tell me where there’s famine, I can make you guarantees”
I said “Is this all there is, Power to be strong?”
Something’s wrong.

Something’s wrong in heaven tonight
You can almost hear them cry
Angels to the left and the right
Saying “What about the love, What about the love, What about the love?”

I went to see my neighbor, he’d been taken to a home
For the weak and the discarded who have no place to go
He said “Here I lack for nothing I am fed and I am clothed,
But at times I miss the freedom I used to know”
I said “Is this all there is When your usefulness is gone?”
Something’s wrong.

I looked into the mirror proud as I could be
And I saw my pointing finger pointing back at me
Saying “Who named you accuser? Who gave you the scales?”
I hung my head in sorrow, I could almost feel the nails
I said “This is how it is to be crucified and judged without love.”

Galatians 5:4-6 from The Message:

I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.

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Rocky

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