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by Rocky Glenn

Although it’s been several months since I’ve last written, I’ve been sharing with you for four years now my life of being raised a churchboy. My efforts to reveal the questions, thoughts, and struggles I’d lived with for most of my life was also an admission of the beliefs and practices I had not only misbelieved myself but also taught and forced on others. I can’t really recall any expectations I had when this all began, but what started as a simple detailing of the struggles to free myself of the guilt, unworthiness, and shame grew into a journey I never expected. All I remember is I had such a joy and excitement over the love, peace, and acceptance I had finally found after searching for so many years I simply did not want to see others lived trapped by the life I was escaping. It was an unraveling and deconstructing of the person I was as I tasted true hope and freedom in a way I had never experienced before.

At times I’ve written out of hope, at times out of anger, and at times out of frustration. I’ve shared memories from childhood, stories of adolescence, and struggles from marriage and being a parent. Support and encouragement have come from friends and family I’ve known many years as well as new friends and acquaintances I’ve met along the way. Others I’ve shared life with have been less supportive sometimes making their feelings known, most just simply walking away. My admission of being wrong for so many years was simply too much for them to accept so in return they could no longer accept me.

The process of dismantling so much of what you’ve built your life on is treacherous and not a pain-free, easy experience. In efforts to distance yourself from your former self, you can actually become an anti-version of your former self. All the zeal, fervor, and passion I used to have for my religious ways took over in my efforts of being anti-religious. Memes and social media posts were often shared with an attitude of shock and awe to push the envelope and poke the bear of those stuck in my former churchboy ways. I once again became caught up in a mindset of us versus them – only this time it wasn’t Christians versus The World . . . it was legalistic, rule-abiding, traditional Christians versus grace loving, liberal, free Christians. So, once again I’m here to admit I was wrong.

This struggle and discovery are what has kept me from writing for the past four months. This time the undoing of myself wasn’t to be done publicly but was something to be done by myself and simply for myself. I distanced myself from all the things I had surrounded myself with throughout the journey: no podcasts were listened to, no blogs were read or written, and badges of being done with religion were removed from social media. During this time, I received the greatest support from my loving wife and the two men I have come know as brothers through Done with Religion, Jim Gordon and Mike Edwards. Other than those three, few have had any insight to the thoughts bouncing around inside my head.

So, is this a farewell from the blogging world from this former churchboy? I can’t say and choose not to speculate. With that being said, I want to take the time with what I feel have revealed themselves as the three undisputable beliefs which now govern my life:

God Loves You (and Me)

There is nothing that will ever change this. Nothing I can do will make him love me more, nothing I have done has made him love me more. Nothing I don’t do will make him love me less, nothing I haven’t done has made him live me less. He loves me as I am right now in this moment, not for the person I may or not become.

Love is the Only Thing That Matters

Love is the greatest force in the universe. Love is more important than being right, and love can overcome any wrong. Love is displayed in actions not words.

There is No Supposed To Be

We spend most of our life chasing the idea of how we think things should be. If we let our lives be governed by the first two beliefs above, we can learn to let go and enjoy life in the moments as they happen.

I have enjoyed sharing my life with all who have read over the last four years. This may or may not be the final post I ever write. If you would like to keep in touch, I am on most social media sites but for the sake of privacy I am more selective than I have been previously as to who I connect with. If you reach out, please introduce yourself.

Finally, if you are interested, listed below is a list of some of my favorite posts (or series) I’ve shared over the years.

Rocky, aka ChurchBoyNoMore

Favorite Posts from the Last Four Years

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In our world today there seems to be a lot of talk in the Christian world of standing up for our beliefs and doctrines. It seems we feel this is the best way to show our devotion to God and be a witness for Him.

I am not so sure we are going about this in the correct way. As Christians we are getting to be known more for what we are against and being unloving rather than showing the love of God to others.

A lot of us go to a church building on Sunday and sing and smile and listen to a sermon and think we have fulfilled our duties for the week. All day we are feeling good and close to God and think everything is good.

1354_0sQxfHsCu0

Then Monday hits and we go grudgingly off to work with a frown on our face and feeling down. We may be in a bad mood and snap at our fellow employees and try to make them feel as bad as we do.

It seems we forget that Christianity is not a religion or a one day a week life. As followers of Christ we are to let Christ live through us in the strength of the Holy Spirit. We are to let his love flow out of us to touch those we come in contact with throughout the day.

Rather than try to win people over to our way of thinking by pointing out their mistakes and shortcomings, rather than condemning them and making them feel like outsiders we should be allowing the love of Christ to touch them. We should be accepting and treating all people like we want to be treated.

While Jesus lived in bodily form on earth he constantly spent time with those the religious crowd would not even think of being around. He spent time doing things that the religious leaders thought were wrong and against their religious laws. They could not even accept him as the messiah because he was so different from them and what they thought was a godly way to live.

1354_mcIDH6Y9UL

Jesus accepted people for who they were, just the way they were and did not show condemnation toward them. As followers of Christ we are to do the same. It is not our job to be the judge of others, pointing out their sins and mistakes and treating them like second class people. The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin where conviction is needed. We do not need to do the job of the Holy Spirit, we are here to be Jesus to all people, loving, accepting and treating everyone with respect no matter who they are or what they believe.

In our world today with all the discrimination and unloving ways of the world and even of the Church, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to love through us to touch others and let them know they are accepted and cared for, and in God’s eyes they are loved beyond measure. Love is the way of God because God is love. Stop the unloving and condemning attitudes and let those you come in contact with each day know they are loved and accepted just for being themselves.

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Have you ever questioned some of the things you were taught in church? I have been questioning a lot recently, but a couple verses have been on my mind and I am wondering if I may have been taught wrong or misinterpreted what is really meant. The verses are as follows:

Luke 6:22 Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.

I was taught this verse was talking about living as a christian witness in front of non-believers and how that would upset them. They would insult you and say you were evil because you followed Christ.

The other verse is Luke 6:26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.

I was told this meant that I was not living as a good christian witness. All non-believers would speak good things about me because I was just like them. I was not living my Christian witness strong enough, pointing out their sins and mistakes. Living like them meant it caused no guilt on their part because I was not being a good Christian example.

The Religious or Non-Believers?

I have come to think I was told wrong about these two verses. I wonder, could it be that these verses are actually talking about religious people rather than non-believers?

When we read about Jesus and how he lived while here on earth, I see something different from what I was taught about living a Christian life. Jesus loved the people who most religious people would not want to be around. I was always told I had to separate myself and stay away from non-believers. I should be ready to point out why they were wrong and that they were on the way to hell if they did not change their ways. This is not to say all these people were wrong or terrible people, but in the eyes of other christian people they were wrong. Neither does this consider the verse saying the Holy Spirit will convict the world and draw others to the Father. It is not our job to convict and condemn, but to love.

DidIStutter

Funny, I just do not see Jesus condemning and staying away from anyone. Jesus loved all people, even those that religion tells me to stay away from. When Jesus spent his time around the people the religious people wanted nothing to do with, He was hated, insulted and called evil…..by the religious people.

Just maybe when men speak well of us, it may not be non-believers. Maybe this is talking about the religious people speaking well of us because we are just like them, religious, condemning, relying on good works and fulfilling the law, and isolating ourselves from the people they thought were evil. Maybe when we want to spend time with those the religious try to avoid, it makes the religious crowd mad and they will be calling us evil. That’s what they did to Jesus, so we can expect the same.

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If you think by the title of this article that I am going to say being gay is a sin and they had better repent or else, you are wrong. I will not get into the debate of whether being gay is right or wrong, or of bashing other human beings. We see and hear enough of that kind of talk all over the place and truthfully, I think we should be above that way of acting and show the love and acceptance Jesus said we should have for one another.

For some reason or another, Christianity has made being gay the supreme sin of the world. Whether it is a sin or not is not for me to decide. I do know we ALL have sinned in one way or another. God showed us how to live a perfect life and none of us can do it. He knew we were unable to live a sinless life, and He sent Jesus to provide a better way, a way of grace. He did the work, now we can rest in Him.

Jesus told us to love others. He did not put us in charge of pointing out everyone’s differences or mistakes. We are all different in one way or another. Jesus came to show us that God loves and accepts us, and when he died he took our sinful nature and put it to death.

I recently saw an article somewhere that said gays hate Christians. First, I do not believe that, at least not for all gay people. Let’s face it, some gays do hate Christians, as do some straight people.

I really believe the problem for those who hate Christians is because they see Christians who are unloving, condemning and unaccepting. They seem more concerned about being right and getting their point across rather than showing the love of God. What those taking the brunt of such treatment so often do not see is the Father, who is love. They see people calling themselves Christians, yet not acting at all like God our Father, who loves all, accepts all and died for all.

Today what a lot of people see, and it seems especially gays, are people telling them they are bad, they are sinners, they are unacceptable, they need to change. Unfortunately, a lot of people saying these things are Christians who are supposed to be showing the love of God.

Jesus came to show us the Father. He came showing love and acceptance to all he met. In fact, the only ones you see Jesus having a problem with were the religious people of the day who thought they were better than everyone else.

love-yet-different

We can love and accept others even when we are different and do not agree. Loving does not mean always agreeing, but it does mean loving without condemning and expecting anything in return.

We can be Jesus to those we come in contact with each day, but let’s be the Jesus of the bible, who loves and accepts others. Let’s not be a jesus of religion who condemns those who do not believe and act like we expect.

God is love, and we, as followers of Jesus and representatives of God, are to be like our Father, loving everyone we meet along the way.

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When we think about Jesus, we automatically think of Christianity. Although the two are completely different.

Jesus didn’t come to start Christianity. Jesus was not a Christian. We are missing the whole point when we focus on religion rather than the real reason Jesus came to live among us. He came to show us the Father and the love He has for each and every one of us, no matter what we call ourselves or what group we belong too. He even loves those who don’t think he exists.

According to Wikipedia it is stated that according to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Jewish, Christianity and every other religion are all actually related. They are all human based ways of trying to please the God (or gods) they believe in and serve.

In regard to just Christian denominations, World Christian Encyclopedia says that world Christianity consists of 6 major ecclesiastical-cultural blocs, divided into 300 major ecclesiastical traditions, composed of over 33,000 distinct denominations in 238 countries. It certainly can’t be stated that people are not interested in some type of higher power.

We want to argue over religion and who is right, who is wrong. All the different religions of the world can’t agree on who we believe in or what is right. We even break it down more and argue within Christianity with all the different denominations, as we consider ourselves Catholic, or Methodist, or Lutheran, Presbyterian or part of the thousand other groups. We argue over whose interpretation is right and really don’t want to associate with those who feel differently.

Needless to say, we all have our interpretations, thoughts and ideas, but those just make us unique individuals. They were not intended to cause separations and divisions among us. We should be able to be ourselves and yet love and accept those who are different from us.

If we could get past the religious part of our beliefs and live in the freedom God provided, things would go much better. Rather than defend our denominational interpretations and our personal ideas, if we would love and accept others with the love of Christ, people would be more open to hear about our Father.

Christ-Christians

We are normally busy pointing out the mistakes of others, even our brothers and sisters in Christ who have a different view, and condemning those who we consider sinners. When we do so, the love Jesus told us to show everyone seems to get missed. I personally don’t think it is our job to convict people of their sins. Most people know their shortcomings already, and the Holy Spirit will convict the worldly of their sins, drawing them to repentance.

Jesus told us to love God and love others…period. When we focus on the gospels and the life of Jesus and realize that he didn’t condemn and point out the sins and mistakes of people, we can see a distinct difference from the way we act today. He only had an issue with the religious leaders who thought they were better than everyone else because of their works.

When it comes to saying I am a Christian, I am hesitant anymore because of the meaning it receives from most people. If being a Christian means a follower of Christ, someone who wants to be like Christ, and show the love of God to everyone, then I am for it. But if being a Christian is the typical church going, law following, condemning others way of life, I am done with that. In that sense, Christianity is not the answer, nor is any other man-made religion.

Jesus is not into religion. Jesus came to show the love of God to every human being no matter who they are or what they believe. Jesus crosses the barriers of religion and loves everyone. In the world today, we are the Jesus people see, and we should be ready to show the love and acceptance that he showed to everyone we meet.

You may be interested in reading an article on the same topic by my friend Glenn Hager. Read it here: http://www.glennhager.com/2013/05/17/did-jesus-start-a-religion/

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As Easter approaches, a popular morning TV program has been doing a series on the topic, ‘Can you be Spiritual without being Religious?’.

Now I don’t agree with every opinion given, but that the topic is being discussed is a good thing, bringing to light that there is a difference between being spiritual and being religious.

Obviously these days when you use the word spiritual, you can get into all kinds of strange thoughts and ideas. When I say spiritual, I am talking about a daily life following Christ and allowing His love to flow through us.

Spiritual Religious

My wife and I are no longer religious, but we are more aware of the spiritual, day-to-day life with God.

We realize that God is not a being up in heaven, coming down to visit us only when the conditions are right, or we are in a certain building, or we have been extremely ‘good’ over the past week.

No, God is spirit, and He is with us constantly. More than that, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and God dwells within us. He never leaves us nor forsakes us.

I am not sure why it is we have always thought of God as a being who is way up there somewhere. The bible makes clear that we are one with God, and that God dwells within us.

We  seem to think that the Kingdom of God is a place we go one of these days when this life on earth is over. I think this also is a big misconception. God says His Kingdom is within us. That means right now, not some future date.

If we could only get these truths in our head and in our spirit, I think we could live a life that would really make a difference. People would see such a change, a life of love, caring, power and compassion. Unfortunately, we have been taught by religion that this just isn’t the case. We rely on trying to work hard, follow the rules and just survive until we get to heaven. So we go on, living life without the power of the Kingdom of God, arguing amongst ourselves over doctrine and belief, and letting people see we really don’t have anything to offer them that is meaningful and different.

It is time we come to understand that God and His Kingdom are within us. He is not up there in heaven waiting on some future day when we go to join Him. God lives in us and is with us constantly.

Jesus was the perfect example of God living in man. We can be Jesus to the world today. We can show love, compassion, and acceptance to the world around us each day. We are not God, but we are one with God. The Spirit is within us and he will teach us and guide us daily. Listen for the voice of the Spirit in every situation. Realize God is within you and allow His love to touch those around you every day.

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When we talk about the Word of God, we usually think of the Bible.

If someone says the Bible is just a book, we get all offended and ready to voice our opinion that the Bible is the Word of God.

Not to sound sacrilegious, but sometimes we 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 we worship Christ. Christ is the true Word of God as mentioned in John 1:1. He is the living and powerful Word and His Spirit lives within us.

The Word

Many times we Christians focus so much on The Bible that we forget we have the living Word of God inside of us. The Holy Spirit, who is God in spirit form, just as Jesus was God in human form, 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.

There is certainly nothing wrong with reading the Bible, as it is God inspired. Through it we can learn from the past, we see the story of redemption throughout, we come to know the love God has for us and how he purchased our salvation through Christ. We learn what pleases God and we come to know that it is only by Grace that we are in right standing with God.

The Bible teaches us the Law and how we humans are completely unable to live a life pleasing to God through the law. The law was our tutor to bring us to realize that we need God’s grace through Christ.

The Bible teaches us of the freedom we now have in Christ and that only by His grace can we live a life pleasing to Him. There is nothing that we can do on our own to earn or deserve what He has done for us.

We need to focus on Jesus. He is the true and living Word of God. It is when we focus on Christ and listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit within us that the written words will come alive with power and meaning.

I like this statement by Mick Mooney, “Above all, trust the Spirit of God in you to guide you. It helps to remember that the Bible is a testimony of the life and finished work of Jesus, not the guide for your life; your Guide abides within you. Certainly the Bible has an important place in our faith walk, but it should never replace the work of the Holy Spirit in you. Christ in us is our hope. Christ in us is how we learn, and how we are led by God”.

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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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Have you ever come across someone who calls themself a Christian, yet the way they act says something different?

I remember an experience my wife had recently. She returned a couple books to what used to be a library. She did not realize the library had closed and a church was now there. A few days later she realized that the library was no longer at this site and went back to the church to get the books.

She said she will never forget the look and condescending attitude of the guy she talked to…who turned out to be the pastor.

My wife assumed that this pastor didn’t agree with women wearing makeup or knee-length dresses. Now I know there are groups that don’t believe in women wearing make-up, and I feel that is up to them how they interpret the Bible and what they feel is right and wrong, but my wife does not in any way over do her make-up, so I did not see any reason why anyone would even think to question the way she looked. Obviously this guy had a different thought on this. He was not nice to her, it was obvious that he didn’t want to talk to her and felt she shouldn’t be in his so-called ‘house of God’. What rubbish.

This whole incident made me think of Jesus when he was with some of the religious leaders of His day and made the statement, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness”.

First off, that building wasn’t the house of God. People tend to forget God doesn’t live in buildings. He lives in people who are saved by grace.

Second, what kind of witness was that to her. This guy did not know if she was a Christian or not. The way he treated her could have been the final straw for her wanting to know God.

We Christians need to stop and think about how we act in the world. We are God’s witnesses to the world. We may be the only witness they see, and if we aren’t living under the guidance of the Spirit of God, we can make a very negative impact of those we come in contact each day.

We need to be careful not to have a religious spirit. Let God’s love for others flow through you. Remember God told us to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. Don’t be a stumbling block to someone by the way you act and treat others.

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As I become more inclined to follow my feeling that the church of today is way off base of what God intended, the organized, man-made denomination, the ‘religious’ church, I continue to come across books and websites that confirm my thoughts.

Take for instance, the teaching of the church on tithing. We are constantly told we need to give our 10% to the church or we are robbing God. Wait a minute, wasn’t that in the Old Testament? Didn’t Jesus come to fulfill the law and provide grace for us? Follow the following links and read a different thought on tithing:
http://freebelievers.com/article/tithing-is-not-a-christian-doctrine
and
http://freebelievers.com/article/rethinking-the-tithe

Am I saying it is wrong to tithe? No. If you attend an organized church and you feel they are doing what God wants for them, yes, support it. But don’t feel you ‘have’ to tithe. Don’t let a pastor guilt you into giving because he uses some Old Testament verse to tell you that you’re robbing from God. Give because you love God and want to give. Give 1%, 5%, 10%, 50%, whatever you determine in your heart to give. We are free to give the amount we determine and are no longer under law and required to tithe.

nomoretithe

Why get so caught up on being in a building each week, listening to one man (or woman) telling us what God is saying or what the Bible says. Doesn’t God’s word say that we now have the Holy Spirit to teach us?

Am I saying it is wrong to go to church? Of course not. I do believe the modern-day organized church is not in line with what God intended, and I do believe we do not have to attend any organized church. Some will say the Bible says don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together. That is true, but it does not say you have to assemble together anywhere in particular. Meet up with other believers in a restaurant, or invite them to your home for a meal and a time of fellowship. That is what I feel the Bible is talking about. Check this article to see what I mean:
http://freebelievers.com/article/the-flabby-body-of-christ-why-is-church-so-dull

In our day and age, it is time to get over the man-made religion and the church building being the center of our Christian life and realize there is more. Most churches today are more of a social meeting place or a big business than anything. We should focus on Jesus and build our relationship with him and realize that WE are the Church and the Holy Spirit lives within us, making us the dwelling place of God. We are the temple of God. We need to build our fellowship with God and with one another. This doesn’t need to be done in a building with an organized service, but in spending time with our brothers and sisters in Christ, helping one another and talking about God and His love for us. Others should be able to know that we are Christians because of the love we have for one another.

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