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Archive for March, 2016

What’s One Assumption Hurting God’s Reputation The Most?

God could have a greater impact in the lives of others if we avoided one main assumption about God’s agenda. Most know Jesus main message was to love your neighbor as yourself, but people typically enter conversations about God with the mentality “first things first.” Christianity over the centuries has taught that Jesus came to save us from God’s wrath. God is portrayed as being more concerned with their reputation and honor than love and well-being of their children.

When people talk about God initially, they may suggest one must first believe in God and be saved from God’s justice; otherwise, one risks going to Hell than Heaven. We must confess our sins and accept Jesus’ death as our necessary punishment in God’s eyes. Jesus did not have a list of beliefs required of His disciples before encouraging them to follow Him. Jesus’ interactions with others didn’t suggest certain steps one must take before taking to heart His message. Jesus simply encouraged all to never grow wary of doing good and shunning evil to avoid destruction.

Do we really think Jesus rejected those who expressed doubt if He was the one prophesized or even if there was a God? Jesus certainly defended Himself to those who believed in some kind of God. There are many rational reasons why one may struggle with believing in an invisible God, but whether one believes in a God or not doesn’t prove God exists or not. Jesus clearly was sensitive to others by allowing the freedom to believe or not believe on one’s own timetable.

What Jesus didn’t tolerate and spoke out against was destructive behaviors. What parent doesn’t warn their children of behaviors that are self-destructive? I am open-minded but any beliefs that violate the rights of others are immoral. Any belief that says it doesn’t matter how I treat others as long as I am happy is disastrous. One has a right to believe that, but I wouldn’t be wrong warning you won’t have many friends and your children won’t visit when you are older. The only reasons you might have friends or children visit is because they are financially dependent on you. You will never experience the deepest joy in relationships because how you treat others.

Conversations should never be forced but there should be no hidden agendas when encouraging one another to be more the people we deep down desire to be. How can our relationships better heal and thrive? In a troubled world being law-abiding citizens is great but not enough. We must be encouraging and forgiving people. Jesus’ sought to convey that our Creator loves and forgives us despite our failures in hopes we will treat others the same. It matters to some how their Creator’s feels about them. Jesus didn’t come to save God’s reputation but to save us from ourselves!

What’s The Problem With Claiming Spiritual Certainty?

I still hold to many traditional Christian beliefs, but I am not convinced trying to convert others to such beliefs is impacting the world in the way God hopes. Our agenda in converting others to our beliefs is not getting others to talk about how we can better love our neighbors. I do not apologize for suggesting we need more spiritually minded people. Anyone can love the lovable. In a troubled world there is also a need for mercy and forgiveness so healing can take place.

Some are certain there is a God but others may find it hard to believe in an invisible God. This doesn’t mean people are suppressing what God has clearly revealed to them. There are many rational reasons why one may find it hard to believe in an invisible God. Let’s not accuse those who believe as needing a crutch and those that don’t believe of being wicked and not knowing their feelings. If it is a sin to doubt God exists, then Christians sin if they doubt God in troubled times. Not being certain about God doesn’t have to be a reason for not pursuing spirituality.

Many are certain the Bible is God’s infallible words to us through selected writers. Many non-rebellious, spiritual scholars do not believe the gospels always record Jesus exact words but writers may have put words in Jesus’ mouth to express their interpretation of who Jesus is. Most can agree what a loving God is like similar to agreeing on what is moral or immoral behavior. We don’t have to convince others of what we may believe. What we need is to have graceful conversations so to work out our own convictions. We do know any view that leads to the violation of the rights of others is wrong.

Attempts to convert others to certain beliefs are not working. Church folks often do more harm than good when evangelizing others. People leave with even more of a negative perception of God. When people have hidden agendas and conversations are forced on others, we ruin chances of encouraging others to consider the importance of spirituality. Asking one if they believe Jesus died for their sins is a much different conversation than mutually discussing our desires to love others like we want to be loved.

People are leaving churches for a reason. Church attendance isn’t rising. People are just changing churches when a new show is in town. Jesus was absolutely convinced God’s ways lead to changes in relationship and in the world. Divorce often is necessary to protect the innocent party from the guilty. Jesus though did confront the mentality that it is ok to kick your partner to the curb to enjoy your current fantasy. This is wrong in marriage, business, or friendship. Such behaviors seem as prevalent among church-goers as those that don’t go to church. People don’t need to be converted or attend a church. People need to find relationships where they can be discuss becoming the type of person we need to become and often desire to be.

What I am certain about is we must pursue being more spiritual. Such conversations must not be forced on others, but I am convinced such discussions happen more if one less worried about converting others to their beliefs. Few object to the importance of treating others like you want to be treated. I am bias in what a relationship with God can do. Loving parents, just as God, can be an inspiration and support in a challenging world. God’s love and forgiveness can be our necessary nourishment that leads to life transformations. But, all leaders of the main religions have one main message – loving your neighbor as yourself – so relationships can heal and thrive.

Who Is Spiritual And How Can We Encourage More Spirituality?

We need as many people as possible to be spiritual-minded for a better world. The conversation of spirituality should not be any more taboo than pursuing physical or mental health. One does not have to be religious in order to be spiritual. Jesus, whose message started the Christian movement, was more concerned with the religious not being spiritual. Jesus never referred to followers as Christians or insisted on certain beliefs. Jesus simply spoke about the importance of spirituality by striving to love others like we want to be loved. Are you spiritual?

The truth is most religions have one message – loving your neighbor as yourself – so relationships can better heal and thrive. Some may join a certain religion to be encouraged in such a pursuit. People don’t need to be converted or attend a church if that is not their preference. Few reject the importance of loving others like you want to be loved. I am not suggesting such conversations be forced or friends have any hidden agenda. We need relationships though where we can discuss becoming the type of person we deep desire want to be.

It is suspect that a loving God insists all believe in the Christian God when the majority of people born have lived and died without any knowledge of the Bible or who Jesus was. A loving God is neither going to judge people who have a distorted belief of God which may lead to misbelief. We may only have important spiritual conversations when accepting more of a relational view of a loving God in a pluralistic world: “Consider the belief that there is an ultimate transcendent Reality which is the source and ground of everything; that this Reality is benign in relation to human life; that the universal presence of this Reality is humanly reflected (‘incarnated’) in the lives of the world’s great spiritual leaders; and that among these we have found Jesus to be our principal revelation of the Real and our principal guide for living (John Hick, The Metaphor of God incarnate, 187).

Some may not pursue spirituality because it is insisted one must believe in God to be spiritual. The first chapter of Romans in the Bible is used to suggest that all people that don’t believe in God are simply suppressing what God has clearly revealed to them. The passage is referring to those who believed in a God but ignored, so they could continue in their wicked ways. There are many rational reasons why one may find it hard to believe in an invisible God. Let’s not accuse those who believe as needing a crutch and those that don’t believe of being wicked and not knowing their feelings. If it is a sin to doubt God exists, then Christians sin if they doubt God in troubled times. Not believing in God doesn’t have to be a reason for not pursuing spirituality.

Many believe the way they do because of the family they were born into. If born in a Muslim family we are most likely to become a Muslim; if born in a Christian family we are more likely to become a Christian. Some have had poor role models and is understandable they want nothing to do with a God who is portrayed as a parent. Being religious is not the same as being spiritual. One may join any religious group or non-religious group. All that matters is that we find relationships to be encourages to pursuit loving others like we want to be loved.

Some may equate spirituality with believing in certain portrayals of God that don’t make moral or relational sense of a loving God. It can be too much for some to stomach a God who supposedly burns people forever if they don’t believe in God. Who doesn’t know unending suffering is pointless as it doesn’t produce any good. Some religious suggested God is gender bias by insisting men have authority over women. Individual interpretations of the God of the Bible are not infallible. We can though know what a loving God is like similar to knowing right from wrong. Views of God must be discussed gracefully so each may work out their own convictions. We best focus on the message of how we can we love others in a troubled world with the help of one another and God if we believe in a God.

I am not suggesting being spiritual and being a law-abiding citizen are the same. Laws protect the innocent and it is reasonable to expect we all obey such laws. But, the Law can’t legislate matters of the heart to address the realities of our world. The Law can tell us amends are necessary when wronged, but the Law can’t tell you to forgive that which can never be returned such as one’s reputation. The Law can require we not speed excessively by a car, but the law can’t tell us what to do when one is stranded in their car. People hurt and often need to be shown mercy. Treating others like you want to be treated means when you are suffering, you want your friends to not always respond alike. Striving to be good just isn’t enough in a broken world.

I am discouraged but what seems to be a lot of spiritual passivity in this world. Let’s remove reasons for such behaviors because we are arguing over certain beliefs. It is difficult to argue that the motivation to love your neighbor is wrong-minded. We must all be in pursuit of being the person deep down we desire to be. I do not wish to undermine those who believe in a Creator. I am bias in what a relationship with God can do. Loving parents, as God, can be an inspiration to their children in being the person they desire to be deep down. God’s love and forgiveness can be our necessary nourishment that leads to life transformations. God’s support can help us not grow weary of doing going and shunning evil.

Are God’s Morals Ours Or Can God Do Whatever The Hell God Wants?

Many cannot respect or desire a relationship with a Creator that plays by different moral rules than advised to those created. Many argue out of respect that God can do what they want because they are God. Many who believe the Bible is God’s inspired words written down may suggest God lives by a different standard because of their interpretations of Scriptures. I believe many interpretations are misguided; therefore, we can assume God’s morals are the same as perfect human morals. Most understand loving parents, include God, don’t say do as I say not as I do.

It is hard to believe a loving God would actual tortures people forever for beliefs they had while a short time on earth. God doesn’t! No such place as Hell exists according to the Bible. Jesus used the Greek word Gehenna, wrongly translated as Hell, to warn against self-centeredness. Parents warn children similarly of paths of destruction. Gehenna, a real valley never Jerusalem, had a history of slaughtered bodies. Jesus taught spiritual death is even worse than physical death (Gehenna). See here.  Jesus never taught people can be scared into true righteousness. Love and mercy from our Creator is necessary to do good and shun evil.

It is unthinkable for many to think God believes half the world (women) are to be under the authority of men in home or religious settings. Jesus never said any human needs a mediator between them and God. Men are already prone to dominate and need no such encouragement. God did not create a male-controlled relationship between Adam and Eve in the beginning. Nations thereafter chose to be patriarchal. Jesus encouraged equality between the sexes and mutual respect against culture norms. The Apostle Paul advised husbands to love their wives as their own bodies. Some religious extremists would rather be dead than advocate for that.

God is accused of being a lover of war. There are some difficult passages, but do we really think God desired war over peaceful alternatives. God is charged with approving ethnic cleansing but no enemy of Israel was every totally annihilated. God has respected freedom of beliefs from the very beginning; otherwise, God who is powerful enough to create would annihilate immediately those who oppose God by choosing evil. Wars often are unavoidable when other nations have no desire to live in peace but to impose their beliefs. Wars often lead to innocent people dying but do nations simply stand by while others prepare to attack or torture their own people.

God does not claim the right to play favorites but not humans. Israel was not favored over other nations like a parent may favor one child at the expense of other siblings. It isn’t favoritism when all benefit. God chose one nation to bless all nations through the life of Jesus. Some may be familiar with the suggestion that God foreordains or elects ahead of time those who will be allowed into heaven after death. It is immoral to most to suggest God chooses some over others regardless of their beliefs. God s grace does not have a quota!

The Creator referred to a relationship with those created as a Parent with their children. Communication simply breaks down when a parent doesn’t live by moral standards they encourage for others. How can we discern to follow God’s example unless God clarifies each action if appropriate for humans or not? It doesn’t make rational or relationship sense why God would not demand of themselves what actions they demand of us. God intended their words and their actions to convey how to live a life worth living.

Why Do Religions Such As Christianity Need To Get Out Of The Conversion Business?

Religions that don’t advocate the violation of the rights of others may have good motives when attempting to persuade others of their beliefs. I will discuss Christianity since I am most familiar with those beliefs. Having the goal of conversion often leads to people getting hung up on accepting certain beliefs which hinders important spiritual discussions. Spiritual discussions become taboo unlike physical or emotional health discussions. Few object to the importance of treating others like you want to be treated, so we must find ways to have such discussions in more natural ways. There is no more important discussion than how we can be more loving.

The majority of people born have lived and died without any knowledge of the Bible or who Jesus was. It is suspect that a loving God insists all believe in the Christian God they have never heard about. Neither must we convert to Christianity those who possess a Bible. John Hick offers a relational view of a loving God in a pluralistic world where people have never heard of Jesus or have a distorted view of God: “Consider the belief that there is an ultimate transcendent Reality which is the source and ground of everything; that this Reality is benign in relation to human life; that the universal presence of this Reality is humanly reflected (‘incarnated’) in the lives of the world’s great spiritual leaders; and that among these we have found Jesus to be our principal revelation of the Real and our principal guide for living (The Metaphor of God incarnate, 187).

Religion conversations do not have to proceed: “Do you believe in God? Do you believe Jesus was the Son of God and died to save you from your sins? Do you believe that the Bible is God’s inspired communication to us? Will you confess your sins, believe, and begin to go to church?” I would suggest very few react positively or are persuaded with such an approach unless they are choosing to attend an evangelistic meeting in the first place. If one was less worried about converting others to their beliefs the conversation may be totally differently.

We often need to have discussions such as: “How are you doing spiritually or in relationships?” Do you agree the pursuit of loving others like you want to be loved is important? How do you think one can best stay on course in such a challenging world?” I am not suggesting such conversations be forced or that conversations have any hidden agenda other than encouraging one another to be less self-centered. All leaders of the main religions best have one main message – loving your neighbor as yourself – so relationships can better heal and thrive.

The world can be a much better place when more people are actively pursuing less selfish lives. Attempting to convert people to a set of beliefs is drowning out the message. I get why certain Christian beliefs are difficult to accept for many. Christianity often insists Jesus was God in person but logically how can one be deity and not deity? Does it really matter one’s beliefs on such matter rather than the message of how to make the world a better place to live in. Let’s discuss Jesus’ wisdom on such matters or any other credible person who may represent Truth. The question is did Jesus or anyone speak truthfully of what a loving God desires for us.

Jesus seemed to care less about certain beliefs and more about the importance of loving your neighbor as yourself. Jesus conveyed that God desires to help us in this endeavor. What would Jesus do if someone said I don’t believe you are the one prophesized, or I don’t believe you are going to resurrect in three days physically? Even Jesus’ disciples did not have to pass a litmus test of sacred beliefs. I get why people 2000 years later don’t necessarily think that Jesus resurrected. But, we still must discuss how to have better relationships in a troubled world. Jesus encouraged resisting behaviors that lead to personal or relationship destruction. Jesus’ only sacred belief was that our Creator loves and forgives us and desires to inspire us to act the same toward others. Jesus taught God seeks to empower us to do good and shun evil.

No loving God imposes their views on others if the rights of others are not being violated. If you currently can’t believe in a God or Creator, they how do you think we can best love one another? It seems to me there is a lot of spiritual passivity in this world. Let’s remove reasons for such behaviors because we are arguing over beliefs rather than how we can have more loving relationships. It is difficult to argue that the motivation to love your neighbor is wrong-minded. I do not wish to undermine those who believe in a Creator. Loving parents, as God, can be an inspiration to their children in being the person they desire to be deep down. God’s love and forgiveness can be our necessary nourishment that leads to life transformations. But, we must have spiritual conversations if the world is going to have more positive changes.

 

 

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Can One Be Spiritual But Not Religious?

Religions by seeking converts are conveying one must be religious in order to be spiritual. Jesus was more concerned with the religious not being spiritual. Jesus’ biggest grip was with religious leaders who distorted who God is by insisting on certain beliefs. Jesus’ only sacred belief was that our Creator loves and forgives us and desires to inspire us to act the same toward others. A life of self-centeredness is personally and relationally destructive and not going to make for a better world. Spirituality is simply striving to love others like we want to be loved.

Jesus was never a part of any religion. Jesus never referred to followers as Christians. Jesus never ever suggested we go to “a” church. Unfortunately, people who supposedly believe in the same message of loving your neighbor as yourself divide into their separate buildings (i.e. Catholics, Protestants, Baptists, Methodists, etc.). They establish certain rules or customs you must follow to join which drowns out the message. Jesus simply taught God seeks to empower us toward a life of doing good and shunning evil.

One is not spiritual because they go to church or because they have certain beliefs about God. The religious tend to communicate their beliefs as truth, but views of God are fallible so each individual must work out their beliefs about God with God. We must though be able to talk about our spiritual health as much as our physical or emotional health. People don’t need to be converted or attend a church; we need relationships where we can discuss becoming the type of person we deep desire want to be.

Many may struggle for rational reasons to believe there is a Creator. For those who believe there is a Creator, I am convinced God desires to support us in our pursuit of loving others like we want to be loved. In a troubled world being law-abiding citizens is great but not enough. God never loses hope in us despite our failures and hopes we will do the same for others. God always loves and forgives us despite our imperfections in hopes we will treat others the same. God seeks to empowers us to be encourages than discourages for change.

 

Why Do Non-Religious Spiritual People Avoid Spiritual Discussions?

Many people are spiritual-minded but avoid spirituality discussions for good reasons. It may surprise many of the Christian faith that when Jesus was asked how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and love others as yourself (Lk.10:25-27). This is not exactly a typical evangelistic spiel. God is not egotistical but Jesus understood loving God is being empowered to love others to the fullest. Few object to the notion of treating others like you want to be treated, so we must have discussions without all the trappings of supposed sacred beliefs. 

Followers of Christianity may deter people from spiritual discussions because of the goal to convert others to their religion and beliefs. People often reject dogmatic beliefs rather than the message of loving your neighbor as yourself with the help of God. Jesus’ interactions with others didn’t suggest that God had a litmus test of beliefs. Jesus’ only sacred belief was that our Creator loves and forgives us in hopes to inspire us to act the same toward others. Jesus taught God seeks to empower us toward a life of doing good and shunning evil. People don’t need to be converted; people need to be encouraged to have conversations how to love in their relationships.  

Followers of Christianity also deter people by how they conduct business. The Bible does not encourage divisions among followers – Baptists, Methodists, Protestants, Catholics, etc. Religious people fight over their different doctrines, yet all supposedly believe in the same message of loving your neighbor as yourself. Why would anyone seeking spiritual guidance seek help from people that can’t get alone? We have enough conflict in our families, friendships, and places of work. Christianity or any religion is better off without buildings with names on them. We simply need people meeting with one another to encourage each in their spiritual walk.  

Some many reject God because portrayals don’t make moral or relational sense. Some insist God is a sadistic torturer by insisting Hell is real in the Bible. Some religious suggested God is gender bias by insisting men have authority over women. Biblical interpretations that don’t convey what a loving God should be like are suspect. All are capable of knowing what a loving God is like similar to knowing right from wrong. God is not some immoral, irrational Being. Views of God must be discussed gracefully so each may work out their own convictions. Interpretations are fallible so we mustn’t declare our opinions are the truth. We should focus on the message of how we can we love others in a troubled world with the help of one another and God. 

Those who don’t pursue God are often accused of being internally rebellious. I suggest the main reasons may be because of the way spirituality is presented and lived out. Spiritual conversations are as important as physical or emotional health conversations, but one’s goal to convert or push certain beliefs deters such exchanges. It is also important that spiritual minded people who wish to encourage others confess wrongdoing, seek forgiveness, and make necessary amends in relationships. We need to stop judging others, if they aren’t violating the rights of others, and focus on living up to our own standards. If one is looking for an excuse to not be more spiritual-minded, hang for me a day for I never live out my values completely. But, we aren’t going to believe in any cause if we are waiting for others to fail.  

I doubt anyone who has read this lacks character. I just am convinced having a spiritual compass is essential in our relationships and making for a better world. I am not normally a bad guy but I am a better person because of having a spiritual focus. I believe I had more success as a parent because I sought to emulate God who doesn’t control for the sake of authentic relationships. I have messed up in my marriage, but God has taught me the importance of confessing, taking responsibility and making amends as best I could. I am not quite sure how to explain but a relationship with God, who loves and forgives us, can inspire us to act the same toward others, to not give up being an encourager than discourager, to not give up doing good and shunning evil.

 

 

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