To non-religious spiritual pursuers and my children (See ABOUT THIS SITE tab above or under Menu on phones to navigate site and Follow to receive future Posts)

Archive for September, 2016

Isn’t True Religion Being Non-Religious?

The word religion doesn’t always produce positive thoughts in the minds of those who hear the word. If I replace the word religion with spirituality, negative connotations often don’t come to mind. True religion should inspire positive thoughts similar to true spirituality. I define true religion as loving others like you want to be love in good and difficult times. For this discussion my definition will include a belief in a Reality beyond us that seeks to inspire such love.

True religion doesn’t insist on any beliefs other than the Law of Love – love others like you want to be loved for a better world. 

In a trouble world this means long lasting change can only be achieved when religion seeks to serve and not be served. Most seem to have the same internal compass that helps to discern love from hate. We know religious extremists and terrorists are wrong because a loving God would not demand certain personal beliefs or be ostracized or beheaded. Those not in search for power and control know that true love cannot be forced.

True religion doesn’t claim to be the only religion or path to God. The majority of people born into this world never have heard of the God written about in the Bible. The truth is that the majority of people accept or rebel against a certain religion based on the family born into whether it be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Suggesting a loving God insists one can only come to God through Jesus is to ignore the realities of our world.

True religion doesn’t insist on a set of beliefs found only in a Book not available to the majority of those born into this world. Besides, much of the Bible is subject to interpretations which obviously are not infallible. Scholars who believe in the trustworthiness of the Bible differ in their interpretations on matters concerning their faith. The reality is much of reading the Bible is discerning spiritual truths applicable to our circumstances. Claiming the Bible is inerrant doesn’t do away with that process.

True religion isn’t dogmatic if the rights of others aren’t being violated. True religion focuses on commonalities, not differences.

Discussions to prove than share one’s viewpoint is anti-religion. I may be right, you may be right, we may both be wrong! Many spiritual minded people assume they need to convert their friends to their beliefs in order to be accepted by God. Such beliefs communicate that God doesn’t accept them unless they come to share your personal beliefs. True, religious people don’t seek to convert but to encourage one another as they strive to love others as themselves.

True religion doesn’t have to call itself a name which simply distinguishes outsiders from insiders. Groups with doctrines or creeds suggest one must accept their beliefs eventually to be accepted. It shouldn’t have to be stated but true religion’s only identification are those who strive to encourage one another in loving and caring for others which can be messy and complicated.

True religion seeks to inspire others that unselfish love leads to personal freedom. For those who believe there is a God, we only want others to know God loves and hopes to empower us to reflect such love back to others. I am convinced when we know God the way Jesus knew God, we will sense God’s love and support in good and troubled times and pursue a life that doesn’t lead to regrets while here on earth.

God’s love is the love you always imagine would be true of a loving God. God’s love is the love we deep down desire to show others consistently.

How Can I “Easily” Become More The Person I Want To Be?

If you are like me, you want to know the quick and easy version how to become a better person. I want to lose weight but I need to know how to do it quickly while not changing my eating habits. Those who have a regular exercise routine and keep their binges under control would tell you it is simple, just do it! I admit I am bias toward how easy it is to become a more spiritual person, which by that I mean being more the person you deep down desire to be toward others. Most want for their legacy to be “they lived life lovingly.”

The good news is that accomplishing spiritual goals may be easier than physical goals.

We all want to be more of a positive influence on our children, friends, and co-workers. We better accomplish that when we have sources of inspiration. Mother Theresa once said that she was simply responding to God’s boundless love for her and for all of humanity. When one feels extraordinarily loved they want to reflect that love onto others. We need all the human and divine inspiration we can get, but our beliefs about God and others matters if we are going to be moved.

God can only inspire if inspirational. 

If your view of your Creator is one who demands than seeks to earn respect, if you view God as more angry than loving, if you view God as a sexist or homophobe – which you know isn’t loving – one is hardly motivated to reflect that kind of love onto others. You are going to have to do some thinking about your views of God, which is a lot easier than pushing back from wings, fries, and beer. I naturally love to read theology and then write about it.

Parents and employers can inspire. Divine inspiration can come depending on what you think God is really like. Because of how I think God feels toward me, I like being over-sensitive whether my words encourage or discourage others. I like when I have mistreated others that I have more of a desire to take responsibility for and confess wrongdoings then blame others for my actions. I like that I am more open to forgiveness than revenge when one confesses wrongdoing. I am not the person I wish I was, but you should see me without God. 

Are your views of God inspiring or uninspiring in being more the person you desire to be? 

Consider whether if reading, talking to others, or simply reflecting on God by reading spiritual blog like this one can help  smile   What if you discovered that God’s love is the love you always imagine would be true of a loving God, that God’s love is the love you deep down desire to show others consistently. You don’t have to overdo it, just start somewhere. No, it doesn’t have to be in church. Be purposeful in finding those who like to encourage and be encouraged to strive to be more the person you desire to be.

 

 

Black And Police Lives Matter!

I don’t know the perfect slogan. What I do know is that lives matter – black, police, all lives. Failing to voice that all lives matter, regardless of what side you represent, makes one guilty of what they accuse others of – disregarding life. I am not sure that police can police one another when problems arise. Whistleblowers are not popular in any occupation because jobs can be impacted. External investigations are more likely to build trust.

What frustrates me the most is that each side doesn’t always speak openly of the people they are trying to protect. When a black citizen is breaking the law, they need to be called out. When a policeperson targets someone because of the color of their skin, they need to be called out. Black or white people sometimes are where they aren’t supposed to be. All lives must be held accountable for their actions regardless of any injustice.

Those in the black lives moment must acknowledge when a black person is committing a crime. Admit that the citizen was breaking the law in the first place. Then, if excessive force was used have that conversation as well. Admitting wrongdoing doesn’t mean you can’t discuss if the police handled a situation wrongly.

Those among the police must call out their own who are exhibiting racist behaviors. We must be proactive than reactive. When you witness excessive force – if you think the matter should have been handled different – there must be a forum to discuss this. We have to hold each other accountable. Any tough job is typically a choice and doesn’t excuse wrong behavior or lapses of judgment.

When police tell you to not get out of the car or put your hands up, don’t reach for anything, sit down, whatever – regardless if being targeted unfairly, obey! If you are unfairly targeted that can be discussed later with appropriate authorities and not with the ones who are unfairly targeting you in the first place. We can’t break the law to enforce the law. Looting or rioting must be called out. When police are killed or treating unjustly, the police can’t start burning down neighborhoods, etc.

The police have an incredibly difficult occupation. Try doing a job where you have to worry about when leaving in the morning whether you will return to your family that night or not. Police need to sometimes be put on administrative leave with pay. If they are found innocent they should of course be able to keep that pay. If they are found guilty they should be held accountable to return their pay and charged with any criminal behaviors.

Black lives matter and police lives matter. You can’t solve the problem without calling out the side you represent when in the wrong. The other side must be held accountable for their wrongdoing. But, call out your own side as well while still seeking justice. Problems are less likely to be solved if bad behaviors are rationalized because of the way blacks or police have been treated in the recent or far past.

What Harm Is There In Demanding Certainty?

Are we really doing God a service by insisting that an invisible God is real? I don’t think we should be too hard on ourselves for good intentions in our past, but it is never to late to consider how we interact with others going forward. I use to be so sure that every word of the Bible was inspired by God. I was sure that the Genesis account was literal as opposed to maybe being a different literary genre intended by the writer. I was sure God is provable which leads to thinking if you don’t believe there is a God, you are being rebellious and denying the obvious.

I still believe that God is real but the truth is that no one can prove an invisible Being is real. On the same hand atheists that are hostile to God-believers because God can’t be proven scientifically are just as guilty in demanding certainty. Science is only meant to prove beyond question those things which are observable. Many beliefs in life require faith. It is reasonable and plausible that millions have hope that a loving God truly exists.

Why does all this matter – that we not insist on the unprovable?

People who believe in God often have loving motives when they discuss God in their relationships with others. But, to insist others accept our personal beliefs about God is not always the godliest action. Freedom has been God’s mantra from the very beginning. God has chosen to not insist on their ways or surely there would be no evil in the world. Insisting others believe as we do or else is denying others the freedom to form their own personal beliefs. This is not the example God sets for our relationships in loving others.

Some may argue that this leads down a slippery slope to believing whatever the hell we want. How can we say that murder is wrong? Immoral acts seem to me to be provable that they are harmful. If you lie, cheat, steal, murder, etc., you are clearly violating the rights of others. No one’s rights are violated by forming your own personal spiritual beliefs. The fear of God in the Bible was God’s opposition to immorality because of the harm to others; God’s fear was not related to believing in God or supposed truths from the Bible some insist to gain God’s acceptance. I want my kids to fear me as well if thinking of murdering or bullying others. But, fear isn’t my intended avenue for a relationship. Fear is to avoid personal destruction and the destruction of others, but it is my love that I seek to demonstrate for personal and worldly gain.

We must not impose God or any others supposed truths that we are convinced are necessary to be accepted by God.

Such beliefs can be offensive to God. It is suggested one gets into heaven based on a certain set of beliefs found in a Book (Bible). Such beliefs are dependent on interpretations which are fallible. Besides, the majority of people born into this world never had a Bible so to insist God determine one’s destiny on beliefs they could have had is offensive. A loving God isn’t going to judge one when they didn’t truly understand God or God was misrepresented by others. No Book or person was ever meant to replace one listening to God through a relationship.

Your beliefs may not work for others at this point in their life. If your beliefs are working for you great! If God is real, God surely can prove themselves to others at the appropriate time best for them. I don’t mind encouraging others about the hope of a loving God that I have when they have interest. I can honestly not think of a greater delusion to have. God exists or God doesn’t. God created or God didn’t. God can provide life after death to be reunited with our loved ones or God can’t. No one hopes for a tyrant God. The God I know encourages me to be perfect like God which is beneficial in my relationships. But, that is for each to decide.

 

Does God Communicate Clearly Enough?

communicate-clearly

Why doesn’t a supposed loving God make it obvious what beliefs are right or wrong? People who love God aren’t sure what beliefs about God are correct or there wouldn’t be thousands and thousands of different religions or denominations with different doctrines as to what is important to believe. I won’t pretend I can answer for all who feel that if one is sincere in their beliefs about God but wrong, isn’t that on God? I only desire to offer plausible explanations for consideration as to why God doesn’t write in the sky for our morning devotions.

The Bible suggests in the beginning that God communicated much more directly to avoid getting the message wrong.

I am convinced God decision to advise Adam to not partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was an act of love (Gen. 2:17). The tree may have only been used to illustrate the importance of listening to God’s voice then our own. God was suggesting their voice, rather than our voice sometimes, in a world of choices always has our best interest in mind. The first couple hid after failing and God approached them (Gen. 3:8). God may have come to comfort than shame them. We don’t always assume the best when we have failed others.

It is plausible God had to pull back from how God communicated in the beginning, when freedom went awry, for our best interest.

Freedom was necessary so authentic relationships could develop. It isn’t true love if forced. God may have surmised that their continued presence in our lives could create an overwhelming sense of guilt or obligation to obey. Getting in the face of disobedient older children isn’t always the best approach. Obligatory choices don’t always lead to lasting change. In an imperfect world being totally unselfish beings may only be possible when God interferes less and allows greater degrees of independence.

God is accused of approving slavery among the Israelites by allowing laws around the practice of slavery. Why didn’t God simply demand slavery be abolished? God surely wished people during OT times make laws to eliminate slavery. But, long lasting change isn’t always best accomplished by controlling love. The Apostle Paul in the New Testament, much like God with the Israelites, perhaps understood to change society within requires independence. There may be steps necessary to accept God’s perspective – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

Most people can agree on right from wrong, such as lying, stealing, or murder, which suggests God is more of a communicator than believed. Many disagree what beliefs are necessary for life after death, but that wasn’t Jesus’ fault. 

When asked directly about how to have eternal life, Jesus only said to love God and love others as yourself (Lk.10:25-27). How simple is this! Jesus didn’t advise a set of beliefs necessary to be accepted by God. Jesus simply said what we know in our heart is true – striving to live life lovingly – leads to a life worth living forever.

But, so many good people not understand God in the same way!

Some good folks declare you must be baptized to go to heaven. Some say we will burn in Hell and others deny that Hell is real. All such beliefs have one thing in common. They are interpretations of what they think the Bible teaches. Interpretations are fallible yet we claim we are right and you are wrong. I have done it and will probably do it again. What if God had wrote in the sand “Mike, don’t act like this.” I believe my journey, though not always pleasant, was the best path for not reverting back to old ways. Others tell us things that really are in our best interests, but sometimes we must learn on our own. Some of us take longer than others.

I wonder how much this matter of God’s communication would be cleared up if we slayed the idol of certainty.

We can’t know what the right interpretation is. Some could argue we would be better off without the Bible, but God is not responsible for how we handle such stories in our relationships. Those without a Bible may argue they would have been better off with a Bible to confirm feelings having about a Reality greater than themselves. God decision to communicate to as many as possible through human means may have been best for us in the long run in an imperfect world. We can know in our heart Jesus’ main message – love others like we want to be loved. For anything else that doesn’t violate the right of others thus immoral, what if all had the attitude you may be right, I may be right, we may be wrong.

If only we lived by the Law of Love which somehow most know to be central for a better world!

 

Is Every Word Of The Bible Inspired By God?

Good news for those with short attentions spans, as this may be my shortest Post ever. I have written how the Bible isn’t totally useless because a reader has to discern if a writer was letting their own views crept into a text when representing God. See here. It requires some faith that the Bible word for word and sentence for sentence is inspired by God since such a doctrine cannot be proven. We also cannot prove that God inspired others to know over time which Books only should be recognized as Scriptures. It is circular reasoning to use the Bible to prove itself. Besides, II Tim. 3:16 and similar passages are subject to various interpretations as to what Paul was implying when commenting all Scripture is God’s breathed.

Many teachings of the Bible are subject to interpretation, so discernment is necessary since interpretations aren’t infallible. Problems with the Bible could be remedied if we would consider one another’s opinion gracefully, so to work out our own convictions. I believe we can say the most likely interpretation is that which conveys God’s ways or morals as the same as perfect human morals. The Bible says be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48), but such statements are meaningless unless we can know what perfection is. God cannot be perfect if hypocritical by saying “do as I say, not what I do.” God is morally perfect humanly speaking. I am convinced God’s hand is involved in the Bible because so many have been positively inspired. Read with discernment as to what passages may be more the writer recording how they understand God at that moment. Jesus promised to leave us God’s spirit, not the Bible, to guide us (Jn. 14:16).

Do I Really Have To Thank God For The Bad Shit?

Okay, I admit I used salty language to see if you might more likely read this. Admit it! You were more inclined to open this Post because of it 🙂 God can get a bad rap sometimes because of what we say God requires of us. Now, if you are in the habit of thanking God for the horrible stuff in your life and it helps, by all means don’t change. But, you may be like me. The more God makes sense to me the better the relationship. Do we really have to thank God for all our suffering and the tragedies that seem to happen on a daily basis in our world?

We often quote the Bible as if written one sentence at a time. Imagine if someone pulled a sentence out of a letter you wrote and made a mountain out of a molehill. Writers always assume readers will use discernment for their own individual circumstances. 

Jesus said turn the other cheek but He didn’t expect women to continue to suffer abuse at the hands of a man. I have written that partners should treat one another like best friends. But, if your partner continually betrays you, you may need to stop viewing them as a friend to protect yourself. You aren’t necessarily doing them a favor by enabling this behavior to continue.

The Apostle Paul wrote: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thess. 5:18). Paul goes on to say to reject whatever is harmful (v. 22). Should I stop and express gratitude for extreme temptations before I run like Hell? Paul says in the same context to warn those who are idle and disruptive. Do I have to thank God for their behavior before lovingly confronting them? Must those abused thank God for their abuse when the guilty continue to lie and claim that they are innocent of such horrible behaviors?

Some when told they must thank God for suffering in their life may assume their suffering is some divine plan. This is no biblical evidence that God is the cause of all good and bad things in our life. 

There may be some benefits from time to time thanking God for certain difficult circumstances. Sometimes I am better equipped to help one in their suffering because I have walked in their shoes. Failing at reaching my goals can lead to a deeper appreciation once I experience success. I may be thankful God is by my side in difficult times, but I don’t necessarily have to think God plans or desires such times.

Do I have to thank God for all bad things to be truly godly?

Each must decide what works for them to remain encouraged and steadfast. Some feel more supported by their Creator when having the following conversation with God: “God, I know you didn’t cause or want me to experience this tragedy in my life. I know shit happens in a free world. Thank you for helping me to somehow turn a negative into a positive by persevering.  Help me to control those things that I can control. Please stay with me always and give me wisdom how to handle each step of this journey.

 

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