Monday, September 24, 2012

Election Time... You don't HAVE to vote for the lesser of two evils...

A lot of times, we forget about the third party at election time. It's either Dem or Republican, and a lot of times it's whichever one we feel is the "lesser of two evils." How about considering a candidate without all sorts of negative propaganda coming from his site and supporters?

 The fact that so many others say they have no idea who Gary Johnson is demonstrates the issue with the presidential election in our country. A lot of people feel like they are wasting their vote going Libertarian so they don't do it... but if enough people "wasted" that vote, the guy might have a shot. They wouldn't even let him debate - what are they so afraid of??? People might like what he has to say???

Lie #1: “This is a two-party system.”
Nothing in the US Constitution limits the number of political parties. Democracy means free participation, in the party of your choice. 
Lie #2: “Green candidates steal votes from Democrats”
Greens will continue to affect election outcomes - and sometimes win. But Greens have no power to steal votes from Democratic candidates, because no candidate owns anyone’s vote except for his or her own. 
Lie #3: “If Nader hadn’t run, everyone who voted for him would have voted for Gore!” 
According to exit polls, Nader’s support came from Democrats, Republicans, independents, and many others. Many would not have voted for Gore if Nader hadn’t run, and some voters might not have voted at all.

What is the Difference Between Baptists and Methodists?

So the other day, someone asked what is the difference between Baptists and Methodists? We were having a pretty well rounded conversation about different religions, with people from different faiths, and one who didn't really understand much about Protestant Christianity was curious... Well there are several differences between the two (like women in church leadership roles for example), but this one stuck to me because I've personally experienced it... and in order to not "call out" or deface either one I will not be specific as to which one I'm referencing as I write this post... But if you know me, you'll probably figure it out...

So a funny comparison I heard the other day was that one preaches against it on Sunday, and does it on Monday... while the other doesn't preach against it on Sunday, and does it on Monday. (hahaha) Ok this was meant for humor - we are all human and no one is perfect,  but the main thing I want to take from this point is that one "preaches against it" and the other "doesn't preach against it." What not to do, and what to do.

Personally, having been in both church's I've seen this... one teaches a more negative, what not to do, against this, that, and them sermon... extreme fundamentalist... the other is a more positive this is what we should do and here's how to apply it to our personal lives sermon... it is more progressive.

And looking to the Bible, it's ironic how these two compare, and line up with the old and new testament. In the old testament, human beings were under the mosaic law - they were told what not to do. But this didn't work very well, because people were enticed to rebel against the law. Jesus was sent to earth to die on the cross and being forth a new covenant... teaching us what to do - how to follow him. Leading us, showing us - being our example.

The deeper rooted issue with many of the church's today who use the "against it/what not to do" style is that they are teaching this way to point fingers at others, not to look inside themselves and shape their own lives... look at those atheists... those homosexuals... those liberals... those "fill in the blank." I'm not saying they ALL do this, but sadly a majority of today's church's are doing this. But what they don't realize, is that by judging others they are only making the log in their eye grow larger... as they worry about the splinter in another person's eye.

Personally, I want to learn what to do and how to apply it in my life. I want to learn how to be a true disciple of Christ... And not just to hopefully reach non-believers so that they may see the amazing love and grace of God, but to reach other Christians... who may be strapped to this other way of thinking. After personally coming over from one side to the other (the fundamental Christian to the more progressive Christian), I see how much more free and liberated I am in God's love by focusing on Him and my relationship with him... by focusing on how I can be a better person and love others... not judge them. Honestly, trying to defend the other, more fundamental side was tiring and stressful... sometimes it hurt, and it just didn't feel right. But I know now God was pushing me to rediscover him and myself through a much more positive, loving, and nurturing experience.

The love of God is supposed to be unconditional, forgiving, and forever present. He will not leave or forsake us... he loves us always. And he sent his son to share this love with us, to teach us that this is how we need to treat each other.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Why I'm Proud to be a Member of Harvest - a United Methodist Church

So when I was "confronted" about my views, I was asked what kind of church is this new church we attend, and I told him Methodist... and he said "well that explains it..." First off, my "views" were established long before we came to this church, and represent my personal opinion, not the opinion of any one church - my spiritual growth is one of the reasons we left our old church and came to this one. I feel they fit best with my new-found spirituality and point of view on Christ and the Bible. I know no two people will ever see eye to eye on everything, and the same goes for me finding a church... but I have found the place that I see eye to eye with on the most important thing - positive ministry and spreading Christ's love - not using the Bible to "defend" hate.

I want to share with you what I learned in our Membership class about the United Methodist church, and why it excites me.

"You are a member of God's very own family... and you belong in God's household with every other Christian." Ephesians 2:19

The Mission of Harvest

I am extremely proud to be part of this mission. While I wasn't "unchurched" I didn't grow up in church, and I was definitely "mischurched" before finding Harvest.

Jim had a vision, to "see a tremendous harvest reaped for the Lord in Middle Georgia." He told this amazing story how him and his wife Jennifer were out one day about 10 years ago in Warner Robins, and they were just driving around, not really sure where they were, but stopped in front of a gas station by the Taco Bell off 41 and 96 because they felt God's presence strongly there. Later, they were talking with their pastor about starting a church in middle Georgia, and the pastor told them they already had surveyed a place, they probably didn't know it not being from WR, to put a new church. Jim pressed and asked him where it was... and he told him well it was near a gas station and Taco Bell off the intersection of 41 and 96 in Houston County....
It is amazing how God works. Jim's visions continues - he "wants to see thousands of people won to Christ and discipled. He forsaw home Bible studies throughout Houston County - each group taught by a qualified lay leader."

"He saw a church that is honest and genuine with people. Accepting them where they are but loving them enough to not let them stay that way. A church which does things in an excellent way. One which exalts the Lord by teaching and preaching the Scriptures. A church which equips people by teaching them the Word and helping them discover and use their gifts and talents given by God. A church with a process, a system, and a strategy to intentionally win people for Christ and then help them grow in maturity."

What makes this proposal of Jim's so amazing is that he's doing it. They purposefully dress down and use a contemporary method of worship that is joyful and full of celebration. The music is upbeat and mood lifting - making people genuinely glad to be there (I know from personal experience!) The style of worship is "seeker sensitive" meaning sensitive to people who may not know Christ. "Traditional" worship music was contemporary to the time it was written and sung... the old Hymns ministered to the people of those times. But now different contemporary music is what reaches people of this time.

Harvest genuinely welcomes and wants the seeker, the unchurched, the non-believer to come. And they show it in their worship, their ministry, their sermons, their community groups... Christ's teachings are applied all throughout this church.
Photo: "The view is better up here. Rise above hate, resentment and intolerance." — written and designed by Dodinsky's Garden of Thoughts (do check out his page).

♥ You can also share this on Pinterest:

I now understand why I felt so much more comfortable at Union Chapel back in Muncie when we went... I now have a better understanding of the Methodist mission and heritage... and it's awesome - it represents Christ. I now understand what God has been trying to show me for so long. And I'm now in a place where I find confirmation regularly. Not in a place where I question my thoughts and the difference of those thoughts from the views of the church... but in a place where I've started learning on my own accord what the Bible really teaches, and the church matches up to it.

It is Not "Us" vs. "Them"...

As Christians it is important that we know that God loves everyone unconditionally. And that God wants us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, and even love our enemies no matter how difficult. And even if that neighbor or enemy doesn't believe in God, or follows a different religion, it is not "us" vs."them."

I've been in enough church's where I've heard the preachers up in the pulpit going on about atheists, homosexuals, Muslims, or "fill in the blank"... and with that mentality of "us vs. them." I've seen it enough times to know it exists more than it should. And then they wonder why they aren't "winning" people over to Christ... why their congregations aren't growing... I've been in church's full of petty people, where it just felt like high school all over again... Ignored and shunned for my mistakes in life... I didn't "fit in" with the crowd. I've seen it so much that it was amazing to me, an absolute shock, to sit it a church where this didn't happen... where it was the total opposite...

Teaching us to apply scripture in our personal lives... to forgive over and over again, not just for the person needing the forgiving, but for our personal healing... and reaching out to the possibility of non-believers sitting in the congregation that morning, and welcoming them, expressing that they are loved and not preaching against them, but showing them what a Christian is supposed to look like. And this church is growing and people are coming to Christ. And it is because they want people to know who Christ really is. They want to reach people and let them know they are loved.

It is not up to us to choose who "belongs" - as Christ followers we are supposed to love, welcome, and accept everyone. By doing so, applying Christ's teachings to our lives, and showing through our actions what a Christian is supposed to look like, that is how others find Christ... through us.

This is one of the hardest ones to apply. God wants us to forgive, because he has forgiven us. But when people do us wrong it hurts, and it's hard to just forgive and let live. But even if you have to forgive one person 77 times, forgive them. It may take a while to forget, but eventually it won't bother you any more. And by forgiving you will be set free.

I  can hold a grudge with the best of them... but holding a grudge is like a delicious poison... at first revenge seems like it'd be so good. You go over in you head what you should of said to put them in their place... you think about how to get them back. But this only makes things worse. It eats at you. If you are still holding a grudge against someone who hurt you today, let it go and strive to forgive them. A lot of time it is just petty stuff, and even if it isn't petty, you've got to forgive because Christ forgives every one of us for every stupid thing we do.

Friday, September 14, 2012

How Can You Ignore What is Written?

So the other day, I was confronted about why I believe what I believe in regards to marriage equality. I was told that for believing this way, for not believing in a certain religious doctrine or creed, I'm endangering myself to enter heaven. There are several (very biblical) reasons why this method of thinking is incorrect, and I will be quoting directly from scripture to show this... this is not just my opinion, this is what the bible is trying to teach us in it's original, intended context. No cherry picking - feel free to read deeper into these passages and verify, I'm providing the most relevant sections. This is not based on another human being's opinion - this is based on my personal study of the Bible and my findings.

1. Do not use scripture to point fingers at others. Any form of judging another for sin (or your perception of their sin) is "judging hypocritically" because we all sin, we all fall short, and no sin is bigger than another. - Romans 2 (The Message Bible):

Those people (the people Paul told about in Chapter 1 who were worshiping idols and living in sin) are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. But God isn’t so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you’ve done.
3-4 You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.

2. Religion doesn't save you -Still in Romans 2:

17-24 If you’re brought up Jewish, don’t assume that you can lean back in the arms of your religion and take it easy, feeling smug because you’re an insider to God’s revelation, a connoisseur of the best things of God, informed on the latest doctrines! I have a special word of caution for you who are sure that you have it all together yourselves and, because you know God’s revealed Word inside and out, feel qualified to guide others through their blind alleys and dark nights and confused emotions to God. While you are guiding others, who is going to guide you? I’m quite serious. While preaching “Don’t steal!” are you going to rob people blind? Who would suspect you? The same with adultery. The same with idolatry. You can get by with almost anything if you front it with eloquent talk about God and his law. The line from Scripture, “It’s because of you Jews that the outsiders are down on God,” shows it’s an old problem that isn’t going to go away.
25-29 Circumcision, the surgical ritual that marks you as a Jew, is great if you live in accord with God’s law. But if you don’t, it’s worse than not being circumcised. The reverse is also true: The uncircumcised who keep God’s ways are as good as the circumcised—in fact, better. Better to keep God’s law uncircumcised than break it circumcised. Don’t you see: It’s not the cut of a knife that makes a Jew. You become a Jew by who you are. It’s the mark of God on your heart, not of a knife on your skin, that makes a Jew. And recognition comes from God, not legalistic critics.

3. The scriptures are addressed to us (the readers, the believers) in the first place - Romans 3 (this is down around vs 18-20)

This makes it clear, doesn’t it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else? Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.

4. Technically I am religious - I am a progressive Christian (progressive faith defined here). But even the non-religious, but whom have faith in God will enter the kingdom of heaven. Faith does not equal religion: Romans 4 (vs 8-9)

Do you think for a minute that this blessing is only pronounced over those of us who keep our religious ways and are circumcised? Or do you think it possible that the blessing could be given to those who never even heard of our ways, who were never brought up in the disciplines of God? We all agree, don’t we, that it was by embracing what God did for him that Abraham was declared fit before God?

10-11 Now think: Was that declaration made before or after he was marked by the covenant rite of circumcision? That’s right, before he was marked. That means that he underwent circumcision as evidence and confirmation of what God had done long before to bring him into this acceptable standing with himself, an act of God he had embraced with his whole life.

5. You can't quote the old law (I.E. Leviticus, the verse regarding "abomination" - which there are also linguistic issues with this verse that aren't really relevant) because when Jesus went to the cross he cancelled the old law code and brought forth a new covenant. Book of Romans, Galatians, and Corinthians. I'm not going to paste all of these, because well, it's A LOT - just go read these books. But here's one from Romans 7:

4-6 So, my friends, this is something like what has taken place with you. When Christ died he took that entire rule-dominated way of life down with him and left it in the tomb, leaving you free to “marry” a resurrection life and bear “offspring” of faith for God. For as long as we lived that old way of life, doing whatever we felt we could get away with, sin was calling most of the shots as the old law code hemmed us in. And this made us all the more rebellious. In the end, all we had to show for it was miscarriages and stillbirths. But now that we’re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God.

6. I was also warned about the "proper" way to interpret scripture... well I don't cherry pick scripture out of context - this is a fallacy. When I read the bible I read the entire passage/chapter/book as a whole, as it was written, in the context and lesson the writer intended... None of that "oh but this ONE line in the whole bible says so!" Well removing one line from an entire passage could easily change the meaning - and it is sad that so many believe this is the right way to "interpret" scripture. There's nothing to interpret - just read it. For example, Paul's letters - they are letters. So read the entire letter, not just one piece of it. I wouldn't write a letter with the intention for you to only read one line or section - especially if I elaborate further in the next section like Paul does. I don't tell an entire story for you to take one line from it and run with it. And the passages I've been reading to do not blanketly condemn homosexuality - and even if they did, well reread my first three points. I'd have to go clobber verse by clobber verse to show them all, which I am already doing under - this is not complete yet, but it will be. I've been reading and studying these passages closely, I just haven't been able to type up the posts yet. So stay tuned.

So the person's response was that they disagree with me (which means they are disagreeing with scripture, not just me - as I have thoroughly shown) because they've been around a day or two longer. Well just because you've been on this earth longer doesn't mean your beliefs are more right (or wrong) than mine. But when I'm using scripture in depth, in context, to back up my claim like you asked me to, because you believe that scripture holds all the answers in life, you might should consider it more. But by ignoring what I've shown, through scripture, and continuing to condemn a group of people based on your personal beliefs, you are just deceiving & contradicting yourself.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Don't Blame your Spouse for YOUR Porn Issues

First off, (DISCLAIMER) this is not directed toward my husband in any way. In fact it represents what we both have learned from our personal experience, and I hope it will help someone who may be going through a similar issue.

Pornography and addictive video gaming are plaguing our generation. They are being used as scapegoats for people who don't want to fix their problems or deal with reality. And many men are blaming their spouse for their issues... "it is my wife's fault I'm looking at porn (and committing adultery by lusting after other another person) because she doesn't give me enough sex" or "it is my wife's fault I lose myself in video games (and neglect my family, our home, etc) so I don't have to deal with her nagging." And so on...

So the part in italics isn't normally stated by the husband, but it is the reality of the situation. Many men (and even women) of our generation are getting sucked into extreme gaming & the use of internet pornography. It is causing them to neglect their families, their home (leaving all of the housework, raising the kids, etc on the shoulders of the other spouse who may or may not also work), and to lust after another, which according to the Bible, is considered adultery in the eyes of God, and probably in the eyes of the other spouse. From personal experience, I can tell you this is a heavy weight to carry as the spouse of a husband who was addicted to porn and video games. You feel like you are a single parent, and raising an additional child.

Well guys, it's time to grow up. You are married (and may have children) now. You are an adult with responsibilities, and it is time to put away the childish games and support, love, honor, respect, and help your family. It is time to honor & respect your spouse and not look at pornography. Also, it is time to stop these negative habits with you - with our generation - before it is passed on to the next generation (our children.) My husband got into pornography because he found it in his parent's bedroom. My son started reacting negatively with his attitude and wanting to play video games all the time like daddy.

Is this the kind of legacy you want to leave for your children? Technology has it's place and it certainly has been an awesome attribute to society, but just like anything else it can be misused and it can be addicting, but we can choose to not let it effect us negatively.

Also, marriage and relationships are not all about sex. Most women want way more out of their marriage and life than sex. When a man is constantly nagging for more sex, the same as when a woman nags for them to do the dishes, the nagging doesn't make them want to do it. Love is what allows the other spouse to want to do things for the you. Belittling them or degrading them for sex is not love. Your spouse may get to the point she feels all you want is sex and you only do things to get it. Well here's my advice: JUST STOP. It's time to evolve... you are not an animal. You are not just here to get some and reproduce. Marriage is about commitment, friendship, intimacy (which does not mean sex), and unconditional love. Sex is a beautiful thing in marriage, but when it feels like the main focus, it gets distorted. And a lot of times, sex is damaged in a marriage because of previous sex outside of the marriage. That sex was not about commitment or true intimacy or love. It was about feeling good.

There is a reason God intended for us to love, marry, and then have sex - it is because sex outside of commitment and true love can hurt. It can cause self-esteem issues and make us have regrets. God doesn't want us to feel that way - he loves us unconditionally and he wants us to love the way he loves because it feels good to truly love.

Do not blame your spouse (or anyone else) for your porn or excessive gaming issues. It is your personal choice and responsibility to pick up the game controller or navigate to a trashy website. Only you can change yourself. It may take some self discipline and trust in God, but you can change  with God's help if you seek it. You cannot change your spouse, and your  spouse cannot change you. You have to be willing to change for you and for God, and in turn your spouse will most likely see these changes and want to change for the better as well. When you truly have God in your life and you live your faith (walk the talk) others will want to know what it is that makes you so happy, loving, etc. And they will want to be a part of it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why You Can't Quote the Old Testament to Condemn Homosexuality

So as I've gotten further and deeper into my study I've learned the following:

1. God loves everyone. His love is unconditional and it doesn't just apply to the religious. My favorite example of God's teaching of unconditional love is the story of Hosea.

2. Religion will not save you - in fact a person who professes faith in God and asks for salvation, but does not follow a specific religion before they die, will enter heaven. Christ's death on the cross insured this. This is in Romans.

3. When Jesus died on the cross, he saved us from sin and death, and from the code of the old law. He established a new covenant. To quote a fellow blogger, "My response to the passages in Leviticus (The Old Testament) is more like the solution to the Gordian Knot, which was a large, hopelessly tangled knot, impossible to unravel. Alexander the Great solved the knot, not by disentangling it, but by cutting it in two with his sword.
Declaring the cancellation of the Law (from Romans and Galatians) is not only the truth that Paul taught, it also prevents us from getting bogged down in endless discussions of word meanings, culture, etc." Ron Goetz

# 3 is the main reason why it is insignificant and meaningless to quote OT Law to condemn homosexuality. Instead of picking and choosing which parts of the law would stay and go, Jesus just cancelled it completely and replaced it with his new covenant. (This is covered in great depth in Romans, as well as Galatians.)

While these verses can also be approached linguistically - there are issues with the translation, I'll use Leviticus for an example, but this is also pointless because Christ's death made OT Law obsolete: "First, this passage condemns gay ritual sex in a Pagan temple, but the misinterpretation is stating simply that “a man should not lie with another woman” when a more accurate translation of the original text is “males having sex in a woman’s bed.” Also “abomination” or “enormous sin” is also a poor translation of the Hebrew word, which actually means ”ritually unclean” or "taboo.""

If we're going to use the Old Law Code to support anti-homosexual points, then by deliberately applying the OT law to our lives (or in this case, the lives of other's, which is also against scripture) and placing ourselves back under it's control, it is said to be "falling from grace." In spite of this, there have always been those who insist that the Mosaic Law, at least the Ten Commandments, are still in force for the Christian. To clarify - the Ten Commandments are still in force, because Jesus repeats each one of them within the New Testament, making them a part of the new covenant. But the old Mosaic Law has been cancelled out by Christ's death and resurrection. He updates us with a new covenant, or "law", regarding our duties towards God, other human beings, and ourselves.

Life on God's Terms - Romans 8

So we left off in Chapter 7 where Paul was speaking, in his letter to the Romans, about how Christ's new covenant gives us a clean slate and saves us from the old ways, but gives us a new way.

Chapter 8 continues with this same concept. That because of Christ, the fateful dilemma is resolved - there isn't a question of "one way or the other"... A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. (Romans 8:2 The Message)

God didn't deal with the problem mankind was dealing with lightly. He took it upon himself to come to earth in the form of man. The law code had been fractured by human nature... and so it in itself could not have done what Jesus did for us, in order to set things right.

The old law was like a band-aid, but it didn't deeply heal sin. So now instead of being tied to the law code, we simply embrace what the spirit is doing in us. Personally, what I see is this: there are a lot of Christians out there still trying to tie in the old law to life - and no so much their life, but to the lives of others... but the thing is, we are all saved by Christ from the ways of the old law code and from the death of sin. As Christians, we believe in Jesus, and his covenant that he brought forth by his death. And that is what we should be applying, not the old laws. And we should focus on applying it in our own lives, not worry about how someone else applies it in their's. "Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God!" (Romans 8:5)

If we have accepted God into our lives, we shouldn't be self-focused... we should be thinking of Him and living life on his terms. There is no need to do-it-yourself, when you have God to do it for you. We have inherited what Christ has done for us. He will be with us through the hard times, and through the good times. I've been personally seeing this lately... when I finally gave myself, my family, my marriage over to God and let him drive, it just seemed so much better. Now that I'm heading down the right path in my life and letting go of my self, God is raining his blessings, and he's showing me how to live with him in my heart and walking beside me daily. How to love others and how to focus on having a loving spirit, Christ's spirit, dwelling inside of me and how to show it.

I'm far from perfect, and as I'm discovering a new point of view and a new life, I want to share it, but at times I struggle with how. And of course I'm getting a lot of  recourse from people who think I'm wrong for the way I look at certain things now, but if I'm going to look at one thing through the loving spirit of Christ, I have to look at all things that way. I've seen so many Christians walk around with the WWJD bracelet... but we really have to stop ourselves, every time we are faced with a choice or question, and ask God. We have to turn to him and let him guide our answer and our decisions. Not our misguided personal agendas.
And even though this world is sometimes difficult, confusing, painful, and even irritating... God is there with us through it, and is within us. And we don't always know what or how to pray - but God knows our heart, he lives in our heart, not on our lips or within our minds... He hears what is unspoken and understands what is not explained... "Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good." (Romans 8:27-28)

And no matter what the world, or life throws at us, it doesn't matter. With God on our side, we can't lose. "Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture." (Romans 8:39) None of it should even faze us... through faith in Christ, we are God's chosen people.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Why Do You Think the Way You Think?

Many people wonder why someone is the way they are. Well, everyone's life is a journey, and everyone walks different paths. I am the way I am because of the thing I've gone through in life, and the same goes for anyone else.

Many may wonder why I feel so strongly the way I do about religion, especially Christianity (the extreme religious part of it.) I didn't necessarily "grow up in church" - but I was sent to church's or drug to church's. I was always the outcast even at church. The church I remember spending the most time in, and dreading it every time because I knew I'd just be alone and bored, was my stepdad's church. But I've seen it in other church's as I've grown up.

I feel the way I do about these so-called Christians because I got a regular dose of them growing up, and even as a young adult. I was bullied daily in school by a large sum of the student body for no apparent reason. And a large sum of those kids claimed to be Christian. I was never befriended or had anyone try to love me in many of the church's I attended growing up. My mom tried to get me into a private Christian school in our town because of the crap I was dealing with in public school... I got turned away, and their reason was my mom wasn't a regular church attendee. Not that she wasn't a believer mind you, she just didn't attend church regularly.

So because of what I went through growing up, I have been able to open my mind to other people who deal with the same issues - being bullied, harassed, or criticized by the Christian-right. Being turned away by these people because they don't "fit" their "Christian" criteria. Well I know now that Jesus will never turn me or anyone else away.

And I see the kids who have "grown up in church" and been accepted all their lives... and a l
ot of them have grown into the fundamentalist, the Christian-right we know today. With their "my way or the high way" option. Their "love the sinner, hate the sin" euphemism. And just like in high school, their still the "popular" crowd. True Christians, who try to walk the talk, are the minority. We were stomped on then, and we're stomped on now. If we raise a rebuttal against their point of views, we're laughed at or pushed back... we're automatically wrong, and given no merit whatsoever.

Even though our answers come from the Bible, and are actually within context of the writings, and not just one single verse picked out of the middle of a book and chapter, they hold no value. What they have been told by their teachers, preachers, parents (other human beings) holds way more weight than taking the Bible at it's word and meaning. Frankly, it makes no sense. And it only gets worse when they use their misguided, misinterpreted views of the scriptures to judge or harm others - and that's where I know that their "translation" of the verses are wrong - because Jesus never intended for us to use his words or the words of his disciples or apostles to criticize another or point fingers.

Photo: Life is so much simpler when you check your brain at the door of religion and let others tell you how to think, how to believe, what to wear, how to spend your money, how to love, how to feel, how much sex to have and with who...
I mean it simply is so much easier to live that way then to actually think for yourself, to grow up and get your own hands dirty digging for the truth. But the reward is great once you can sit under your own vine and rest in God, knowing all is truly well and All are safely tucked in His big Heart of Love.
~ Juli Walt 
image by nakedpastorOpening up a book of the bible, going to a random chapter, and picking out a random verse or line to validate your claim is not what it was intended for. Those books, chapters, and passages were written with a point, a lesson. And the lesson comes from reading the whole entire thing, not just one piece. The practice of quoting out of context, or quote mining, is a fallacy - a type of false attribution in which a passage is removed from it's surrounding content in a way that distorts it's intended meaning. This is also known as cherry picking, or suppressing evidence.

And the more I heard this and saw this, the more frustrated and further away from God I got, until he finally said "enough" and got me the heck out of there, and started leading me back to him by showing me his way, his truth, and his light.

The fact is, I think the way I think because I'm stuck in my head... and other people think they way think because they're stuck in their's - and their upbringing, experiences, education (or lack there of), influences, friends, and family have sculpted them so that they think the way they think. One's willingness to open their mind, or stubbornness to keep it closed, is the final piece. We all have had our thoughts and minds shaped into a box - now the question is can we think on our own? Can we think outside the box?

Religion & Faith are Personal, not Institutional

So yesterday I saw a "cause" that said: "Put prayer back in schools to show that American people want their rights back to pray and speak out freely about what their faith is..." (sorry the italicized words are ones I corrected for spelling or grammar...)

(Jesus) Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.” Matthew 22:21 

So first of all, Separation of Church & State (SOCS) do not stop a religious person from praying anywhere, or for speaking out about their faith. SOCS goes hand in hand with freedom of religion - meaning people can still pray in school, but it doesn't force a group prayer of one particular religion onto people who may have different beliefs, or aren't religious at all. And it doesn't stop a group of people from one faith from coming together in their school (IE Meet Me at the Pole) and praying together or hosting a club for their faith for people to willingly join.

Prayer should be personal, not institutionalized. Your faith is personal, and your relationship with God is between you and him, not you and your classmates. Christ's covenant in the NT teaches us that our bodies become the temple of Christ. And in this country, we are free from religious persecution - but so are all other religions. We can pray anywhere we sit, stand, crouch, etc... and no one will stop us. There are church's on every corner. In other countries around the world if you don't follow one specified religion and you are caught, you will be put to death - and there are some Christians in this country who would like to see that happen here! We are not the religious minority as many like to think. However, Christians who follow Christ's teachings and don't spend most of their time passing negative judgement on others for their beliefs or lack there of; or trying to get involved politically to enforce their religion as law are the minority in the Christian faith.

 We will not reach non-believers by forcing our religious doctrines (BTW, which one will we choose? Methodist? Baptist? Roman Catholic?) on others... if you want to reach non-believers, get personal with God. Live YOUR life for God. Apply his principals in YOUR life and act on faith. No one comes to the son unless drawn by the father - and God may use you to draw a non-believer to him, but it will be in His time, and he will use you through your actions, not your words. Also, prayer doesn't even have to be out loud... God hears what is not spoken and understands what is not explained. His love does work on the lips or in the mind, but in the heart.

We live in a country where we have every right to exercise our personal beliefs, not be persecuted for those beliefs, nor have other beliefs shoved upon us - and so does everyone else.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Is God's Freedom, Really Freedom?

So many ask, is the freedom of following God, really freedom? Many think of the scriptures as a list of "do's and don'ts" and they don't really see how this is freedom.

But they aren't really "restrictions" - back during the OT, yes they were law, solid, must follow - not freedom. But through Christ's death on the cross we were saved from the law (along with our sin) and following Christ's covenant is freedom. The covenant is there to guide you down the right path so you will be free...

Our pastor used two really great examples this past Sunday that I wanted to share... One was financial freedom. He grew up hearing about paying his tithe, saving a portion of his money, and then living off the rest... he chose to abide by this - yes there were times it didn't feel like freedom because his friends had more money than him because they weren't giving 10% to the church, or 10% to savings, etc, plus they weren't just living off 100%, then were living off 110, 120 or even 150% with the use of credit cards.... But once he got older, he realized how blessed he'd been by trusting in God. He may not be rolling in the dough, but he has a pretty good life, and is also not in debt (how many of us know debt? Is that freedom???) This one hit home because I've recently devised a plan to get 100% out of debt, pay our tithe, and to live within our means... (this Sunday's sermon was confirmation for me that God is behind it, yet again!) But when we weren't paying our tithe, we were saving some, but we were also in debt up to our eyeballs... struggling to pay off credit cards every month in addition to the mortgage and car payments. In 2 years (maybe less because God is working) we'll be debt free and even with paying our tithe we'll have more money left at the end of the month than we've ever had in our entire lives.

The next example really tugged on my heart. He talked about following the covenant of Christ about not having promiscuous sex before marriage. About how there are some of us (guilty party here) who have had sex with more than one partner before marriage, because it was fun, felt good - felt like freedom! But once you get past that stage of life, have settled down and are married with a family, and you look back - does it really look like freedom? It sure doesn't to me... it looks like mistakes and regret... and it feels like chains tugging on and tying down my heart instead of letting it love freely without the haunting of the past relationships that just ended up hurting. How much more free I would feel if I would have waited for the right person, the one I would marry. So my conclusion is that yes, God's freedom through Christ, is freedom. He will free you from your chains because through faith in him you are forgiven for your past transgressions.

Anyways, I just wanted to share what I've learned this weekend - because I've just started reading in Romans and other NT passages about the freedom we have through Christ - and I also wondered, is this really freedom? But God answered my question this Sunday! God is good.. ALL THE TIME!

Keeping up Appearances is not the "Key" to Christianity

"Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like." James 1:22-24 - The Message
First off, someone said the image to the left is a "weak" analogy because you can't "become" a car... but that's not the point - the point is that you don't "become" a Christian simply by standing in (or sitting, or going to) a church.

This weekend started off the new series "Life Apps" at church, and the sermon was about applying the word to our lives. Many people just "go to church"... and we deceive ourselves by thinking we can just listen in church and that's the end. The Bible was written to guide us in our walk with Christ - while it is not the "final answer", and the true answer is within ourselves, we can't find that answer if we don't apply Christ's basic principles to our lives. Many of us do this naturally, but it doesn't come so easy for all.

A relationship with Christ is a road to self-discovery - but by learning and applying the lessons of the people who came before us (learn from the past, from history) we can save ourselves a lot of time and grief instead of learning the hard way.

Being a Christian is not about keeping up appearances by attending church every week. Being a Christian means to follow Christ - to let him live in and lead your heart. Christ came to earth to save us, but also to set the example we are supposed to follow on how we treat others. In fact, when Christ came to earth and died for our sins, he saved us from the old law, and brought a new covenant that changed the "physical temple" (or church) to our hearts and bodies as the temple of God. So going to a physical place does not make you a Christian.

The key here is to learn the word on your own accord and to apply it to your life. To act on what you hear, and to put your faith into action. You can learn all the right words, know the bible inside and out, but until you do something about it, talking about faith doesn't indicate that you really have it. (James 2:14) God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense. (James 2:17)

"Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world." James 1:26-27

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Can Trust be Restored in a Damaged Relationship?

God is showing me, slowly, that trust can be repaired once broken. It takes time, and effort, and there may even be some pitfalls. My husband is still learning how to communicate with me, as I am learning to better communicate with him.

I still have a hard time believing his word sometimes. But he seems adamant that he only looked at the porn as a test, to see how far he'd come, and that he wasn't aroused by it. That's not the only part of the conversation we had, but that is his final answer.

I'm still spinning everything that was said in my head... when I confronted him originally, he said he just "slipped" and seemed very upset that he'd "faltered"... but then once he left for the trip and we got on the phone, the story changed to he was testing himself, but when I asked him what he had done, he froze... which in my mind makes no sense at all - him slipping and faltering is worse than just testing himself and not feeling anything as a result... So why say the worse of the two out of panic?

Because now the other story looks like a cover up, in my mind. I hate not being able to read people's minds. I'll tell you what if only I could hear what people are actually thinking instead of saying.

Now there is the possibility Adam could be mildly bipolar as it is genetic... he doesn't seem to have it anywhere near the level his mom, but he does seem to have slight ups and downs that seem to be beyond the normal level of regular mood swings. And one thing I've learned about bipolar is that when presented with a stressful situation, the more "natural" result is for the person to lie (no matter how silly or backwards the lie is.)

God is leading us to find out more. To seek counseling and medical council regarding the possibility of bipolar disorder. I thought we were doing ok without some form of counseling, but we were obviously fooling ourselves.

So please pray for us as we continue to rebuild the broken trust and our damaged marriage. I read something the other day about someone asking a couple how they stayed together so long (something like 60 years) and they said "back in our day, if something was broken, we fixed it, not threw it away and got a new one..."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How to Make your Woman Feel Worthless...

Photo: Share And Inspire Others. <3<3

Inspire Your Spirit With Best Inspirational, Motivational and Romantic Thoughts <3<3 

See moreLet her find photos of naked women with fictitious bods on the computer. Porn is the #2 cause of divorce (infidelity). And yes, it is indeed infidelity even though not everyone will see it that way. Lusting after another woman is considered adultery. And looking at pornography is lusting.

A lot of self respecting women see porn as an issue. They do not want that kind of trash in their marriage. It makes a woman feel degraded, worthless, like she's never going to be enough and compare to those women with fake breast implants and ass jobs.

Want to know how to damage your marriage further? Stop the porn and make it look like you've really changed, work to re-earn your spouse's trust, and then, right when you actually start making some progress, crush it again. You know the saying - trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair. Well what about when they keep breaking it? Over and over. How do you get yourself back from 7 years of broken trust? You give him the chance to change, and he blows it... so what are you supposed to do next?

 Fool me once, shame on you... fool me twice, shame on me. Sorry, this post is really just a vent. The shock of finding more porn on my computer from my husband is still sinking in. After 3 months of trying to make things work, of trying to make repairs. Of thinking we were past this. They say it takes 6 weeks to start a new habit - well we were 15 weeks in, so what now?

I don't know where to turn next. One step forward, and like 1000 steps back. It was hard enough to say "yes, let's fix this" the first time. But at the same time I feel like I've come too far in my spiritual life, in my personal life, to just give up all over again.

I'm not saying I'm just going to let it go and keep going like nothing happened, but I'm not saying I quit either. I have a few days to clear my head while he's out of town with work. So I'm starting there. My heart feels like it's shattered into a million pieces... I'm going to try and pick up the pieces, but I don't know if I can put it all back together this time. I'm giving it to God, because only he can repair something so broken.