Saturday, January 03, 2015

The problem with "moral" Christians


I don't know who Lex Looper is (only that he has a twitter popular twitter account but I agree with the statement in this meme. This is why I state that Christianity is not about being moral. It is about being like Jesus. Morality is based on societal acceptance while believing in Jesus is based on loving God and others. Morality places whomever's standard is the most powerful while love is bound by no laws. The call of Love is one of ethics and not "being moral". It is about living the ethics of love and placing others before yourself. Just because it is legal does not make it ethical or loving.

1Cor. 13:8   Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit.  9 We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete.  10 But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

1Cor. 13:11   When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

1Cor. 13:12   We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

1Cor. 13:13   But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Gal. 5:22   But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Responsibility as a believer: How to end evil


I came to realize a while back that often we blame God for things and have forgotten He created us in His image to represent HIm. So, were do prison born babies or sex slaves fit into that idea? No where. However, who is to blame. We are. God is not to blame for what we do. In fact, God forgave us of these atrocities so that we could have a relationship with Him and restore us to what we were created to be. 

We are called to love God and love humanity. Love does not coerce or enslave others. Love does not starve or kill... BTW atheists usually end their argument with me when I say this. God gave us to end evil and we are the issue when we keep evil alive instead of ending it and loving others as He commanded. 

Taking responsibility is part of the answer the other is stop doing the evil that we hold so dear in our own hearts. To me, God is not to blame as He created us as good. We chose to do evil instead of good and that is what entrapped us since Adam and Eve. God gave Adam and Eve over to their delusion of separation and lie that God would not forgive and set things right. Now, with Jesus, who took away out sin, we have nothing left but to choose to believe in Jesus and see the truth of what we are and what we do and end it and return to loving God as He loved us and then loving others as we have been loved. In that way evil loses.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sad news today... remembering Brother Smethers

It seems like such a long time ago but around 2005 I was ordained through the United Christian Ministries International. I was trying to start at church here in Billings and did some research on different organizations that would ordain me for ministry. The biggest reason was to be accountable to someone in my venture.

Long story short, I decided that I no longer needed the ordination and sort of let it go. I made friends with a guy on Facebook who let me know that the head of UCMI had died in June. I am sort of sad as since his death the website is gone. I did make a few friends there so to see part of my past (in a way) gone. Here is Brother Smethers's obituary. http://hosting-24048.tributes.com/obituary/show/Steven-B.-Smethers-101459106 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Am I the only one that sees this?


1. A man is selling single cigarettes on the street and is confronted by police who in the situation choke him to death.[1]

2. People are upset as to how this tragic situation is handled and create signs and t-shirts saying, "I can't breathe". [2]

3. Police of the NYPD wear t-shirts saying, "I can breathe". One is asked what they meant by it. "If the man had not resisted arrest he would not have been choked and would still be breathing.[3]

4. Two police have just been assassinated in NYC. [4]

5. To add to this stupidity the chief of police stated, "I hope there are marches for these two officers like there was for the others." I am like WHAT? Is he that stupid? I agree there should be something to honor the officers. Of course, now people are asking for an apology for his stupid statement. [5]

Does anyone get this? Is the NYPD (as well as other PD around the US) this stupid? Why not apologize for a sad situation where a life is lost EVEN IF YOU MAY BE RIGHT. I just see this is not the end-- that there is going to be more escalation of violence toward police in general. I know there are good cops out there--but corruption is making harder for police and the public.

Fan the flames NYPD's finest... fan those flames and get more officers killed. Just apologize for the death of anyone even if it is a clean kill. A life is a life, black, white, red, yellow, brown, civilian, or police officer. I am one American that fears the police more than I do any terrorist. Do you think that is crazy? Do you realize you re eight times more likely to die in the hands of a police officer that from a terrorist? [6]

No one has to die if people just stopped to think instead of seek to harm others. This country is so polarized that it is only "either/or", but it is not only "either/or"... all it takes is some common sense and respect for others. How can we change this America?





Monday, December 08, 2014

The problem with OUR experience: Love, God, and Science





I have come to believe this is not the world that God created. OK. While God created it, we have become mad with our sights on ourselves. We lost sight of the true creation and creator. We have fallen into a mental illness that separates us from reality. I call this the insanity of humanity. We want to cover our illness with anything that we see comforts us. This means that even religion that people use to buffer our failings by works as we attempt to appease a god that we perceives hates us for our failings.

We also go so far as to say, “God is not real” as we puff up our pride and arrogance and relish the idea that we are so much like a god we know everything. That is called delusion and it is a mental illness. If someone were to say to you, “I am God” or even, “I am a god” you would assume he or she are insane. I know I would. However many do this every day when they proclaim there is no God. The delusion they experience is the non-realization that they are no God as they are finite beings who have a limited knowledge as to what is scientifically known. Not only is there knowledge limited by what they scientifically do not know, but by his or her ability to understand things like love.

If there is not God, there is no love. Love would only be a chemical reaction in the brain that makes you desire sex. How romantic is that? Yes, I would be reduced to some chemical reaction in my brain and love would not be a reality. The logical reasoning that there is no God reduces love to nothing. Love become no more a reason to do good for others, but only a functional adaptation to procreate. All motives are selfish as they come from our own desires that the chemicals in our brain created.

The bible states, “God is love.”, and every person has an innate desire to be loved. [1] Children die from lack of loving contact. [2] The latter is a scientific and observable fact. The only reason we love others is that we once were loved. While some may say that is a learned process, it still does not explain what love is. Science cannot explain what love is. It can tell you the physical and chemical reactions that may cause a ‘love” response, but it cannot explain what love really is. Love must be experienced to be understood. For example, a frog can be dissected and science can tell you that a frog has a heart, lungs, and other parts. However, is that all a frog is? Tell a boy or girl who are at a pond that a frog is just some biological parts as they chase the frog and experience what a frog is.

There is also more to our life than mere experience. One person’s experience is the same and yet also different from another. Imagine as humans our experience is that the world is round. However, if we were a muon traveling faster than the speed of light we would experience the world as flat. Why then is our own experience greater than another’s is? The video that is posted with this blog post asks that same question. [3] If our own experience can be questionable then to state with certainty “there is no God”, become delusional. To say there is love also become as delusional without there being a way to experience it. I found love when God found me. I sought out love but found there was more pain than love. Love covered pain. Being loved taught me truly to love others. The thing that I found true is that without God, love is just a chemical reaction in the brain that stimulates my sexual desires... Damn, ain't that romantic?

However, when I was found by God and began to understand His Grace, love became real to me. Love is real and without God, it means nothing. I might as well be a dog in heat but instead, love compels me to tell my story of faith, love, mercy, grace, and redemption. For me, love has no meaning without God. An atheist wants to take that away. Love over experiential science? While science is great, people need love over the limitations of science.

 I am not saying the earth is flat, but then again, it is only a matter of perspective... I am not saying God's existence is provable, but then again, that is a matter of relationship and experience through faith. My experience states God is real. 





[1] 1 John 4:16
[2] Szalavitz, Maia. Psychology Today. 6 1, 2010. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/born-love/201003/touching-empathy (accessed 12 8, 2014). 
[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNqNnUJVcVs&feature=youtu.be

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Some tips on using social media


       
This article does a good job at explaining how to build a good foundation for your social media use. 
Personally, I would rather have a few great people to interact with than thousands of followers for the sake of numbers. Social media is not about how many people follow you, but how much those people help grow as a person. Some people may have thousands of followers and if they never posted again, no one would miss them. That shows the shallowness of numbers. However, some people can have few numbers and add depth of quality to your media stream. 
Different social media forums have different styles and get different results. One needs to tailor their posts to fit the forum and audience. While Twitter is great for ideas, news, and casual exchanges, it is weak as far as real discussion. Other forums allow more depth and intimacy in the way you can communicate your ideas and thoughts. Whether you are a fan of FB, G+, or a blogger (or any other social media), look for ways to draw others deeper into conversation. By drawing others into a deeper conversation, your ideas and thought will be more fully appreciated. In addition, true friendships can start.
For me, I have worked hard at making Facebook my "safe" social media. This means making the hard choices sometimes in blocking or unfriending people. Over the years, I have tried to make Facebook the place where I can express myself and not have a ton of judgment come my way. While some may accuse me of making an echo chamber that is far from true. I do have many people I disagree with. The key is to keep the people who discuss and do not argue or do name-calling. I will be quick to unfriend or block anyone who is a bully.
Google+ is more of a free market for me. G+ is a place that I most probably allow myself to take the most beatings. I tend to post public that allows anyone to interact with my post. I have been poked fun by atheists and other religions However; it keeps me on my toes and ready to have a real discussion when it happens. If someone is way out of hand, I will call "Troll" and block him or her. Again, abuse in not tolerated, but discussions from other points of view are desired. 
Personally, I have given up on sites like Myspace or a few others I have signed up with over the years. I do think there have been some great sites, but sometimes there just is no audience there. Truthfully, after viewing a list of social media sites, there is just no way to keep up with them all so choose wisely as to which ones help promote your ideas the best. 
My examples in how I used Facebook and Google+ may be different from your own. In fact, some people say that the opposite is true as far as my example. Likewise, I do on occasion use Klout.com and LinkIn.com though I do limited posting at the latter. The bottom line is having fun and experiment. Remember, trolls will roll you wherever you go but you have the choice as to whether they bother you or not. All this also takes time, but in the end, you will not waste money by paying someone who guarantees thousands of followers instantly. You will find that in time, your social media sites will be a place to grow as a person by interacting with others in a deeper level. 

Some fleeting thoughts around the question of evil



 Some fleeting thoughts around the question of evil
              First off, this was taken from my side of a conversation on Google+. I tried to edit it to make sense. I hope that it does.I have heard this question many times. 

“There is no way an omniscient and omnipotent god would have to kill people to do away with evil.”

             There is some bad theology you there and you address it well, however, there is good theology that gives good answers to your points. The sad thing is most people tend toward the bad theology and miss the big picture that the Bible is showing. Most of the issues you bring out are humans being religious instead of seeking a relationship with God. Instead, they desired to serve God by keeping Laws that were designed to separate believers in the One True God from pagan and idolatrous beliefs.
The story of the bible is often the retelling of the same story of the unfaithfulness of humanity and the faithfulness of the One True God. Often, if the scripture is read for what it states instead of what someone says it say, it tells a very fascinating story of God allowing man to choose to be god-like in the quest of good and evil while faithfully stating that the only true way of knowing is to know the One True God. Again, sadly, many misread and misapply passages and in the end misunderstand what the Bible is showing us.
I do not believe I will change an atheist /agnostic’s mind in any way and do appreciate someone who can have an actual discussion about God without invoking fairies and elves. I do get what they are saying as to things in the bible that may not match up with history, as we understand it. Believe me, when the bible is understood only as morality is becomes arbitrary. Morality is arbitrary as it depends on the cultural ideas. The bible however is not based on morality, but ethics. The difference is like this, “Do not lie.” That is a moral issue. So normally, you or I will not tell a lie. However, you or I have Jews (or other humans) in our house and someone knocks on the door asking if you have Jews. I would lie and say no as that is a higher law of loving others (Jews or others), and holds to the holding others higher than myself. I did learn this from the Bible.
Historians may not look at a “religious book” for sources, but a good historian will look to understand culture. While the Roman gods may have been fiction, they help historians understand how the Roman Empire worked. So, one cannot have a complete disconnect with history and mythology. If you understand the purpose and reasons, some stories are told as they were. I do not have to believe in actual events to learn the truth the story contains. However, historically, there is a story of a Noah before the biblical record. The retelling of this story is a story pointing to the One True God.
The story of Noah is a perfect example of what I am stating. What if there is a story that shows the One True God in a bad way. However, what if you know that same God in a relational way? You found in your relationship that the idea that the One True God was not out to harm people but to do away with evil. While one Noah story had the One True God as evil, the Hebrew version shares a story of grace and mercy given to a chosen family while evil is wiped from the earth. I might mention that arguments seem circular for some unbelievers. On one hand, an all-powerful God who can stop evil and does not is not all-powerful or loving. One the other a God that wipes out evil and kills people does not love and is therefore evil. This is a catch-22 argument that seems not to recognize it is one way or the other.
In addition, while some archeological digs do not back up the biblical text many do. However, whether the text was written before or after the event does not mean it was not accurate. I might add that there are many historians that do believe the bible as historical accurate (I know that is contrary to whomever you are listening to, but it is true). Whether the walls of Jericho fell before the Hebrews came or after, does not negate the walls of Jericho fell.
The idea in the bible is always, this god is this way; our God is that way and superior (a side note here is that I found atheists use this same argument about truth… I just refer to Truth as a Person named Jesus.)  I may also mention that anyone historically who would mention Jesus, Tacitus, or anyone Jewish writer for example, especially in a negative way, as living, seems very contrary to the idea that Jesus never existed. 
You have to ask yourself. Does the question of good versus evil even mean anything without a Supreme Being who is good or loving? Better yet, as the question of good and evil is a false dichotomy as we find out with the biblical text, and a better question is whether it is of wisdom or folly? Without a God, these questions are meaningless, unless one believes himself to be God. However, then we must as of ourselves, if we are gods, are we all knowing and all-powerful?
While we are powerful in many ways, while using our own limited power, can we restrain from using all our power? If we hold a small animal, we have the power to crush it, but do we still restrain from doing so? Cannot an all-powerful God have the knowing power not to crush something weaker?
In addition, if there is being a creature, and a state of being that is outside of creation, then do you really think a creature can fully understand a Being that is beyond and outside creation? However, what if God in some way limited Himself in a way that was relational… such as allowing Himself to partake in human suffering to show us He understands and desires us to come out of our collective insanity. Being all-powerful means knowing how to restrain as well as being all knowing means understanding that not all will understand that knowing in and of itself must be limited. It is like the saying, “It is not what is said that makes a conversation, but what is understood.”

Now being that humans are a limited finite being how would we know what an omniscient and omnipotent God knows as to what is best? In addition, a person may be limited in a type of theology. I am an open theist of sorts, so see God as allowing humanity to make free will choices and while knowing all the possibilities, will work with the choice humanity makes. Meaning, evil is what man does and God works out the best solution for us... even if it seems cruel. The real question really is; is God through with a New Creation? Maybe we are in process and not finished yet and we cannot understand until we see the finished product. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The collective insanity of humanity


The other day I found this article: Study: Belief in an angry God associated with a variety of mental illnesses It sort of confirmed some of my experience dealing with certain people as well as my own experiences. It also confirmed some ideas I have began to see in the Bible. 


I do not believe that someone becomes mentally ill by believing in an angry God, but rather it exasperates the person's condition. I see that while you may suffer from OCD, the idea that God may not accept you as "clean" and is angry may contribute to the need to have things clean and orderly. 

I have seen on a personal level people who "hatefully" abuse others in the name of love. They seem to think that attacking others is a way to bring them into a right relationship with God. However, if you believe God may just bring the hammer (or strike you with lightening) for your sins, they missed the whole point of the Cross and Resurrection. I began to understand that God was angry with sin in humanity but has never gone back on His proclamation that His creation, humanity, is nothing other than good. 

I have a working theory on how we as humans live in what I call the collective insanity of humanity (catchy huh?). Meaning that there is a reality that is "in Christ" and a false reality we choose to live in by choosing our fallen state instead. The origin of this thought comes from re-reading the "curse" of Adam and Eve as not a punishment, but rather of consequence. God gave Adam and Eve a chance to come clean yet they choose to live in shame instead. 

I also began to realize how this is true as I began to study a family member's illness who possibly has schizophrenia. She lives in a false reality that is "true" to her. She hears the voice that no one else does, thus in her mind it is real. However it is a false reality as there are no real voices to be heard. These observations have set me on some interesting twists in my own theology and how I see many of the stories in the OT as well as the NT. However, it has also opened me up to loving those who suffer mental illness in a deeper way. 

It does seem that often an angry person who believes in an angry, wrathful, God, becomes like the God he or she believes in. It also seems that there is a major impairment in reading comprehension and compassion to the point that the person cannot accept that God could possibly love others if they are not exactly as they believe their God requires. It also seems that he or she has a need to point out worse "sinners" as a means to show that they are not as bad as that in hopes they have a chance at judgment day. Over all, it is a sad condition and my prayers go out for those who suffer in this way.