Archives For Christianity

Surprisingly, many people don’t reject Christianity because they’ve given up on God. Instead, they’ve given up on the people and things that represent God. They don’t hate Jesus, they just become tired of not finding Him within Christian culture.

As Christians, we sometimes mistakenly try to compensate for God by presenting our faith as easier than it really is. We cover up the ugliness and hardship of authentic faith.But while following Christ is beautiful and worthwhile, disappointment, pain, suffering, betrayal and hurt are also a part of life, and Christians aren’t immune or excluded from these horrors. Contrary to a life of ease, comfort and luxury, following Jesus demands sacrifice, honesty, vulnerability, conflict and a lifetime dedicated to loving others. This is really hard—a commitment not meant to be taken lightly….

Yet many churches market Christianity as an easy and painless solution to all life’s problems. Instead of introducing Christianity as a path to having a relationship with God requiring time, energy, work and intense dedication, it becomes a product that promises much without hardly any sacrifice….

In fact, we actually expect things to get favorably better for us. We assume God will shine down divine blessings: salary increases, better parking spaces, health improvements, increased social popularity and championships for our favorite sports teams. We want our faith to work for us—not the other way around.

SOURCE: Christianity is Harder Than We Pretend it is | Stephen Mattson.

I am not going to add a lot to Stephen’s words here, he does a very good job of describing my feeling about being a follower of Jesus. Today’s Christianity just seems to be so watered down from what it was in the beginning. Some within the church even call it a “something for nothing faith”. Jesus’ messages have become so distorted by some of our religious leaders. Folks like Mr. Osteen who tell us Jesus meant for all of us to be millionaires and all we have to do is to send him some money and he will make that happen. Then there are those who make it a “say the correct words and then just sit back and wait”deal. Christianity, if it is practiced in its purest form, and I believe it is meant to be practiced that way,  is hard work and sometimes very difficult to live.  Jesus told us to take care of each other and by that he didn’t mean just people who you agree with from a doctrinal or political point of view. All of us, whether we want to admit it or not, are children of God and we should treat each other that way.

Before Becoming A Christian…

September 21, 2014

2014-09-20_08-08-101) Christ is perfect but “Christianity” is not. Don’t mistake Christian Culture as God, they aren’t the same thing. Churches, pastors, theologians, and other believers will inevitably fail you, but Jesus never will.

2) It’s OK to change your beliefs. You’ll never have Christianity fully figured out. You won’t have an answer for everything. Theology is a journey, a Pilgrim’s Progress. Life, relationships, and experiences form, shape, and change the way you see, experience, and understand God. The disciples didn’t understand God much of the time, and you probably won’t either.

3) Christianity Isn’t Easy. It doesn’t magically fix things, make you more popular, wealthy, or healthier. In reality, it’s not a form of escapism but a lifelong process of dedication, service, sacrifice, and humbly loving others. It’s very, very, very hard, and not for the faint of heart.

4) Christianity Is Complex. Nobody believes the same thing. There are hundreds of denominations. Doctrines, practices, and traditions are as varied as the people that represent them. This diversity of faith should be appreciated and celebrated. The goal of Christianity isn’t conformity, but an honest and intimate relationship with God.

5) Christianity is ultimately about loving God and loving others. It should never be co-opted by a political movement, a religious institution, gaining power, obtaining control, spreading influence, enforcing laws, or becoming rich and famous. It’s about a relationship with God—never let anything supersede this

5 Things You Should Know Before Becoming A Christian.

I am going to do something here that I don’t often do and that is to reblog an entire post from a blogging friend. This one’s name is Stephen Mattson. He is near the top of my blog reading list as he seems to have just the right words to express what I am feeling about so many issues. He is a trained and practicing theologian but I won’t hold that against him. :)

My big complaint is that too many people try to make Christianity a sit back and wait religion but Christ told us he was about anything but that. This list should be read and practiced by all of us who are just approaching it or have been in it for a while.  At times in my life I have almost succumbed to number one.  I took a serious look at Christianity as it seems to be practiced today and found it to be anything but perfect.  That almost turned me away but as Stephen says the institution of Christianity might seem to fail you but Jesus and his words won’t.  That is what keeps me coming back to the well.

 

 

This is a continuation of our study of Thomas Jefferson to discount the belief that he intended the United States to be a Christian nation. He started out and spent much of his life as a deist. That is he believed in the presence of God in the world but did not proclaim it as a Christian presence. Later in life after he was president he undertook a serious study of the Christian Bible and other religious documents.

He took this study to the point of making his own version of the New Testament. Many are confused by the Jefferson Bible. They wonder why he as a faithful Christian would even attempt to redo such a holy document. Below is part of the explanation why he did this: Continue Reading…

This is a post that I have carried over from my other blog at RedLetterLiving. It is about an epiphany I had several years ago about my spiritual beliefs. I wanted to share it with my readers here.

Posted on October 22, 2012 at RedLetterLiving.net

In 1997 Richard Carlson wrote a very popular book entitled Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff…. and it’s all small stuff. In that book he listed one hundred things to make our lives more peaceful. Some of those topics that I took to heart included: Continue Reading…

The title of this post came to me as I was recently reading the book Falling Upward by Richard Bohr.  In this book the author says each of us has two distinct parts of our lives. The first is making the container and the second is filling it with what we were meant to do.  Although I don’t necessarily agree with some parts of this book the thought of having two distinctive parts of your life is thought-provoking for me. It just makes sense.

How much of your life you spend building the container and how much filling it with what you are meant to be varies with each of us. Some probably spend most if not all making the container and then have no time to actually fill it.  While others build their container very early in life and then have more time to do what they were meant to do.

I personally believe that I am probably one of the first group. I grappled with who I was (i.e. my container) for many years. I just couldn’t decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. I mean I was in my fifties and still asking that question. I just couldn’t decide the shape of my container.  It wasn’t until I managed to get free from the corporate world that my container really started to take shape. So here I am in the later part of my life finally filling my container. My container was always meant to be filled with compassion for my fellow-man.  I discovered that I am an altruist to my heart. I just didn’t realize that for so many years. I spent so many fruitless years building what others told me my container would be. I never really looked into my heart to discover my true container’s shape.

That brings me back to the title of this post. It seems that there are so many people today who have filled their container with nothing but sour grapes. Their purpose seems to be making sure that no one  gets anything they haven’t worked for or somehow don’t deserve.  Our current political process seems to be overrun with these types of containers.

I find that fact so bitterly ironic because many of the sour grape people adamantly claim that we are a Christian nation. Everyone who has studied even the slightest levels of theology know that one of Christianity’s foundations is that Jesus died for our sins so that we can go to heaven. Our dogma tells us that we absolutely don’t deserve what he did but he did it out of the love for us.  So these sour grape folks are basing their eternity on unearned grace while denying those around them of their own personal grace.  This totally confuses me. How can they possibly reconcile the two attitudes????

What Is An Altruist??

March 8, 2012

I am going to put on my teacher’s hat now.  Although I have never been an official teacher I have taught at several seminars in both the professional arena and the religious arena. So here is a lesson about altruism.

On the right side of my blog I proudly proclaim that I am a passionate altruist. But what does that really mean? As usual there are varying definitions of the term. Here is what Dictionary.com defines as an altruist:

altruism  (ˈæltruːˌɪzəm)

1. the principle or practice of unselfish concern for the welfare of others

2. the philosophical doctrine that right action is that which produces the greatest benefit to others

While this short answer gives you an idea of what altruism is let’s look at Wikipedia for a longer explanation.

Altruism /ˈæltruːɪzəm/ is a concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and a core aspect of various religious traditions, though the concept of ‘others’ toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism is the opposite of selfishness.

Altruism was central to the teachings of Jesus found in the Gospel especially in the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain.

Some Christian denominations use altruism as the very foundation of their beliefs. Quakers are one example of that and Catholics to one degree or another. Other Christian denominations very much downplay altruism and instead favor personal salvation, human unworthiness and helplessness as their foundation. From personal experience I believe Lutherans are part of that group but they are by no means the only ones in that category.

It may surprise some of you to learn that in Buddhism altruism is also a foundational item. Here is Wikipedia again on that topic:

Altruism figures prominently in Buddhism. Love and compassion are components of all forms of Buddhism, and both are focused on all beings equally: the wish that all beings be happy (love) and the wish that all beings be free from suffering (compassion). “Many illnesses can be cured by the one medicine of love and compassion. These qualities are the ultimate source of human happiness, and the need for them lies at the very core of our being” (Dalai Lama).

So to be an altruist is to care about others as much or even more than you care about yourself. I’m not sure that a person can learn to be an altruist. I think maybe you have to have that in your soul or at least your DNA :) . Here is a study about the neurological origins of altruism/selfishness.

An experiment funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted in 2007 at the Duke University in Durham, North Carolina suggests a different view, “that altruistic behavior may originate from how people view the world rather than how they act in it”. In the study published in the February 2007 print issue of Nature Neuroscience, researchers have found a part of the brain that behaves differently for altruistic and selfish people.

Why some have it and others don’t is a mystery to me. As mentioned above the opposite of altruism is selfishness. It is not hard to find examples of selfishness almost anywhere you look. The current political arena is gushing with it.

Are you also and altruist? If so have you always been one or did some life event push you in that direction?