If Grace Is True


If Grace is trueIt’s taken me many years to empty hell. As a child, I was taught only Christians would be saved. Billions of non-Christians would crowd hell. The thought of non-Christians in eternal torment didn’t disturb me because I’d been told Christians were good people and non-Christians were bad people. Since I grew up in a Midwestern American town where nearly everyone belonged to a Christian church, I had little opportunity to test this assumption. Non-Christians lived in the big city or in foreign countries—the places where we sent missionaries. I remember the first time I seriously questioned this worldview.

I was in college when I saw the movie Gandhi. I walked out of that theater forever changed. In Gandhi, I encountered a good man who was also a non-Christian. In fact, his commitment to love and mercy far exceeded that of many Christians. While he never acknowledged Jesus as Savior, he lived the way Jesus commanded us to live.

Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-03-17). If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person (Plus) (pp. 162-163). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

After many years of resistance and finally accepting God’s love I find it strange to believe that so many believe he is going to damn the vast majority of those he loves to an eternal anguish.  We spend less than a century on this earth in one degree of happiness or another and then billions, if not trillions of centuries in total misery and anguish. That is just not the God that I have come to know.

I too grew up in a very sheltered life in a small midwest town. There were no visible minorities there and there certainly were nothing but Christian churches of one flavor or another in the area. It was not until I went to college that I was exposed to anyone outside my usual cliche. Things would change rather dramatically for me during those years.  I learned that everyone who didn’t go to a Christian church were not bad guys. Many seemed to share the same level of morality that I did during those years.

It was later in my life than it was for Mr. Gulley that I saw the movie Gandhi but it also affected me greatly.  I went on to learn more about the man and the religious stands of his version of God. Gandhi was a man of infinite morals. He understood thing about loving your fellow man that I still can’t fathom. Why would God send him to hell while giving me a place in heaven.

I like the idea of emptying hell. Is God really going to eternally condemn those stubborn souls who fail to recognize him during their utterly brief time on this earth?

We Learn Nothing By Speaking…..

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You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi

For here we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead… Thomas Jefferson

Remember, we learn nothing by speaking. St. Francis of Asissi

I thought I would pull up three inspirational quotes from some of my heroes for this inspiration Sunday.

Gandhi was a man of simplicity. He lived his life with very few luxuries. But his words were full of riches. We can’t just complain about something in life. Doing only that is a worthless task. Instead of complaining work to find a solution.

Thomas Jefferson left a huge legacy of writing for us to learn from. He spent his life as a seeker of truth. He questioned everything. Like me, that got him in trouble with some.

I bring out a quote from St. Francis of Asissi in honor of the new pope.  Even though I am no longer a Catholic I wish him the best of successes.

In Service Of Others……


The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself  in the service of others. Mahatma Gandhi

It is obvious to most of you that I think Gandhi was a very inspirational person. The above quote is certainly an example of that. Of course the bible has many quotes with the same message. The ultimate example of this is when in Matthew 20 Jesus himself said he came to serve, not to be served. I looked up the phrase “to serve” in my bible app and it returned 150 occurrences. That tells me that to be a Christian means is to be in service to others.

Regrettably there are so many today that are almost totally self-focused. It is becoming a “What’s in it for me” world. The thought is if I get no gain then what is the point? Gandhi lived his live with very few material comforts but he probably lived one of the most rewarding lives of anyone in the twentieth century.

GuruAlmost all young people, certainly me included, spent quite a bit of time trying to find themselves. We seemingly looked on every mountain top for the answer to that question. It consumed much of our early existence. Many times the answer was facing us head on but they just didn’t see it. When we finally get around to focusing outside of ourselves we find the answers we seek about our purpose in life….

New Years Resolutions…..


Checking clipboardSince this is a first day of the year post it has to be about the resolutions I have made for 2013. Being a list maker you might think that my list is quite long but you would be mistaken. We are all the slaves to the calendar so when we turn from one year to the next it seems a nature time for changes. I am no stranger to changes; in fact I most often embrace them! This year my list of changes is quite short. I don’t know if that is because I am starting to see the end of the tunnel now or for some other reason.

It used to be that my list of changes was quite long but since I have now managed to give up most of my vices either willingly or because of doctor’s orders I really don’t have but a couple of things on the list for this year. 🙂
The most important one is from a Gandhi quote:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

The first part of this quote is known in many different forms. There is “eat, drink and be merry…” There is “live every day as if it is your last”. “Live every day as if Jesus is coming tomorrow”. There is no shortage for advice on the first one. I think I have done a pretty good job of living as if I would die tomorrow, at least for the last few years.  The second part is the one that made my list for 2013.

The last part of this quote/resolution is I believe uniquely Gandhi. One of the things that I sometimes struggle with is I think why I don’t just lie back a live off all the knowledge I already know.  Why do I continue to try to learn new things? Why not just say enough is enough and just sit back and veg out?  I don’t expect that I am unique in this regard. These thoughts are primarily due to laziness on my part.  But to veg out is almost tantamount to saying I give up. To not continually grow is to become stagnant and that is definitely not the way I want to end my life.

So, I pledge to continue to force myself when necessary to learn as if I would live forever. There is always something new to learn and someone wiser than me (and that’s about everyone) to learn it from.

Have a safe and Happy New Years ….

Remaking Ourselves….

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world — that is the myth of the atomic age — as in being able to remake ourselves. — Gandhi

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood  behind me.  — 1 Corinthians 13

Looking back on my life Gandhi’s quote above inspires me with its wisdom and the second quote from the Bible mirrors the same message.  Being able to see the circumstances and the facts and then making changes is where the greatness lies.
This seems to be a very tough message in today’s world where gridlock and stubborn instance of being right is the norm. There are just too many in the world who are consumed by their current worldviews  and are totally unwilling to even consider that they just might not have all the answers. Read more

Inspiring Words From Gandhi…

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world — that is the myth of the atomic age — as in being able to remake ourselves — Gandhi

Gandhi was a firm believer that small actions can result in big things. He spent much of his live doing small things but the result did remake the world. He managed to free India from British rule and he became the godfather of the idea of peaceful resistance which was later used by Martin Luther King and many others over the years.

We all need to understand the words above. Most of us wish that somehow we could remake the world into something with more compassion and justice but that is too big a dream for just one person. What we must each do is to find something that will make an even infinitely small contribution to that dream and when it is compiled with millions of other small efforts the end result will happen.

The lesson to be learned from this inspiring quote above is to stop complaining about the way things are and start doing some small things about it. If your would like to see world hunger solved, and it can be solved, contribute a few cans of food to a local food kitchen. How about giving a few hours to the Meals-on-Wheels organization?  If you are worried about people dying from preventable health causes let your representatives know you are for universal healthcare that much of the rest of the world already has. If that is not your thing then find someplace where you can volunteer at a local free clinic by for instance picking up people who can’t get there by themselves.  Even a few hours a month would mean something.

Just get involved no matter how small you think the effort is. If you do that and millions of other do the same then the world will be remade. It takes all of us to do our part to make big things happen. Individually it is impossible but as a group we can, like Gandhi and his followers, accomplish much. Just get off your hind side and do something!

Do what you can to remake yourself and in the process be a part of remaking the world….

Tolstoy and Christianity….

<< Update 12/16/16 –  I wanted to put this post as a featured post for a while as it has consistently been one of the top posts I have written over 5 years ago.  It has gotten regular readership almost weekly since then. >>>

After watching the ending of a movie about Leo Tolstoy the other day I got interested in his life and writings. It surprised me to learn that he like Thomas Jefferson had written his own version of the Bible called the “Tolstoy Bible”. He again like Jefferson believed that the Christian church had strayed too far from the words of its founder Jesus Christ. I also learned that much of what Gandhi practiced come from Tolstoy’s writings.  Here are some words about that from Wikipedia:

Tolstoy’s Christian beliefs centered on the Sermon on the Mount, particularly the injunction to turn the other cheek, which he saw as a justification for pacifism, nonviolence and nonresistance. Various versions of “Tolstoy’s Bible” have been published, indicating the passages Tolstoy most relied on, specifically, the reported words of Jesus himself.  Tolstoy believed being a Christian required him to be a pacifist; the consequences of being a pacifist, and the apparently inevitable waging of war by government, made him a philosophical anarchist.

Tolstoy believed that a true Christian could find lasting happiness by striving for inner self-perfection through following the Great Commandment of loving one’s neighbor and God rather than looking outward to the Church or state for guidance. His belief in nonresistance (nonviolence) when faced by conflict is another distinct attribute of his philosophy based on Christ’s teachings. By directly influencing Mahatma Gandhi with this idea through his work The Kingdom of God is Within You, Tolstoy has had a huge influence on the nonviolent resistance movement to this day. 

Before this study the only thing I had credited Tolstoy with was his very long book “War and Peace”. It is interesting to see the more complete man now.  Much of his spiritual understanding are my own as well as the Quakers that I so admire.  To get a better understanding of Tolstoy’s Christian beliefs here are some of the words from the above cited book entitled “The Kingdom of God is Within You”. It now resides on my Kindle for a future read.

From: The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy  1894 But Christ could not have founded the Church, that is, what we now understand by that word. For nothing like the idea of the Church as we know it now, with its sacraments, miracles, and above all its claim to infallibility, is to be found either in Christ’s words or in the ideas of the men of that time. The fact that men called what was formed afterward by the same word as Christ used for something totally different, does not give them the right to assert that Christ founded the one, true Church. Besides, if Christ had really founded such an institution as the Church for the foundation of all his teaching and the whole faith, he would certainly have described this institution clearly and definitely, and would have given the only true Church, besides tales of miracles, which are used to support every kind of superstition, some tokens so unmistakable that no doubt of its genuineness could ever have arisen. But nothing of the sort was done by him. And there have been and still are different institutions, each calling itself the true Church…..

It is terrible to think what the churches do to men. But if one imagines oneself in the position of the men who constitute the Church, we see they could not act differently. The churches are placed in a dilemma: the Sermon on the Mount or the Nicene Creed–the one excludes the other. If a man sincerely believes in the Sermon on the Mount, the Nicene Creed must inevitably lose all meaning and significance for him, and the Church and its representatives together with it. If a man believes in the Nicene Creed, that is, in the Church, that is, in those who call themselves its representatives, the Sermon on the Mount becomes superfluous for him. And therefore the churches cannot but make every possible effort to obscure the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount, and to attract men to themselves. It is only due to the intense zeal of the churches in this direction that the influence of the churches has lasted hitherto.

Let the Church stop its work of hypnotizing the masses, and deceiving children even for the briefest interval of time, and men would begin to understand Christ’s teaching. But this understanding will be the end of the churches and all their influence. And therefore the churches will not for an instant relax their zeal in the business of hypnotizing grown-up people and deceiving children. This, then, is the work of the churches: to instill a false interpretation of Christ’s teaching into men, and to prevent a true interpretation of it for the majority of so- called believers.

Some very interesting words from a very influential person of his time.

The Seven Deadly Sins (Ghandi version)


I am going to take a break from the Bible book of James to bring over a post from one of my now inactive blogs at RedLetterLiving.net . It is about another one of my heroes. This list has proven to be a cornerstone on my beliefs of non-violence and man’s humanity.

I know that Gandhi was not a Christian but many of his actions were certainly Christian in nature and principle. I found  the picture shown here under a pile on my desk. I wish it had remained on top but that was not  to be the case. Anyway, it will now reside in a reserved section of my bulletin board above my desk. Of course this is a play off of “The Seven Deadly Sins” that came out in the Christian church in the middle ages.  Here is what Wikipedia says about that:

The Seven Deadly Sins, also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, is a classification of the most objectionable vices which has been used since early Christiantimes to educate and instruct followers concerning (immoral) fallen man’s tendency tosin. It consists of “Lust“, “Gluttony“, “Greed“, “Sloth“, “Wrath”, “Envy“, and “Pride“.

Most of us know that Martin Luther King patterned his civil rights movement  based on Gandhi’s non-violence protests. His list was at the foundation for Dr. King.

Gandhi was born a Hindu and practiced it all his life, deriving most of his principles from Hinduism. As a common Hindu, he believed all religions to be equal, and rejected all efforts to convert him to a different faith. He was an avid theologian and read extensively about all major religions.  With so much of history about different religions going to war with each other over their personal view of God it is kind of refreshing to find a religion that is not like that.  I guess I will need to put the study of Hinduism on my post seeds list too :). I remember watching the movie (Gandhi)  about him that came out about 25 years ago. It was very inspiring and helped shape much of my beliefs about nonviolence. Gandhi was indeed a very inspiring person.

 Let’s always remember that other religions may have insights into God that Christianity doesn’t.  We should learn what we can from them. Maybe I am just too sensitive to these issues but I see all seven of these sins being glaringly played out around us today. The first three have been prominent in our headlines for several years now and the final four are burning just below the surface! How sad is that?….

Memorable Quotes

Mahatma Gandhi

Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

At first thought the above quote did not mean a lot to me but when I thought it out it is indeed has a great significance in my life. I often get somewhat depressed that there is so much suffering in the world today. The chanting of war has seemed endless in my lifetime. I was conceived by a noble man returning from World War II. Then there was the Korean war, the Vietnam war, the Iraq war and many other “conflicts” strung in between. War, death and suffering seem to be a way of life for us.

I also getting frustrated that there is so much need in the world today. There are so many who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Even in the U.S. which is the most prosperous, at least from a monetary point, in the world today. There are those who are working two or even three minimum wages jobs just to keep their head above water.

Yes, some of this need is self inflicted; that is there are people who totally buy into the materialistic mantra of the marketing folks around today. They buy more and more things that aren’t really needed until their credit cards are drowning them in debt. I try to have compassion even for this group also but often times end up judging them for their behavior.

But there are also many many people who through no fault of their own just cannot afford the basic needs for them and their family. Some are drowning in bills associated with some previous healthcare event. I know that over half of todays bankruptcies are related to this fact.   I look out at the sea of people in desperate in of help and become very frustrated. Whatever I do will be very insignificant to the overall need. And that is where the above quote comes in. No, I by myself cannot make even a small dent in this need but if there are millions like me out there doing our little part then at least some of that need is fulfilled. So at Gandhi said it is very important that we realize that nothing we do is really insignificant if we are doing it with others like us.

So I try not to be disheartened about my limited contributions to easing the world’s pains. As long as there are others like me we are not insignificant!

And the journey goes on…