It’s A Narrow Road Alright

I have had it with people that are narrow-minded. They have a black n white world-view and believe people outside their frame of mind are going to hell. I just think that is too narrow of a road for anyone to follow and reminds me of the Pharisee’s traditions. Here’s what I mean.

Scripture has to be 100% accurate and be error-free. What irks me is not that they believe that but they live contrary to their own belief system…but expect you to buy into it 100% no questions asked. They are hypocrites half the time in trying to define error-free faith. It’s ‘judge not’ but the way they use judgement as a deterrent makes you wonder. Jesus hangs with sinners but the church calls it the ‘world’ and to be avoided at any means. It’s a God of love but the church finds Him to be a God of seperation & exclusivity (just for the saved). Salvation is the message of the gospel (solely almost) and ‘good works’ is seen as damaging to your faith because it will fool you. Even if the book was ‘error-free’ then we still have this problem on our hands…the church’s interpretation is making it null n void.

I see the church in a different light over the past 6 to 7 years, seeing the strength of their hypocrisy in ‘teaching one ethic’ but living ‘another ethic’. If you question the structure you basically question God. If you leave the structure, you basically leave God too. Now I might be gullible enough to believe that if the church ‘practiced what is in that book’. However, they do not and some of the same things Jesus says to the Pharisee’s has come full circle to be said to the church. Just what did Jesus say to the Pharisee’s? I go to Matthew 23.

1. “Therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.” Hmmmm…did I just read that right.

2. “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger”. Could he mean laws & regulations we have to follow to stay a Christian, the same ones we condemn ourselves by?

3. “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men;…They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.” You don’t say. I have seen that somewhere recently.

4. “You shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. ” I always wondered why it was so hard to be saved and accepted by a loving God.

5. “You devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers“. The houses thing I don’t see very often but those prayers, are those the same ones where people pray for you and literally tell how much this person knows about scripture.

6. “You travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. ” That’s actually a little ironic when the trend in some churches is to scare people with ‘hell’ to get them into church in the 1st place.

7. “You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.” Seems to be some mix-up, did the Pharisee’s think the altar and the temple were to be honored? Reminds me of some churches that think the structure is as important as God.

8. “You tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” So we should gather resources and be involved in our community?

9. “You clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence”. So don’t say anything bad in church or feel down and dress nicely with smiles on always. Robbery & self-indulgence, I can think of 2 cases in the 80’s about this.

10. “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Kind of like being better than some people, let’s say people of the ‘world’.

11. “For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous.” Let’s see I have been hearing this spiel for some time now, ‘we need to return to what our fore-fathers, those Puritans, taught and how they shaped this country’. Oh those Puritans, same one’s that taught First Nations people were ‘savage heathens’ and oppressed African Americans. Good times really.

11. “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city.” I may be going out on a limb here but is the church getting some people sent to it to help change it’s direction and they drive them out of there…calling them, let’s see…heretics, ungodly, anathema, back-slidders, apostate sinners with a ‘seared’ conscience. Weird.

So do I think the church fits into some of these categories, yes I do (the vow one, not so much). But I see a reason for change in mainstream church and if you don’t agree, well check out your local neighborhood church and get real involved…might find out that I am onto something, well not me, Jesus taught me this.

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You Are What You Are? You Are Spiritual?

I live a very weird life. I am very introspective about life and try to internalize the knowledge and bits of information that always bombard me. I can’t say I successfully do that all the time but I am trying to grasp all views of all people. This is a blog about why we do things and see the things the way we do, I call it PRTA.

Perspective – The first thing we bring to any situation is our perspective, our paradigm, our world-view. Somehow we made sense of this world around us and developed a way of dealing with it, we developed a perspective. In every situation we face we will add our perspective to it.

Can a perspective be right? I think there are some truths but perspective’s are our slant on things (personal). Life is firstly perspective. I drink pop but some people (Mormons) find caffeine reprehensible and it should not be consumed (who’s right?). Pop isn’t the healthiest choice and maybe that defines their belief or maybe it’s forbidden by God, I am not totally sure why that’s a belief of theirs. If they can convince me to stop drinking pop well I just might, perspectives do change after all. A perspective is what drives your core beliefs. Core beliefs may be seen as ‘true’ until another perspective shows otherwise. Basically, as humans we are in a state of ‘flux’ in a world that is infinite. We have ‘our point of view’ and none others. We are changed by the things around us whether that be a car accident, something we read, someone’s affair, someone is healed…everything plays a part in how we will define the world. As I said that changes.

Reaction – We live from a ‘perspective’ but we are changed by our reactions to new information we process; we react to things around us. Someone may believe that God is a healer, I mean that is what Jesus did a lot of. Then you pray for someone to get healed and they don’t, they actually perish. You feel like your faith let you down, at least that’s what you’re told. But you question that and notice ‘yeah you may have doubted a bit’ but healing doesn’t hinge upon you anyways, it’s God’s act. You start the chain reaction of questioning your core belief. Eventually you come to a new more moderate belief that doesn’t condemn you for having ‘too little faith’. You start to say ‘that was God’s will’ and there was very little you could of done outside His will. By reacting you change the very nature of the way you believe, your view of God, and your view of yourself. Reaction is this, your view of a bullet changes when your the one shot, not shooting. But reaction is the 2nd step in a change of direction. Timing is everything.

Timing – Things happen in a certain time-frame, seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years, etc. Some things happen in a few seconds, like a car accident, but linger for a few months. Some things happen in seconds like being shot or punched (little time to react). Some things take months, like preganancy, while birth may take hours. And some things take a longer time, like a war that may take years to resolve.

When things happen they happen in a time-frame, you have time to collect yourself (perspective), react to the situation, and then develop an outcome (action)…and that time-frame means a lot. When considering beliefs, you have a lifetime to decide what you truly believe since that may be allotted to you. When being robbed you have precious seconds to develop a paradigm for the situation and usually you’re at a loss for words. But in both situations your ideas about life will change. The person challenging his beliefs ‘chips away at the stone’ for months perhaps; the person robbed develops feelings of fear (in an instant) that grow into ideas of ‘protection’ at all costs so as to never feel like a victim again. Perspective and reactions are subject to the present time you find yourself in. Now it’s time to act.

Action – The inevitable result of living. I have a paradigm, I react to situations, and then I act upon what changes I have made (or not made). Actions do not proceed before belief, even the robber knows that he wants ‘money’ so thusly he acts; the person being robbed tries to think of what to do then he acts (even if out of fear). We are defined by our actions. Someone who is called a ‘pedophile’ didn’t earn that because they won spelling bees. Someone called a ‘doctor’ didn’t earn the name mowing lawns. They earned it by their actions which accordingly enough fit the name they are called.

We commit actions because that’s what we are, humans ‘being’. Our perspectives only change when actions accompany them, to solidify the belief. You won’t do something you don’t believe in. Mormons won’t drink caffeine because they don’t believe in it. I do however. Here is how it all fits together. My perspective about guns is that there is nothing wrong with them and all people should own one, if only for protection. I see the Columbine incident and all of a sudden I react in horror to 2 teens gunning down other teens with sub-machine weapons, for the sole case of murdering these innocent children. My reaction causes a change in my original perspective because now I think guns of that magnitude are of no use in society and should definitely not be in city homes. I then take action upon my belief. I discard my weapons (a handgun) and tell others that this is the right thing to do. Ta da.

So who cares? Well for one I do. Knowing this process makes you privy to many things. Firstly, you change the lives of indivduals around you daily with your actions, which in turn causes someone to react and change their perspective. You are what you eat, think, drink, dream, fantasize, read, watch, etc…dependant on how you internalize that stuff. Others are then at your whim because your perspective may be a driving force in someone else’s life. It sounds like a big responsibility, well it isn’t…that’s exactly who you are. You will help others define themselves as they come into contact with you.

Secondly, who the hell are you? If you don’t know then you best find out right away. You need to struglle internally with that question until you produce answers befitting your character. You need to know what you believe and why you believe it. You need to look at your reactions and question that. Basically, you need a world-view, a pardigm to live life…those without it get lost in a world of unending knowledge and dismay. If you don’t know yourself and your capabilities then one day you will surprise yourself and that reaction may trouble you (and effect others).

Thirdly, no one person that I have seen has all the answers. It’s alright to claim you do but you’d be lieing out your teeth. Many experiences will come your way and change the very foundation you thought was a ‘rock’, for no man is a rock. But even rocks are shaped by the flowing stream over time. You have a paradigm right now that is subject to change. So does every other person around you. You are not always right or always wrong but you are ‘always’ something. We hate to believe we don’t have all the answers but to claim otherwise is just nieve.

Lastly, there is a time for everything and when these times come we have to prepare ourselves. That is why we build paradigms so we can react adequately to life and life unexpected. Without a paradigm or set of core beliefs to fall back on we are like a wild animal on concrete streets, we don’t have a clue how to react to these surroundings. We have to be prepared to face the inevitable and the unknown because that’s exactly what tomorrow is. But the better building and refining of our perspective the better we will roll with the situation.

What’s the point? You are a spiritual being and everything you do means something. We should take heart that we mean so much to so many, although they will rarely tell you. It’s a human point of view but that’s all I really have to work from.

The Crux: The Point Where Reality Overtakes Fiction

I was just reading my brother’s blog today and he came across a marvelous quote from Martin Luther King Jr. I have decided to dedicate a blog to it.

“I must honestly reiterate that I have been dissapointed with the Church, I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the Church . I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church….I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“I like this passage because it demonstrates the philosophy that “every brother ain’t a brother.” King and his followers were going through the toughest challenge of their lives while the people they thought were friends turned their back and said nothing; more importantly they did nothing. I think it’s a good lesson.” – John Bird

Strong quotes about the state of the church, like 40 years ago! Funny these are the same churches today (Southern Baptists & the Religious Right) that both defend war with Iraq and support anything for the ‘Nationalistic’ pride of God, which I never knew he had. I will paint this with an all too familiar brush from the past so we can see what beloved Christian religion is steeped in, and it ain’t no rock I can tell you that…more like waves of ambiguity.

King Jr. was a minister of the gospel of Christ, no more than that…he lived it out. When civil rights was in it’s beginnings King Jr. took his beliefs and joined the rally, even led it. He knew that ‘all men were created equal’ and that segregation was an oppressive force leading to the ruin of African-American neighborhoods. So he sat at the counter’s and ate with African-American students, lead peaceful marches through the south, decided to ride the bus with Rosa, got hounded, persecuted, arrested, and thrown in jail by police, and even gave his life to the movement…all he wanted wanted was freedom. What did the church do? Well some came out but by his own admission ‘”I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents” (King Jr.)

So the southern church never backed the equality of the African-American, I wonder why? Doesn’t Christ teach us that we are all equal? Does Jesus love some races more than others? Is the church ‘middle-class’ white folk who don’t give 2 dimes to the impoverished? It’s funny but I see the hypocrisy of the church in this enlightened age where we are 100% sure that God never thought one race was better than the other. Southern church never expected one thing, God would call upon them to ‘take up the cross’ and walk to their shame, persecution, and possibly death for fellow brothers in Christ. Why did they not expect it? They had money and respect amongst their peers, to do so would mean forfeiting that stuff to be shamed amongst their communities. They may have debated over ‘God or money’, we don’t know, but we stand here today knowing they backed the wrong side.

I guess the real ‘rub’ in the story is why didn’t more southern white church folk stand up and ‘condemn’ their fellow brothers & sisters for being ‘un-godly’? And fear being thrown out of the community of God also, can I hear a ‘hell no’. These people self-justified that they were doing God’s will and that doing ‘social justice’ was just not gospel, it was anti-gospel or so they must of taught (or just turned a blind eye). Where was the voices of reason in an unreasonable generation? The voices of reason were tried alone & died alone…King Jr., Evers, and many others. Don’t you think we as a church need to ‘speak up’ against social ill’s like this that plague humanity? Don’t we think Christ just might of took up the cross and followed along? WWJD?

I find it absolutely appaling when churches let things slide out of control around them when they have the right (I might say duty) to lend a helping hand. They talk a damn good game about salvation but when the act is called for in modernity ‘few there be that follow’.

I just finished learning about a Mormon commune called Bountiful, it’s in BC somewhere. This community not only promotes in-breeding, polygamy, deism, but also child abuse (marrying off 15 year olds to 50 year olds). Now I got to wondering if the the local church in the town (within walking distance) has something to say for that situation? Now I can let go the polygamy, in-breeding, and deism but ‘child abuse’…well I think they drew a line that we have to ‘cross’. Or ‘live and let live’ and God will sort justice out in the end? I got 1 word for that, bullsh*t.

The church has a duty to go down to Bountiful, at least the church in that nearby town, and at least present choices and options to these oppressed teens. So what if these ‘Mormon’ priests condemn them and call them every name in the book, these same ‘priests’ are marrying 15 year olds in the name of the same God we worship. I say at the least, present them the ‘good news’ of Christ and start setting up shelters for these young women. If that town cannot do that then I can’t imagine them on the day of Tyre and Sidon’s judgment. Ouch, too critical.

I am just saying speak out at injustices that are obvious injustices, be the responsible body of Christ. Injustices are happening around us all the time and the church focuses it’s attentions on the damn dumbest things like gay marriage, prayer in school, 10 commandments in courts, and in-fighting with other denominations over ‘gospel’ validity and interpretation. Problem is there are real social injustices that need to be stood against and problems that need to be addressed with answers.

Oh, we can wait for gov’t to step in and maybe ‘Koresh’ the situation, or maybe they’ll just keep up with the ‘Jones’s’…still maybe if some other ‘God-believing’ people stepped in they might see a better outcome seeing we come from a similar perspective. You see what they knew about Waco and in Jonestown was something simple we haven’t quite learned yet…people of faith might have been able to persuade people away from these ‘radical’ theologies coming from similar footing. I still don’t see why that is something the church cannot do? We have a voice.

All I am saying is we need to stand-up for ‘civil rights’ amongst humanity, isn’t that what Jesus taught and lived out before us (ex: Samaritan and leprosy issue of his day)? All I know is if I see someone using God for their ‘weird’ benefit that we have to step in and be the voice of true reason. Let’s not pretend we came into a faith that let’s us off the hook to the people around us, cause that’s not what I read. There are issues out there that are not worth ‘looking the other way on’ and we as a church have to unite, stand together, and both protest these problems but pool our resources into answers. Jesus really is the answer, now go find the question.

Who is God?: 2 Views of Opposition

“There is much to support the idea that Jesus died for all without need of any help on the part of mankind to complete the work” (FiddlerPaul, a blogger)

Great quote about salvation and what Christ did on behalf of humanity. Funny that quote might sum up the idea behind mainstream church’s idea’s about salvation.I think the church doesn’t believe ‘mankind participated in the cross’ by simply believing or doing…that’s ludicrous. I think mainstream church thinks the cross is the act of salvation but can we refuse that gift? According to Danny Kaye (a blogger) ‘yes’, according to many of the bloggers on YBMT ‘no’. Basically it’s all in perception.

One group says ‘God did it all and man has no choice but to accept it’. Another group says ‘God did it all but man does have a choice to accept it’. That’s the 2 views in a nutshell. Which one is speaking for God? That’s the tough part to figure out. But you don’t write blogs to hold back so I’ll add my 2 cents in.

What strikes me as odd is that one side is proporting ‘free will’ and the other says there is no ‘free will’ within the salvation process (it can’t be both). Free will means we have the choice to choose Christ’s redemption for our lives by simply believing in Him. No free will means Christ’s redemption was automatically calculated onto us, whether we believe in Jesus or not. On one hand I find some judgement, if you don’t believe you perish but that is strictly your choice. On the other hand I find it doesn’t matter what you believe because God made that choice for you. That’s where I have to draw the obvious line, ‘chose for me’?

How can a man say to me, God chose for me? What reality is that based on? That’s like saying my parents chose to become carpenter’s so I have to and my kids have to, etc. Well that’s just simply flawed reasoning from any human’s point of view, cause I can so choose what my parent’s want not (I’ll be an electrician). Or it has been deemed by the gov’t’s of the world the whole world is capitalist now, does that exactly make you one? No. I still have Che Guevera leanings. Free will (decision making) exists in every situation and unbelievably that makes this colorful world what it is (to deny that is to deny absolute reality). But somehow I have to believe God denies us free will.

Here’s a short OT lesson from the very start of the bible, Genesis page 1. In the beginning God chose to make the world. He chose 6 days to complete that work. He chose to rest on the 7th day. He then chose to make humanity in ‘his image’ (which is why I can see we are a prized possession). He chose to make a man, then the man asks for a woman (choice), so God makes him one. Then man chooses to disobey God & believe a serpent in eating an apple from a ‘forbidden’ tree. Man gets the boot from the garden and this is how sin came into the world. Well, what’s the exact moral of that story? We don’t have choice in our outcome? God made a decision on our behalf to boot us out? God ‘made us in His image all except for the ‘choice’ part?

I can speak like a man, walk like a man, act like a man, think like a man, but I cannot make a choice like a man. If man was totally redeemed at the cross riddle me this: Why doesn man choose to still commit henious crimes against his fellow brother? Why does Jesus mention ‘repentance’ and so does Paul/John/Peter (I call it personal responsibility)? How can a man be saved if there is nothing to be saved from? Jesus recognizes choice throughout the gospel and this one should ring loud and clear ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you, for this is the Law & the Prophets‘. Again, looks like we have a choice to make according to the OT.

I actually can’t find a place in the gospels where choice is not part of the equation, whether that be parables or in the stories of Jesus. If Jesus has to make that choice to die on the cross, what makes our ‘crosses’ any different? The early disciples understood that. If they were preaching such a ‘universalist’ gospel then why do 2 people drop dead in front of Peter for ‘lying’ to God? Why in Matthew 25:31-46 is there a dividing up of people (based on choice) when the ‘son of man’ comes in His kingdom? The only possible reason can be is this: there is a choice to be made.

In the same breath, we are not the determinents of people’s salvation (so we have no right to condemn people), that is between them and God; not their faith judged by a church’s authority (ex: let’s see he’s said the prayer, attends church regularily, now all we need is baptism for the tri-vector – to prove himself to the church he is saved). That’s what Jesus taught against so a lot of the feelings I read coming from people that leave organized church is justified (see Matthew 6: 1-7 for real faith in God – a little too unsubstantiated for organized religion).

That’s why I can draw strength from people that leave the church that preach ‘universalism’, they’ve been in this struggle, can’t change it, so for freedom’s sake they leave…they make themselves more my brothers by admiting the church is failing humanity. I can also say people that say ‘salvation is a choice’ are my brothers for they also believe in the same Jesus I do, but wait til you get burned and seek God’s love and acceptance in full capacity. The rubber hits the road right here, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and I think the ‘universalists’ have seen the short-comings of mass church practice, I applaud them for God has opened their eyes to see what religion can become. I also applaude the reality of choice taught within churches about salvation, I mean who doesn’t want to choose Jesus once the ‘real Jesus’ is proclaimed. So how’s about a big hand for all the believers in Christ…too peacemakerish?