From Hate to Fear

Mystical, I really liked the Kushner quotes – that was some deep stuff – and I think he encapsulates the relation of power, love, and evil. I think it is all about focus – what aspect of God we focus on – me I prefer to focus on how much God loves – in this I find the power of God exists – but God also seems relational.

For me, hate and fear are focuses I cannot pick up – to me – God does not seem to be that type of spirit…at least not in my experiences from what living the teachings actually does to a person. We deal with fears and deal with feelings of anger (hate) – and once those go away we move into filling those areas with compassion or contentment. I find it funny for someone to tell me ‘God hates’ – maybe they themselves hate and image it onto God – but I am not sure God does hate. Why ask us to deal with our hate if this is so? Why ask us to deal with our fears if this is so? Why ask us to love ourselves? That is hypocritical (an obvious term Jesus held no esteem for).

I cannot reconcile, within any form of logic, where God can be defined as ‘hate’. I think God can be angry – no probs there – but actually hate…if I am not allowed how can one say the God they serve is allowed to? Question is – are you allowed to hate and if so, how often do you express this right? Also, with hate comes fear – and fear seems to be in opposition to love – can you love God when you fear Him? This is all a matter of expression.


Does God Hate?

I have perused this in my brain since Joshua brought it up – does God hate?

Reason this is important is because – we have the ability to hate another or hate something – does God have that ability?

I want to know what you think on this issue – and why you think what you do…I know I have my opinions on the subject and I will use them in the discussion – but I think this is a topic that has come to us and we need to address it.

So what do you think…does God hate and if so, why?

Earning Respect

This is a topic that needs to be expressed.

Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matt 7:1-2)

Why is this teaching of importance? It lays the foundation for the way we are to judge our ways – and also it’s recompense if used in a way that is ‘un-even’. It is basically the idea ‘treat others how you want to be treated’ encapsualted in another form – both a gift and a warning.

The gift is the ability to be able to judge our lives compared to the teachings and make the best decisions we see possible. We will develop standards by which we live our lives and those will reflect onto our neighbor – and it’s best we develop a great working standard.

The warning is quite clear – how we judge – it will be used back against us – which is fair and equitable if you think about it. But it also lets us into the problem with judging based on a ‘less than well rounded’ perspective…we will be held in the same measure in other’s eyes.

The process works, from my living of it anyways, we always get what we put into something. If I judge you without knowing the full scenario (or not hearing all angles of the problem at hand) – then the judgment is bound to be skewed and off-centre. It is better to not judge at all than to say something – if you ask me.

But respect is also part of the process – if we are kind in what we do – people will ask our opinions and seek us out for help…because we are respected in their eyes. You do not get there by using measures and standards that are un-just and un-even – you get there by hearing all sides of a story and reserving an opinion until asked. Also what actions do we take on behalf of the person asking – that is truly the fulfillment of this idea.

My family has a pastor friend that used to be very close to us – in fact – we all respected him for his guidance and his wisdom. Now, that same pastor – years later – has words that are hollow and dull – without much meaning or authority. How did he get there? It’s quite easy – his judgments on certain people and on various scenarios were quite skewed and not just. As he earned his respect he also was able to lose it. He made judgments on scenarios where he did not hear the whole story – but the one he wanted to hear.

That’s what I learned about life – we are to people the authority they will allow of us. I think this is something Jesus understood quite well – he was ‘given’ authority – it was not something he conjured up – being given it was like earning it. That’s why Jesus could give a teaching like this in the first place – because he must of knew we all get what we deserve for our treatment of others…and if we do this right – people will want to ask us questions out of respect.

And this is the reason, in the blog world, I respect a lot of people opinions and what they have to say – because they have proven themselves to me as people worthy of being shared with. I think of Yael, my Jewish friend, and her words of wisdom and her valuable teachings on the Tanakh – a perspective on their texts I cannot find in the Christian realm…and she has always treated me with kindness and decency. Many of the bloggers here are like that – we respect one another – even in our disagreeances – we can still shake hands and laugh together. I am thankful to be surrounded by such people.

You shall walk in all the way which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess” (Deut 5:33)

Maybe the commandments and teachings are about life – and how we seek it and recieve it.

Defining God – How Can/Dare We?

This is an excellent point. If we are told that to behave a certain way is to behave like God — to love and include everyone — then we know that God will behave in such a way, as well, and not be selective” (OSS)

“I actually use this as my base reasoning on thinking about God – that what God asks of us – He must also ask of Himself. If not, then God would be a hypocrite – asking of us things and not doing them Himself. I don’t believe God is a hypocrite so I have to think the other way – what God asks of us – He is more than willing to do (or it’s a part of His character).

For example, Jesus teaches us that ‘do not judge unless you want to be judged (back)’. The first 3 words are ‘do not judge’ – the highest standard…I think this is what God would want us to actually follow…but knowing this not to be possible…the concession is made concerning ‘how to judge’. It is to be fair and equitable – measure for measure – equally balanced and not biased. I tend to think – God is this way also. God must be fair and equitable to all then – no partiality and bias – it has to be His character for this kind of idea to be related so often.” (SVS)

I have been having this talk on a few blogs and I have realized this is a foundational standard for me when evaluating who God is and isn’t. I read the teachings and have for many years – and they get me pondering on ‘what is God’s character’? If the teachings hold any weight at all – then they must define the character of God (since these are teachings that derive from God).

For example, I always wondered why John in his letters call’s God ‘love’? That’s a strange idea when you think about it – this is John’s definition of the main characteristic of God – it wasn’t Ruler, Judge, Ominpotent, etc. But when break down Jesus’ core commandments that sum up everything – then pieces fall into place. God would have to be love if he asks us to love him and other as ourself as the core summation of the commandments. God is only asking something He also does.

And then that must go for all the rest of the teachings – they must help define the character of God – so we can be ‘godly’ or ‘copy God’. This is why I make claims that God has to be a certain way or it makes no sense at all – we cannot have a faith that is so illogical to have God say one thing and not live by it. Which happens in some theology I have found – God can say and do what the hell He wants and we cannot. I figure if this is God’s character – then why wouldn’t it be ours (if we want to be godly?)?

I think we can rest assured the character of God is found in His teachings – they were His revelation from Sinai onwards. I think we can build a faith in God that is both logical and makes sense with what we read – and it will change as we learn more – but God can become somewhat personable in this process. We start basing our standards in the character of God we percieve from the teachings.

If anything, God is balanced.

Faith as a Gift of God?

I have been thinking about the idea we do not have faith unless God ‘gifts’ us with it. I want to discuss this a bit.

Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God

The problem for me begins with the idea of faith as a gift. If this is so – then couldn’t God give us more faith than we ever want – at pretty much anytime? Or couldn’t God just take away someone’s faith if He chooses – no matter the reasoning – just because He is the giver? If so, then there is no controlling your faith in God – God controls it – and with you out of the equation – well maybe you will or won’t be a Christian tomorrow.

I just don’t think faith works that way at all. You either begin having faith or deciding not to have faith anymore – the choice seems to be on us. Why faith would not be a choice is beyond me – since no one can command you to believe in God.

Also for Ephesians 2:8 – if you ask me the gift is either ‘grace’ or ‘salvation’ – through faith in God. Paul uses this same theme a few times:

(a) Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”

(b) Ephesians 4:7 “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

(c) Romans 3:24 “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus

The ‘not of yourselves’ part seems to be about something Jesus did concerning his death “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph 2:13). Who is Paul referring to here – the Gentiles and their inclusion into the faith – or as he puts it “having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph 2:12). It seems to me the grace is about Jesus’ death and it’s inclusionary aspects for the Gentiles – allowing them into the faith which brings them close to God.

But as for faith, I cannot reasonably say faith is not in our hands to determine. Faith is something we develop over time or not develop over time – but the choice is ours to seek out. I am not saying that God does not help out in some way (spirit) – I think there is that aspect also – but it does start with a mustard seed of faith.

Law, Grace, and Fulfillment

(3) In the law, kosher eating habits are part of the norm (and still are) – how come Christians can break thesw laws and yet still hold to the 10 commandments? Isn’t it hypocritical to hold to one law and not the others?

“Christians are not under the law, but under grace (John 1:17; Romans 6:14). “The law” specifically refers to the Mosaic law, which includes certain specific things we do not need to hold to anymore. Fleshly ordinances are gone (Hebrews 9:10). Christ is our sacrifice (Hebrews 7:27), our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7), our atonement (1 John 2:2), and our Sabbath (Hebrews 4:9-10).

And, the Son of God has authority over the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8), and He likewise had the authority to declare all foods to be clean (Mark 7:18). Christians do keep the law, but all the law is fulfilled in Christ (Matthew 5:17), by walking in the Spirit and not according to the flesh (Romains 8:4).” (Joshua)

One thing Christ does not say is – he is our law (although word of God is close). I am actually hard pressed to find a place outside Paul where we are actually excluded from keeping the law. And even within Paul it is rather funny a scenario – the law is to be kept – his few exceptions are for the sake of the Gentiles (which Acts 15 is also about). Jesus does not condemn the law – he is thankful for it and realizes its importance (Matt 5:17-20) – even how important keeping commandments are.

Compare these sentences – someone tell me if they are opposite in nature:

The law” specifically refers to the Mosaic law, which includes certain specific things we do not need to hold to anymore” (Joshua)

Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven” (Jesus)

It’s actually rather funny – we do not see Jesus annuling any commandments of God – none at all. Rather he goes into the idea of fulfillment of them – which is very simply:

In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt 7:12)

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:37-40)

What more does one really need to know about the fulfillment of the law – that isn’t being said in those 2 passages?

As for grace, grace is very big and always has been – because it comes from God. The boldest grace I declare about God is that He was even willing to participate in the human drama/comedy. God breaks through into various scenes from Abraham to Joseph – and then gives something concrete – the Law unto Moses for the benefit of the community. That’s unmerited grace at it’s core!

Now Jesus comes – and John and Matthew both use Mosaic symbology to relate the mission and message of Jesus. But essentially, they are comparing Jesus to Moses – Matthew in the sermon analogy (a mini-Sinai moment)  and John compares Jesus to that great moment from Sinai when the Law was passed onto the people (the word of God made flesh). But Jesus is just another moment of God’s revelation in a line of them already existing (from Abe to Micah) – which is all unmerited grace – we were always at the whims of God in the regards of God revealing Himself.

It makes no sense to talk about God’s unmerited grace with regards to it being a new ‘revelation’ to Paul – no – Paul knew this idea from his Jewish roots in the Law/Prophets. God’s grace was always there or favor – one just need read Jeremiah 31:1-3, Genesis 6:8, Exodus 11:3, etc. Everytime something good happens to someone – or they are asked to do something – they always find grace/favor with God. This concept was not foreign to the Jewish people – it was built directly into their earliest scriptures. Jesus was another aspect of that grace – and even he – ascribes to the scribal process and upholding/fulfilling it.

To me the law is very simple as I have explained – and Jesus laid this out in his teachings over and over – we just need to learn to love one another as we love ourselves – for this is pleasing in God’s site.

Guess What Canada Did…

They offered a formal apology to the victims of Residential Schools run in Canada from the 1870’s until the mid 1990’s.

(1) Canada Apologizes for trying to ‘kill the Indian in the child’

(2) Prime Minister Offers Full Apology on behalf of Canadians for the Indian Residential School System (complete with 12:00 min apology video)

I think this is a great way to celebrate June as Aboriginal History Month – but also a great day for Canadians in a step forward in the healing process of Canada and Aboriginal relations. I was very glad to hear the apology – not so much for myself – but for all the victims of those Residential Schools – including my 2 parents. For me, the apology is a step in the right direction towards healing a breach in affairs within Canada and hopefully can provide the step forward to a new and revitalized Canada.


Keeping it Easy

Is faith really all that easy to understand?

I have been doing a lot of reading and it appears faith is not all that easy of a process. There is some quite in depth things on atonement, God’s character, the teachings, the bible, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, sin, and everything else concerning a church’s structure/system. Faith takes some serious thought.

I think there are aspects of faith that are easy mind you – like trying to live it – that’s fairly easy to do in some regards – but the actual depth of the scriptures is not like that. There is some serious wrestling to do in there – there is no easy road of explanation concerning many passages and interpretation.

Now I love this faith because it isn’t ‘easy’ – if it was all that easy I might not pay it much attention – as it is – I have been blogging for 2 years and some and I keep getting more and more enriched as I study/discuss.

But is faith meant to be easy? Think about it.

Freedoms & Judgement – John T (Guest Blogger)

Now let me quantify what Im saying here. In my mind Grace gives us the Freedom to know that we will not have an eternal separation from our Creator. It does not say that we will not have some form of Judgement. I am sometimes confused when people say we are perfect, when it seems perfectly clear to me that on this earth we are here to grow. And in the midst of our growth we will experience many things from a negative perspective. Now does God make good from these experiences, the answer is, of course, but lets not kid ourselves, there will be Judgement on our actions and consequence from that. Will that mean God loves us less and does not see us as deserving, of course not!
The Believer’s Freedom
Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” (I Corinthians 10:23-24)
I think as believers we sometimes get confused or mislead into thinking that because we are saved we can do what we want. I think we put to much emphasis on ourselves and miss the fact that we are intended to be a community of people (Ekklesia). And because of that, there are behaviours that if taken outside of moderation actually become hurtful to ourselves and the people we supposedly love. Addictions of many kinds can eventually cause us to seperate from each other. I think that is exactly what Paul has in mind with the above quote. I am entitled to do whatever I choose and God will Love me no less, but how will that bring me into community? In the end, are my behaviours going to be loving or not? I think if I choose to do certain behaviours I must be ready when the consequence (judgement) happens.

The key to a TRULY LOVING COMMUNITY is when we can make a judgement of ourselves or others and gently and lovingly point it out without condemnation. I know this is a slippery slope, but I believe to my core it is one that we have to traverse to continue our Growth that God intended.
Galatians 5:22 (English Standard Version)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness
What happens when I overly indulge certain behaviours? Do I create the feelings that the above scripture says is the fruit of my spirit? I think not! I find it interesting though, that many who believe so strongly in Grace and Love think it is ok to overly partake in those behaviours. Rage, drinking too much, gambling, smoking, over eating and the list goes on. How can we believe that it is ok to do these things when it is obvious what the negative outcomes on our physical and spiritual bodies will be? After all, we know that outside of moderation these behaviours will drain our energies, make us frustrated and likely cause division amongst ourselves.

Now again I will reiterate that it has no bearing on whether God loves us, nor will we be eternally seperated from God. But, what imprint will it leave on my spirit and what imprint will I leave on the people I Love? I find it interesting that we can make a judgement of the Eternal Damnation(hell) idea, because we know in our hearts that it is not loving nor community enriching, yet we wont look at our areas where we create Division. Now how Loving is that? How as believers do we become accountable but not condemning of our actions? Also I ask, should we feel bad (shame) when we know that we have hurt another? Is it possible that God may have given us that feeling for a reason? Now I’m not talking about guilt but one of truly feeling, I have done a wrong.
I have wrestled with a quote given to me a while ago, so here I will share it with you. I would love to hear back from everyone on my thoughts.
John T. (Guest Blogger – a good man – and a fellow Canadian)

Pair-a-dimes & Patterns for Faith

I am finding there is a paradigm problem in Christianity – or as the old saying goes ‘people who forget the past are doomed to repeat it’…well…what if they don’t know where they are going? Is there still a type of ‘doom’ there? 

I have found that many people within Christianity do not have a paradigm they follow as part of their faith. I’ll show you a few examples so you can see what I mean:

(a) Matthew’s paradigm is ‘follow Jesus’…how do we do that? Well there is this step – ‘repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’…but what is that kingdom? Thank you beatitudes – an index to the teachings about the kingdom of God. It explains how to follow Jesus (this kingdom) – and what this kingdom is all about.

(b) John’s paradigm is wound up in the idea ‘the word was made flesh’. The word is ‘the word of God’ being made flesh is ‘living it in our reality’. So we will find a book complete with the teachings of Jesus (about God) and how by living them we can see the kingdom of God come alive.

I like both paradigms myself – they help to incorporate a vision of what this Christian walk is all about – ‘following/discipleship’ or ‘Living the Word of God daily’. But both help encapsulate a goal for the faith, a pathway, a foundation if you will – to build from.

This lacks in Christianity in general – there seems to be no set paradigm to attach to in churches. And when one is presented – it’s choppy and unsound. This for example:

(a) The ‘accept Jesus’ pattern is about a point of conversion…in which the person accepting is now ‘saved’. That’s the paradigm – it changes from church to church as to what is next and needed – but the essence is ‘holding onto your salvation so as not to lose it’. Problem is – what if they do lose it? They really are not given a good foundational pattern to build from.

The paradigms used in churches are not very completed or well rounded – the best attempts are seen in an article of faith – and even then – what exactly is that article of faith asking you? Does it contain the golden rule? How about the 2 great commandments? How about God is love? What about ideas concerning judgement? Humility? Mercy? Compassion? Equality? Money? Responsibility?

Those articles are actually not paradigms as much as they are statements thinking about the mystery of God. No, a paradigm should be some little form you can use to define your faith (the foundational statement)…and what that faith will become. Otherwise, you might not know where you are going.  

What is you foundational statement – paradigm for your faith?