Friday, May 18, 2007

Unconventional Worship

People of all races, religions, sizes, backgrounds, personal opinions will tell you a different theme on how they view faith and how they individually practice worshipping their God(s). Reasons associated with childhood, structure, limitations, as well as fear have most people staying within the boxed in lines. They’re scared to learn, afraid of influences of the world, and most of all, influences of their own mind and their own inner spirit. I’ll even go as far to say that as children, we have been all brainwashed with a theory, a “truth”, a belief system, or a lack thereof. Most cling to that belief system, and very few people jump outside that box, to find out what God really wants them to do.

Worshipping God is a personal thing. Some like to meditate before prayer time. Others simply enjoy walking out in nature to experience God’s beautiful creations. Some, will go to a church to congregate with others. Everyone has their own way. For me, fellowshipping with other “Christians” has left a bad taste in my mouth. Most judge and ridicule every single move we make, casting us into a fiery pit of hell. A ton of Christians scare others away from God, which is the worst sin of all.

“And now about prayer. When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” ~Matthew 6:5-8

This is what the bible teaches us. It doesn’t mean we have to pray like this all the time. The point of this is, don’t be so limited upon your prayers to God. Don’t ramble on the same redundant prayer over and over again without any heart in it. For me, speaking to God as if He was right here is what works for me. I speak to Him anywhere, in the car, in the shower, outside on the hammock and even when I’m among other people, I’ll say a prayer in my mind. My favorite way is early in the morning, facing the east side of my house overlooking the beautiful views of the mountains and lakes. I sit quitely, listen to meditation music, calm myself, and then pray. I try to listen for Him, instead of doing all the talking.

There are many times in the evening where I find myself lighting many candles, alone, just meditating upon His presence. It usually surprises me when someone criticizes another person of faith about how they pray and worship. Be unconventional; pray the way that fits you. I’ve even went so far to pray like the Muslims do. Catholics kneel to pray sometimes- this just takes it a step further. Communication with God isn’t limited. Some people are completely uncomfortable with the conventional ways of praying.

How does one know the truth without seeking answers? I’ve come across many Christians who claim they “know the truth”. Not one person “knows the truth”, however, many believe what’s “true to them”. And we can’t argue with them about it. It’s “their truth”.

In the bible, there’s a great scripture that just popped up at me this moment…

The Future—Determined and Unknown

"Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny. The more words you speak, the less they mean. So why overdo it? In the few days of our empty lives, who knows how our days can best be spent? And who can tell what will happen in the future after we are gone?" ~Ecclesiastes 6:10-12

Even the bible tells us that we still do not know the truth. We rely on faith. Our faith- being our ‘own’. The stress, anguish, resentment, criticism, judgment of people of the Christian faith comes from insecurity of their own destiny. If you think about it, if everyone was certain about their destiny, no one would be arguing. No one would be bickering over what’s right or what’s wrong. There would be peace on earth and one belief system- because it was revealed as the truth.

So then, what’s the point of arguing, if no one knows for sure what the truth is? How can a mere person try to save another, when the other person’s belief may be the right one?

No. one. knows.

We believe.

49 comments:

Matt-Man said...

I have a very conversational type of prayer. I "talk" to God anywhere, anytime as well. I usually just ask for something such as asking Him to help my son have a good day. The Matthew quote is one of my faves. I hate over the top public displays of devotion. it is usually more show than grow. Cheers Deb!!

Enemy of the Republic said...

Amen to that, sister.

Anne said...

Hi. I came over here from Enemy's blog.
I know the truth, because I'm really smart like that. (I'm joking.)

All we can really do is hear as many points of view as we can, carefully look at the laws of nature, and follow our intuition as to what rings true for us. I believe all major religions across the world are fragments of the whole story. They have the same core; only the details differ. Yet sadly, people hurt and kill over those details, in the name of "good."
Somebody once said that God is like an enormous stained glass window, so vast that each person can only see that one particular colored part that shines directly on them. They have no idea that there are actually many other colors, and they are all a part of God.

And you're absolutely right about some Christians driving people away from God. It certainly happened to me.

~Deb said...

Matt-man: I remember my neighbor would mow his lawn and scream from the top of his lungs every prayer that every single Catholic/Christian knows. He would quote the scriptures – yelling for every neighbor to hear. I mean, yeah it could have been “his way” of praying, but it was quite a display!

Enemy: You and I seem to be on the same page lately.

Anne: What a great analogy- the stained glass window. Sometimes, we only see a small scope of things, and not the big picture. Truth is a personal thing when it boils down to faith. Thanks so much for stopping by!

~Deb said...

Also, please be patient, allowing the comments to be released. I'm not always at my desk or logged onto my blog. I apologize for those who thought their comment didn't make it through, due to the moderation. I'll post them as quickly as possible. They all come in the order of which they were received.

Thanks for letting me know!

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

Anne and I share a similar view. I have always thought that faith was like a multi-sided faceted geometric shape. Each of us sees or experiences just the facet that is closest to us. Somehow together, the entire shape makes the whole story; each of us is simply given a particular lens to see and experience through. I am a christian for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that I was raised in that tradition and it is the language I speak. But when we are fortunate enough to have others who look through different lenses allow us into their traditions and understandings, we are invited to experience another facet of the God we love and know. My bestfriend in high school was the daughter of a rabbi - I spent every shabbat at their home and loved their tradtion. That they were so willing to open up their faith to me affirmed my own and her Dad was instrumental in helping me understand my call to the ordained christian ministry. As a matter of fact, he was one of my presenters at my ordination. Different faith and worship practices do not have to divide us from one another. Our own faith is no less true for us because others practice something else. If we are willing to look with open eyes and open hearts, our knowledge of the God of love who made us all grows and we are brought again to our knees by God's goodness and grace.

Enemy of the Republic said...

Anne is good people, Deb.

Gary Baker said...

Think about one of the last comments:

"So then, what’s the point of arguing, if no one knows for sure what the truth is?"

Now, match up that comment with the context and commands of Christ as he came and went from Earth:

"19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

Would Christ command us to go disciple people into a practice where neither we nor they could know the truth? Would he admonish not only teaching doctrine (discipling), but obedience if we could not know the truth? Would we even have been commanded to interfere with other's lives and faiths at all, if we could not know the truth? Would Paul and the rest of the disciples, and later the martyrs, give themselves over to death if there was not a truth that must be stood for? If there was not "a right way" to approach God, would it not have been better just for them to preach to turn to God in your own way, and continue to live and preach?

Would Abraham have put his son on the altar if he wasn't sure it was God's command? Would Moses have left for Egypt if he wasn't sure that God had called him?

God can do whatever he choses, but in all cases where he works with people, an essential ingredient is faith. Not just belief, but a belief that is certain enough to act on.

"31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." 33 They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?" 34 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know you are Abraham's descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. "

"5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."

There is also a verse in Proverbs, I believe: "Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding, and He will make you wise."

Somewhere along the way, a great deal of Christianity has embraced doubt as better than faith. Some claim it is an essential part of faith. Doubt can be good if it leads us to look to God for answers, but if we doubt that there even are answers, what good does looking do?

~Deb said...

Rev. Kate: That’s beautiful. See, whatever religion people are, you can still learn goodness, joy and peace, and yet find “your own way” through to what you find what’s true to your heart. I believe God calls those to certain parameters of faith- not just one organized one. I feel Christianity has so many avenues. There are many ways to worship and draw near to God, besides the conventional way of praising Him.
You said,
” If we are willing to look with open eyes and open hearts, our knowledge of the God of love who made us all grows and we are brought again to our knees by God's goodness and grace.”
But the thing is, a lot of people aren’t willing to do that, therefore we continue on bickering and arguing over who’s right and who’s wrong. I totally agree with you and Anne.

Enemy: I can tell. I’m so happy she contributed to this post. (Thank you Anne!)

~Deb said...

Gary: The biggest commandment of all is to love God with all your heart and to love others as you would yourself. The biggest commandment that can be broken is to turn another Christian away from God and to turn from God Himself. The bible speaks clearly and sometimes it speaks with gray areas in it. There are tons of contradicting passages—tons. But, if you meditate and ask for wisdom and understanding before opening the bible, God will give you His message. To each person, I believe this message holds various meanings. What’s truth for you may not be truth for some, however, following the golden rule of treating others with love and loving God is the biggest one I feel.
Jesus treated people with compassion and forgiveness. Christians of this world treat others with such bitterness and judgment. They discourage, instead of uplifting them and encouraging them with positive thought processes. I’m highly disappointed in Christians who seem to “know all”, because it’s impossible. You cannot know the absolute truth when religion is based on faith – it’s based on “BELIEF”. So how then, can anyone say what’s wrong and what’s right, when the bible itself speaks to people on so many different levels?

Anne said...

Enemy and Deb - awww... you guys are awesome. :)

Gary Baker said...

" The biggest commandment that can be broken is to turn another Christian away from God and to turn from God Himself."

Without getting into a semantics discussion about different levels of sin, I can certainly agree with the statement that it is very grave to turn a Christian away from God. For that matter, to turn a non-believer away from God is also quite serious, because Christ's last command was to go and make disciples, and to teach them to obey.

Jesus treated people with compassion and forgiveness. Very true. What else did he do? He taught them to obey. Look up the scriptures and find out what it says are the requirements to be Jesus friend and disciple: What does it say? I am pretty sure that you will find an admonishment to obey his commands. Given that admonishment, can we say that we are his friends and disciples if we are not obeying his commands? And I'm not just talking about the ones that say to love and forgive. Those are important, no doubt about it. But what about seeking and saving the lost? What about "making disciples"?

If your basic statement, that God's truth for one might be different than God's truth for another, then why did he command that we obey him? Why did he bother to give any commands at all if he was going to give each one personalized instruction in everything? I mean I know that God does give each believer special gifts and instructions, but if it was going to be completely individual, why did he bother telling us to be kind and forgiving since we were going to get that from him?

Look at your own angst with Christians: Are you really angry with them because they claim to "know the truth" or are you angry because they are treating you in a way that is contrary to the commands of God? How would you feel if they said to you "Your truth from God is to love others. My truth is to proclaim your sin." Would you belief them, or would you "judge" that they were trying to justify their own disobedience? And when you get angry with them for being judgmental, are you also guilty of being judgmental, or are you correctly pointing out that they are not obeying God's standards? The scriptures truly are a double-edged sword.

In one of the later Epistles, we are told that if we don't love our brother whom we can see, than how can we claim to love God whom we cannot see. I would put this to you: If you will not follow the written scriptures, which were given at a great price, then how can you claim that you are following the voice of God in your heart.

Do you remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar? The rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus to his household to save his brothers from the place of torment. Abraham did not send Lazarus. In the parable told by Christ, he replied that if they would not believe Moses and the prophets (and by this, he was referring to the scriptures), then they would not believe someone even though they returned from the dead. In the Old Testament, God referred to the scriptures as the life of the people. If you do not trust them, how can you trust anything at all as far as God?

~Deb said...

Gary,

Much of what you say falls into my belief. What I was referring to, as far as other Christians telling me their belief that ‘this’ may be wrong, or ‘that’ may be wrong is okay. It’s a “belief”. Look at my blogger friend Sandalina. She feels that homosexuality is a sin. She believes this as ‘her truth’. I totally accept that, and we both don’t step on one another’s toes to correct our beliefs. We accept and love one another as sisters in Christ. We have different beliefs that we live by, and I totally respect that.

I want to answer your questions the best I can.

You said, “If your basic statement, that God's truth for one might be different than God's truth for another, then why did he command that we obey him? Why did he bother to give any commands at all if he was going to give each one personalized instruction in everything? I mean I know that God does give each believer special gifts and instructions, but if it was going to be completely individual, why did he bother telling us to be kind and forgiving since we were going to get that from him?”

The ten commandments and to treat others with respect and love is something that I try to obey. Am I perfect? I’ll never be. But I try to do the best I can. When I speak of ‘personalized instruction’, I mean personalized messages and interpretation. I’m not implying in any way that turning against God is good---I’m speaking about different gifts and messages that God gives to each and every one of us. I spread the word of what I believe to be true. God makes it abundantly clear that we must forgive others in order to get the same in return.

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” ~ Matthew 6:14-15

We need to have mercy on others in order for God to have mercy on us. But that’s up to you and each individual.

My question to you is, do you remember the story about the anointed woman? Jesus went to a Pharisee’s home to have dinner. The immoral woman anointed Jesus with perfumes and wiped his feet with her hair. Jesus said to the Pharisee, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t give me a kiss of greeting, but she has kissed my feet again and again from the time I first came in. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love. Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” The men at the table said among themselves, “Who does this man think he is, going around forgiving sins?” And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Her faith alone saved her. She showed compassion and love. The pharisee, who obeyed every law was condemned by Jesus.

Gary Baker said...

Hi Deb,

I'm very familiar with the story you reference (though I never thought of it as the "anointed" woman, since she seems to be doing the anointing), and I know that it is one of your favorites. I know that her faith alone saved her. For me, though, the money part of the question is unspoken: "Faith in whom?"

I know that each of us has different gifts. I'm certainly not a missionary, and that's why I join with a body of believers that does missions, and I can support the effort to win others to Christ while using my talents in other areas. Good arrangement.

Now, as you have said, none of us is perfect. I've never (seriously) made any claim to be, and that's fine. And forgiveness of others is great and is a command that we have been given. And I'll also admit that there are some scriptures that I can't fathom. But you made some pretty sweeping statements in your blog:

"So then, what’s the point of arguing, if no one knows for sure what the truth is? How can a mere person try to save another, when the other person’s belief may be the right one?

No. one. knows.

We believe."

That's pretty wide open, and it makes me wonder what you think: Can Buddhism save people? Can Islam? Can Wicca? Do you believe that people can find salvation through other ways than Christ? Where do you draw the line?

~Deb said...

Great question, Gary. In my faith, I can only get into heaven if I believe that Christ died for my sins. As far as the way I practice Christianity and worship, it can be the way Buddhists pray, it can be the way Muslims pray to their God, and it can be the way the people of Islam pray. My ways of worshipping “Jesus” and believing fully in the trinity can vary. There’s only one God for me…but for others, that may be different. My rituals may be unconventional, however my focus is only on Jesus Christ. That’s the difference.

Thank you for asking that.

Jo said...

I remember as a little kid hearing my father pray one night at the table. I asked him why he didn’t close his eyes. He said, “do you close your eyes when you talk to me?” I told him no. He said well sometimes I think God would like to be talked to like you would talk to me. I will never forget that conversation. It was the first time that I understood that God was real and that he was a friend that I could chat with on a one to one level.

I still talk to God as an adult with my eyes open, as if he is sitting at the table with me. Sometimes I even get aggravated at him and laugh at myself out loud.

It will be nice when we can all worship Him from our own kind of pew without being faced with being told we are doing it the wrong way or right way. That our walk with Him isn’t the path we should be on.

Love the way that you write. Love your open mind and desire to seek your own truth.

~Deb said...

Jo: How interesting! It makes sense though. I know for myself, I do both. It depends. See, every one of us pray differently. Sometimes, I feel more peaceful with my eyes closed, so that my surroundings don't disturb me. However, if I'm outside on my deck overlooking the beautiful view, I pray with my eyes open.

Thanks for sharing that Jo!

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

I am not a fan of John's gospel, but I have always been struck by one line in the midst of the "Good Shepherd" discourse in John 10: "I have other sheep who do not belong to this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice" (John 10:16). The argument can certainly be made that Jesus is advocating bringing all into one fold, having all the sheep be the same and everyone listening to his voice the same way - and the Church has historically interpreted it this way. But what if this is not what Jesus meant? Christians believe that Jesus is the way to God, but maybe what Jesus is saying here is that "there are sheep who don't hear my voice they way you do. Maybe I need to speak to them in the language they know in order to bring them closer to God, so that all can be in the fold of God's children?" God the creator made a diverse creation. Surely God wants the diversity of the creation to honored or he/she would have made us all the same to begin with. As christians, we believe each of us is unique and important to God because of that uniqueness, yet that uniqueness is part of the being made in "the image and likeness of God." (Genesis 1:27. It makes sense to me that among the gifts the God made incarnate (Jesus) would posess is the ability to speak to those whose tradtions are not like ours. Perhaps the Spirit of Christ lies within the traditions of other faiths and it is only because of our fears, our insecurities and our inability to perceive it, that we do not recognize it?

~Deb said...

Rev Kate: Exactly what I’m trying to get across! Thank you!

”…there are sheep who don't hear my voice they way you do. Maybe I need to speak to them in the language they know in order to bring them closer to God, so that all can be in the fold of God's children?"

Many of us live different lifestyles, in different places, believing in many different aspects of Christianity. Diversity is everywhere. We would all be the same if we all believed the very same thing. Life on earth wouldn’t be a challenge. I’d guess it would probably be mundane- without passion and a desire to learn more. Many people are scared of the unknown, which is why I believe many people bash others to bring them down to their ‘structured way of living’.

Thanks Kate!

Ricardo said...

I'm sorry Deb but I'm so sick of this guy that I have to say something here.

You want to know why I come down so hard on you Gary? It's because for a man who claims to know so much you actually show a profound inability to see the bigger picture. Your approach to the discussions Deb puts out shows that disrespect for people of other faiths is alive and well. Quote the scriptures if it makes you feel better or justified, the result is that you come off as patronizing and pedantic. Like this gem you dropped on us:

"That's pretty wide open, and it makes me wonder what you think: Can Buddhism save people? Can Islam? Can Wicca? Do you believe that people can find salvation through other ways than Christ? Where do you draw the line? "

Yes Gary all those faiths can "save" you if they are the right fit for you. What? Do you think all of these people are "bad" or missing out because they don't see it your way? How on earth are any of these faiths listed out of line? Why must a line even be drawn? Are these religions beneath you Gary?

I got a kick out of this one Gary:

"31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." 33 They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?" 34 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know you are Abraham's descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. "

I suppose me and the rest of the Jews are to blame for all that's wrong in the world because he's not a central figure in our faith. Are you Mel Gibson fan Gary?

There's nothing wrong with following a spiritual figure like Jesus if you're a Christian. However there are Muslims who think Muhammad is the one true messenger from God. Many religions have figures like this. Who am I to say which one is right or wrong and how dare I attempt?

So I must agee that there is no point in arguing this because we DO NOT KNOW! Instead we believe.

You say God is working on you? Pray he works harder because the job isn't getting done based on these remarks. Just put a sock in it.

THE END!

~Deb said...

One word Ricardo----beautiful!

Ricardo said...

LOL! Glad to be of service Deb. The pleasure was all mine.

~Deb said...

I got the bill...you're pretty expensive!!!

Gary Baker said...

Hi Deb,

I am with you (at least I think I am). I would certainly agree that if your faith is in Christ and in your prayers you seek to honor Christ, then there is no "right or wrong" way to pray. On the other hand, if you are praying to goddess, or seeking to honor the earth, or any of the other things that God forbade, I can't think of a right way to pray.

Rev. Dr. Kate,

You made an interesting statement:

"God the creator made a diverse creation. Surely God wants the diversity of the creation to honored or he/she would have made us all the same to begin with."

It could just be my take on semantics, but this is the kind of statement that drives me crazy. (Probably because of PC related diversity.) I know that God desires us to care for creation and love each other, but as far as rendering honor as in worship, that is reserved for God alone.

I can't claim any understanding of what "other sheep" Christ was referring to, but I am doubtful of the interpretation you give. My reasoning is that Christ's mission was prophecized as a single event. I kind of think that if he had planned to "make the rounds" as it were, that would have been foretold. I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit moves across the nations to draw them to Christ, but I don't really see the King of the Universe making repeat appearances. As he said on the cross: "It is finished."

Sandalina said...

I have to disagree with Ricardo.

The difference between all those religions is that Jesus is the only one who can offer salvation because he is the only one who died to pay for sin--plus, he was raised from the dead. All the others are dead. Gone.

They have nothing to offer in terms of eternal life. They may have some beautiful teachings and alot correspond with even what Jesus taught, but they are still dead and gone.

It would be nice to live in a world that John Lennon wrote about in his song "Imagine" but, unfortunately, it's only a nice dream and there is a real danger in embracing all religions as the way to eternal life.

Your soul is not something you want to gamble with. But the beauty of God is that He gave us free will...you can choose to believe that way Ricardo, it's your choice, but "the way I believe" is that there is a consequence to that choice.

Ricardo said...

Gary more stupidity:

"I am with you (at least I think I am). I would certainly agree that if your faith is in Christ and in your prayers you seek to honor Christ, then there is no "right or wrong" way to pray. On the other hand, if you are praying to goddess, or seeking to honor the earth, or any of the other things that God forbade, I can't think of a right way to pray."


Gary I hope God is a woman.

Ricardo said...

Sandalina, not every religion belives in your definition of "salvation" nor are they wrong not to belive in it. Within the Christian context it's correct but in the broader contex it's irrelevant to those who are not Christian.

And Sandalina, my Judaisim is not a gamble and you are just as big of a twit as Gary if you think my faith is not valid. The consequence of my following Judaism has been one of great fulfilment. If you stopped whishing hell on everyone who didn''t see thing you're way, maybe you'd get some out of your faith too.

GW Mush said...

Sometimes it just doesnt matter HOW you pray cuz the prayer may never reach God.
This has happened to me.

I said this beautiful heart-felt prayer, and I was so excited about God hearing it. I looked up it the clear star-lit night sky watching my prayer travel to the heavens and out of nowhere, I see this satanic satelite intercept my prayer and reflect it back to earth, and it crashed in the ocean.

I bet some little fishy ate my prayer.

Gary Baker said...

Hi Ricardo,

I see that your comments are as intelligent and insightful as always. I'm going to a movie. I look forward to reading your latest "pearls of wisdom" when I return. Say "Hi" to Susan for me!

Ricardo said...

Will do Scripture Boy!

Gary Baker said...

Ricardo,

"If you stopped whishing hell on everyone who didn''t see thing you're way, maybe you'd get some out of your faith too."

Looking good. Is that a new icon?

kathi said...

Each individual has an entirely different relationship with the Father because it's a personal one. I have a different relationship with Casey than I do with Charlie, they each communicate in different ways with me because they're individuals, they're different from one another. But I don't love one more than the other.
On the same train of thought, I can't communicate with one of them when they won't let me...when they close up and withdraw from me. I just have to wait till they let me in. They know that when they come to me, I'll always be there, because I love them and I want nothing more than to do everything I can for them, that will improve and not destroy their life.

Multiply the love of a parent towards his child by an indescribable number to come close to the love God has for us.

I do go on and on...oh wait, lol, that's you.

LOVE YOU!

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

Gary: I did not mean "honor" as in "worship," I meant "honor" as in "revealing the sacred in what the Creator made."
I do not know your background or even what translation of the Bible you are using - and yes - the translation makes a difference. I have not heard, "It is finished" applied in that way before. Are you interpreting it as "the revelation is complete?" If that is the case, then we have no need of the rest of the canon.
The God we meet in the christian scriptures is one who keeps trying and trying to reconcile God's people and the creation. I cannot believe that based on what we see in the scriptures that God is ever finished with the work of redemption.
And I stopped by your blog to see if it would tell me more about you theological background - if you are looking for an answer to what defines a civil war, take a look at Michael Walzer's "Just and Unjust Wars." It is the classic text of modern just war theory and in it you will find a detailed examination of what constitutes a civil war.

Sandalina said...

Well...I said I didn't agree with you Ricardo, I didn't call you a twit.

I don't wish hell on anyone. There is only one truth...we'll find out in the end I guess.

You know...Christopher Columbus believed the earth was round and everyone else thought he was nuts-- convinced they could fall off the face of the earth.

Just because people thought the earth was flat didn't make it true.

Gary Baker said...

Sandalina,

I don't know what your experience is with Ricardo. In my experiences with him, I've found that he doesn't want to have a reasoned discussion but rather to throw out snippish remarks. I have taken to responding to him with inane non-sequitors. Perhaps you will have better luck.

Dr. Kate,

Thanks for the reference on civil wars. I will try to check that out.

FYI - I do most of my scriptural research using a program called eSword. It is available free on-line, and you can download at least six different translations of the Bible free. It also has some great search and reference tools. I heartily recommend it to anyone who wants to study the scriptures.

I agree that God is constantly reaching out to his people. I plead guilty to using "It is finished" out of context. My belief is that was a statement that he completed all that was required for him to become the complete and perfect blood offering for sin. I do not belief as a lot of Christians do that it ended the entire sacrificial system. God commanded the Jews that there would be other sacrifices (e.g., during the passover) that would be perpetual. However, since the sacrificial observances only apply to Jews, it doesn't affect most of us one way or the other.

I know that God reaches out to his children to this day, desiring fellowship and worship. What I resist is any pronouncement that he will accept worship in form that contradicts the substance of his scriptures. To pray in a manner a Muslim or Hindu might do with the substance of Christ I have no doubt would be acceptable. To pray to Christ, but also to accept pagan goddesses as was mentioned above, would not be acceptable because the scriptures so clearly decry it. That was the distinction that I was trying to make.

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

Gary - Thanks for clarifying the translations. Just so you know, the NRSV is the one I use as it is the most accurate translation of the ancient languages.
I have always thought that human beings have misunderstood what God meant by "worship." I don't believe God needs or wants our unceasing praise simply for the sake of praise. I thnk he/she would prefer that we worship by doing the things God wants us to do and sent Jesus to us to show us - caring for one another, healing, feeding, respecting the divine in others and in the creation itself.
I take your point about the Spirit of Christ in Muslims and Hindus (and those of many other faith traditions as well). I am never certain if the focus on the goddess is so much pagan as it is a search for the divine feminine which has been consciously eradicated from the christian tradition. It bubbles to the surface in a few spots in the christian tradtion (in Proverbs wisdom is portrayed as a woman, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem as a "mother", etc.) but this is countered by a conscious effort within the christian scripture to demonize women (Hosea's unfaithful wife, Gomer, is the model for Israel as the harlot in the first two chapters of Hosea - and if you read the text carefuly, it is the recipe for how to batter a wife - Israel is always portrayed as a harlot when unfaithful to the law. And this strain continues in the NT in "the household codes" in 1 and 2 Peter and 1 and 2 Timothy which are later books). I think many women who know themselves to be made in the "image and likeness of God- male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27) are so repelled by the anti-woman bias in the christian scriptures that they are forced to look for strong female images in other traditions to bring them toward a sense of the divine feminine.
Deb - don't mean to go on and write blog posts on your comments - feel free to not post this! I am just trying to broaden the perspective!

~Deb said...

Let me put it in another way. The law was our guardian and teacher to lead us until Christ came. So now, through faith in Christ, we are made right with God. But now that faith in Christ has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. So you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him.

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free,male or female. For you are ALL Christians—you are one in Christ Jesus.

And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and now all the promises God gave to him belong to you. ~Galatians 3:24-29


If Christians apply the Old Testament and live by direct, literal scripture, then slavery would still exist, repressing women to speak in Churches would still exist, as well as keeping the law, which Jesus Himself, took away through His own passing on this earth.

Then you have Scriptures, interpreted, debated, misunderstood and twisted into own words for ammunition for reasons of bigotry. There’s always a scripture that will counteract another.

Why?

One person reads it this way, and another person reads it another way.

Why?

Do you think that maybe God is giving different messages out to different people? When “Christians” say, “You’re twisting the scripture,” because someone else interprets is another way, is it possible that it’s all but a misunderstanding? Or, is it a matter of God’s personalized message to each person who loves Him?

What does the above scripture mean? I’d like to know everyone’s interpretation of it. Now that would be interesting!

Gary Baker said...

"If Christians apply the Old Testament and live by direct, literal scripture, then slavery would still exist, repressing women to speak in Churches would still exist,"

Not really. I mean, it's possible that slavery might exist, but I don't think anywhere in the Old Testament God's followers are commanded to keep slaves. The Hebrews were given different conditions as to how they could treat slaves that were Hebrews as opposed to foreigners, but this did not address the morality of the issue itself.

The laws of the Old Testament that you are referring to as limiting the role of women in worship were outlined in the Hebrew worship system, and that system was never commanded of non-believers. So again, not really appropriate.

Now as the last point, about the law, you and I will continue to disagree on that. I do not agree that Jesus took away the law. His sacrifice meant that we would no longer be judged under law for purposes of salvation. He never said or indicated that any part of non-ceremonial law intended specifically for Jews had been rescinded in any way. It was wrong to kill before. It still is. It was wrong to dishonor your parents before. It still is. And we still bear the consequences of these sins on Earth. A Christian that lies, steals, cheats, but has given their faith to Christ, will still go to heaven, but their relationship with God is so broken on Earth that they will be unable to receive the joy, peace, and abundant life that God offers while we are still here in this life.

~Deb said...

”His sacrifice meant that we would no longer be judged under law for purposes of salvation.”

Isn’t that what I was trying to convey? I do agree that there are ‘laws’ ---commandments that apply to Christians, but we are no longer “bound” to the old law, from what the scripture speaks to me.

For instance, this is how I see the scripture…

“You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles. And yet we Jewish Christians know that we become right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ-and not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law.” ~Galatians 2:15-16

Here… Look at Galatians chapter two verses 17 through 21:

But what if we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then find out that we are still sinners? Has Christ led us into sin? Of course not! Rather, I make myself guilty if rebuild the old system I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law, I realized I could never earn God’s approval. So I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ. I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me an gave himself for me. I am not one for those who treats the grace of God as meaningless. For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.

Then what do those scriptures mean? I’m actually seeking answers---not debating here. I’m trying to have you understand how I read the scriptures…as well as interpret them.

Thanks for responding!

Lorna said...

deb,
Another great post. You always give me food for thought and I appreciate it. I guess for me the question is, we talk the talk but do we walk HIS walk? I know I have a long way to go until I am walking HIS walk in everything I do, say or think. But I never give up trying. God is love and I know He loves me...........nuff said. hugssssssssssss

Gary Baker said...

Dr. Kate,

It should come as no surprise that I thoroughly disagree with your assessment that the scriptures demonize women. Yes, Jerusalem is referred to as a harlot, etc. But if you take a look at the big sinners mentioned, I think the men outnumber women substantially. David - murderer, adulterer. Solomon - idolator. The history of the Old Testament is a history of the people's failure apart from God, and it seems to me that most of the highlighted failures are men.

"are so repelled by the anti-woman bias in the christian scriptures that they are forced to look for strong female images in other traditions to bring them toward a sense of the divine feminine."

I don't think they are forced. They may be tempted, and I (this is purely my opinion) think the source of their temptation is pride. I'm a member of a fairly conservative Southern Baptist church. There are lots of restrictions as far as gender and marital status for different positions. I am not sure that every restriction is required by scripture, but I don't go to war over it. There are a lot of more liberal churches around here where things are different. When someone questions me about if it's right that a woman can't be a deacon in our church, I say "If a woman wants to serve God in this fellowship, she will have all the opportunity that she could hope for. If she wants a particular title, she's going to have to go someplace else."

Deb,

The scripture verses you chose are hardly crystal clear, are they? Here is what I give as my best interpretation of the scripture:

We know from reading the scripture leading up to these verses that Paul had built up a good case of righteous indignation. To impress James, Peter had stopped eating with the gentiles when James came to visit. And the scriptures further imply that Peter was trying to get the gentiles to observe Jewish law and custom, indicating that Christ was not enough.

"But what if we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then find out that we are still sinners? Has Christ led us into sin? "

A paraphrase might be: What if we were counting on faith to make us right with God, but find that we are still committing sin? Did Christ deceive us? Are we still separated from God?

"Of course not! Rather, I make myself guilty if rebuild the old system I already tore down. "

No, Christ was true. If we try to preach another way to be right with God, then we are guilty.

"For when I tried to keep the law, I realized I could never earn God’s approval. So I died to the law so that I might live for God."

Despite my best intentions, I could not keep the law. Therefore I could not earn God's approval. I accepted the gift of God in Christ.

I am sure that we agree pretty much on this interpretation, in that we are not "bound" to law. I think where we disagree is that in cases where God pronounced something as evil in the Old Testament (that was not limited to Jewish ceremonial law) whether or not it would still be considered sinful. At least, that's my recollection of our disagreements in the past. I do not say that it would prevent salvation, but it would put a stumbling block in between the believer and doing all that the could for God.

~Deb said...

Thanks Lorna, the fact that you don't give up trying is the concept I try to implicate with my faith.

Thank you Gary, for explaining your interpretation of that scripture. I see it differently. As I read those scriptures, it basically tells me, that if I don't have enough faith, then I would try to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven by keeping the law. I'm no longer bound to the old law, due to Christ's death. I believe so much that He has died and taken away our sins, and has forgiven mankind for their downfalls.

I appreciate you taking the time to explain to me how you feel about those verses.

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

Gary - The fact that men are the named sinners is true (and they are also the heros), but it is also fact that women are either absent, sacrificed or demonized in both testaments of the christian scriptures. Many of them are unnamed or we know them only
through the men to whom they are attached- Jeptha's daughter who is sacrificed to fulfill a vow made by her father in Judges. The daughters who are sacrificed and raped at Sodom so that the men will not be raped. Eve gets the rap for the fall and the scriptures continue to punish women because of it. Women are the "unclean" ones in hebrew law and there is that interesting passage in Exodus 19:15 where Moses is preparing the Israelites to receive the law at Sinai and he says, "Prepare for the third day, do not go near a woman," as this will contaminate the men. And it continues in the New Testament. Jairus' daughter, the woman with the hemmorage, the woman at the well, the woman who anointed Jesus with nard, her tears and her hair (the is no historical documentation to support that this woman is Mary Magdalene) - all of these women are unnamed. And the household codes are an attempt to undo the baptismal formula in Galations that Deb has quoted about, "In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female." Women are not to speak in the churches (1 Corinthians), must be subject to their husbands (Ephesians 5) and their behavior must be regulated in 1 & 2 Peter and 1 & 2 Timothy.
I realize that as a Southern Baptist you take a different position on scriptural inerrancy than my tradition does (I am an epsicopalian). Women teach, preach and lead in our churches as ordained folk because we recognize that scripture was written by those with the power to write it, women's voices were silenced (Aside from Matthew 15:21 and following where she is the only person who challenges Jesus and beats him at an argument- and of course, she is unnamed!) and women's experience is largely written out of the scriptures.
I do not think it is pride that causes women to look for affirmation of the divine feminine in other traditions - it is being voiceless, subjects not agents and yet knowing that we, too, are created "in the image and likeness of God."
And if you would like to continue this discussion more directly, my email is on my blog.
K+

Ricardo said...

Sandalina - you say" I don't wish hell on anyone. There is only one truth...we'll find out in the end I guess." Sorry but no. You dismiss every other recognized and respected religion in the world and act surprised that I call you a twit? Be glad a didn't call you more.

You say, "You know...Christopher Columbus believed the earth was round and everyone else thought he was nuts-- convinced they could fall off the face of the earth."

That's right, you don't know any better than I do so keep that in mind when you make such belittling remarks. For all we know we can be reincarnated like Buddha and the last time I checked, that's not being dead and gone.

There is something intrinsically wrong and destructive to assume that no faith but YOURS has nothing to offer.

As for your concept on eternal life, whatever. I'm too busy living the life I have now and don't treat this as a waiting room. I'm very happy with my so called "gamble." Which is another view that is inherently troubling and is actually hate in full practice.

Ricardo said...

correction to what I said before:

There is something intrinsically wrong and destructive to assume that no faith but YOURS has SOMETHING to offer.

Gary Baker said...

"Aside from Matthew 15:21 and following where she is the only person who challenges Jesus and beats him at an argument"

You do indeed have an interesting interpretation of scripture: A woman falls at Christ's feet. Worships him. And pleads with him until he grants her request, and you categorize that as "challenges Jesus and beats him at an argument."

"Women teach, preach and lead in our churches as ordained folk because we recognize that scripture was written by those with the power to write it, women's voices were silenced"

Moses had no power to defeat the army of Egypt and free the Hebrews. Through God's power he did. Elijah was a man like any other, and yet through God's word he was able to defeat the evil prophets of a nation. Daniel had no power to close the mouths of the lions. Peter did not have the power to heal on his own. Neither was it by their own strength that Paul and Silas were singing hymns at midnight, locked in the stocks, in terrible agony after an unjust beating.

God accomplished all of these things and you try to tell me that he is unable to appoint the messengers that he desires and deliver the message that he really wants expressed?

Gary Baker said...

Rev. Dr. Kate,

I did not comment on the last part about your invitation to continue. I do not shy away from spirited debate but would not really know what might be an appropriate way to approach the subject. My email is linked on my blog profile. If you care to begin a private correspondence, let it be your choice.

Irisi said...

Mush:

"I bet some little fishy ate my prayer."

I hope you meant that as a joke, because I just laughed so hard grape juice came out of my nose.

Ah, the things we find hilarious when we are sick and homebound..

:D

Anonymous said...

NerdRoom@WAKEUP.com

Many Nerds won't be returning. Some old timers I remember from last year, people like Trenchcoat Mafia, I think Silk Dragon Shirt, probably won't be coming back.
Spamming blogs I put their names up, immortalizing them, if only until the blog owner erases it::::
1. Trenchcoat Mafia
2. Silk Dragon Shirt
3. The Distinguished English Gentleman
4. Beta Nerd, and of course
5. Rosie The Transsexual
Rosie's original name was just Rosie, due to his rosie cheeks. Then they shared he has a high level of knowledge as a tactic. This of course is a similar segment to that which they dump transsexuals into to gain a false sense of security.
I too enjoy irony, and therefore Rosie has now become Rosie The Transsexual.
Who else has a nickname in the NerdRoom?

I'd like to remind you many of the people in the NerdRoom are good men. I hope this is reflected in what they are allowed to learn and the progress they're allowed to make.
I'd also like to remind you their predicessors from a generation before, REAL nerds who fill the computer swap meet, are WONDERFUL men, and since I likely won't be going back down there I want to remember them as well.