Apostasy 101 2017-23

Apostasy 101   2017-23

I suggest that those that may be interested in detail, about this word could look it up and find out just what it means. Wikipedia has a great description or explanation of apostasy and with more detail than I could or want to make about it.

My thoughts are more about Christianity and the ramifications of apostasy in line with this religion. Many people cannot be tainted with this word, but some would use it to explain their reasons for saying others DO deserve this word as a description of the other’s actions.

I think of other “A” words, in religion, that come to mind.  The definition of the Apostles of the time of Jesus is one, but also, Agnostics and Atheistic are others.  Affirmation, Alleluia, Almighty, All-knowing, Absolutism, Acolyte, Advent, Agape, Altar, Angel, Annunciation, Ascension, and finally, Amen are more words beginning with “A”.   Just some facts, that’s all, but I digress, so allow me to continue.

So, I will NOT keep you in suspense with what Apostasy means.  It  means the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief.

Why discuss this? Well, I came across this word, Apostasy, and did not know exactly what it meant so researched it.

Once I knew, I started thinking about the word.  How many of us have become Apostates who are persons who were once affiliated with a faith group, but have since “fallen away” and left the group. One group’s apostate is, sometimes, another group’s convert, but not always…..

I am not going to attempt to ridicule or denounce anyone if they fit this category. In my blog, I have recently written about the subjects, Judging, Death of Religion, and Church – GoNoGo that attempted to describe the way things may be today in a religious concept. These are available at TheBettsDen.com and have many other subjects to peruse if you wish.

If someone called me a “bloody apostate” it would be tempting to go ballistic with that person, if I knew what it meant.  Since I DO know now, I would argue with that person, if I did not believe the person.  Besides, who is he or she in the realm of judging me?

OK, if I left my Lutheran religion in a way that would appear to have abandoned it, or if I publicly stated that I renounced it or Christianity, maybe they would be correct.

But, if I have strayed away from the religion and got out of the habit of going to church, for instance, how does that person know that fact. There are many reasons why I may not be practicing a faith religion for instance, and others might not know the facts, simple as that.  

There are studies, I am sure, that show statistics with percentages of this group or that group who have “fallen away” from their faith.  The Barna Group publishes on a regular basis, the numbers of this or that in relation to faith issues.  If you see them, it might be appalling to some to find out just how the various ages of people have changed their affiliation with a religious group. Barna also gives the reasons per sampling surveys and it is truly interesting to read.

OK, what happens if one decides to leave their faith.  Well, NOTHING in most cases.  Basically, nobody would notice or in most cases could care less. Some, religions have edicts that say the penalty for doing so, is DEATH or imprisonment at least. That is quite a deterrent to not leaving their faith, but that is not the norm in the world.

 Basically, in America, Apostasy is not uncommon and there are not any repercussions to get away from faith groups. I have, somewhat, mentioned this in my blogs titled Death to Religion and Church- Go-No-Go, not by name, but by the actions of people that have strayed in some way.

Regardless of the reason of why someone becomes an apostate, I feel it is sad.  What happened that made the person leave their faith? Why did they do so and did they know they were leaving, or did it just happen, period!!  The author of many novels, C.S. Lewis, did so when he was a young man. He readily admitted that it was because God did not “save” his mother when he was younger, after she became ill and died. I understand that to a degree.  He did come back to religion and was, or became, a modern mystic. His nonfiction writings expound on his beliefs. I really recommend the book he wrote, “Mere Christianity” for it has a load of questions and answers about faith, belief in God and Jesus Christ.

Either we believe in God or we don’t; simple as that.  I cannot convince anyone to believe in a God that is unseeing, quiet or non-talking, mystical, or vague in the mind of those that need a concrete being that they can relate to in life.  Too bad, because God is a Deity that is there, but needs faith in Him as a requirement of belief.

I was blessed. I saw the Glory of God, I was touched by the Savior, I heard Him speak, the Holy Spirit came into my life to advise, comfort, and console me, and I experienced God firsthand in the proof, to me, that made me know that there is a God.  I know He is Alive, He is Aware, He is Active, and most of all, He is Present in my life.  And YOURS TOO!!!!!

I welcome any comments at bettsden@gmail.com if you wish to do so.

So be it.

Peace,
Den Betts

CHURCH GoNoGO 2017-22

CHURCH – GO/NO GO  2017-22

This blog is related to my previous one where I expounded on Death of Religion.

They both touch on the same premise that whereas religion is perhaps dying, so is going to church, which goes hand in hand to a degree. If you go to church, then you may disagree, but if church is not on your list of things to do, then you might know what I mean.

I travel to church regularly, and on Sunday A.M. it appears I am the only one traveling up the road to where I attend church.  I pass two golf courses and many are busy with golfers taking advantage of the early tee time, I would presume.  Is it a typical sign of the Go/No Go People of the world; don’t know.

It is a fact that church is NOT on the list of things to do on Sunday for many people. Many people are engrossed in whatever they pursue in life, be it going to a soccer game, baseball game or other sports related endeavors.  Such is life.  OR, it may be a chance to just sleep in and enjoy a day before going back to work on Monday.

Many things about how church turns people off and that is why they stay away, has been stated as the reason for the No Church crowd. The church is too judgmental! It is hypocritical where they say one thing and do it themselves. They, being the people that go to church.

I cannot say that the church I go to is either, but perhaps I am prejudiced about the members of my church in being decent members of the community that do not do those things. I would think we DO have some that think that way, but they are not obvious if they do.  Or is it that this is an excuse to not being a part of the community of church people and they do not want to be held accountable in some way.

I would say to those that think this way, “We are ALL sinners, having foibles, and we are all imperfect and again, most of all we are ALL sinners, so join the crowd.” I would think that Jesus Christ would want us in the church, mingling, talking, questioning, asking, challenging, and finding out about Him through education of the Scriptures.

If you do go, and find it unwelcoming or unfriendly in any nature, maybe you went to the wrong church or denomination of faith.  Granted, some churches could stand to be better in inviting people to attend or to come back for a second time or so. Not ALL churches are the same, that is a fact. Some have different beliefs, different leaders, different members and I say, they do not represent the whole, just that church itself.

Someone I know stated they do NOT go to church or involve themselves in “community” like a church because they feel they do not NEED this type of activity.  I find that the church that I attend does have a feeling of “community” and we do things that are important in life, being involved!  This community activities help us and help others in many ways.  We have a lady in the church, named Dorothy that started a project called Dorothy’s Porch that GIVES away clothes and household items to those that need or wants them. We have a project each month that is a food bank giveaway, which helps those again NEED some help in daily living by getting food from the Food Bank of Cleveland, OH.  THIS IS COMMUNITY and it is a part, just a part of going to church.  We are NOT judgmental or hypocritical about what we do, we just do it.

These are just two of the areas that we have found that help the community around us and any that say this is not a good thing are wrong; period.  Being involved means getting involved, simple as that. There are other things that transpire over the year I could expound on, but you see what I mean.

I say, don’t go to church if you feel it is a wasted effort, but do come if you want to find out about Jesus Christ and what He did that means so much to any and all today.  He, God and the Holy Spirit, as the Triune God, ARE there as well as elsewhere around us, and they ARE Active, they ARE Alive, they ARE Present in our lives regardless of what some think.

Peace be with you

Den Betts

Death of Religion 2017-21

                                           Death of Religion   2017-21

This may be controversial and debatable as an opinion on where religion is or is going in today’s time frame.

I consider myself religious.  I also consider myself as spiritual. Two different things in relationship to believing in and practicing a faith in a Divinity.

There is a whole spectrum of various things to think about faith, but I will dwell on the two terms used, somewhat, as a means of identification of how people use the words to describe their beliefs.  I will then propose the thought that religion is dying out as a means to pursue the relationship with God.

 Spiritual but not religious” (SBNR) is a popular phrase and initialism used to self-identify a life stance of spirituality that takes issue with organized religion as the sole or most valuable means of furthering spiritual growth. Spirituality places an emphasis upon the well-being of the “mind-body-spirit”, so “holistic” activities such as tai chi, reiki, and yoga are common within the SBNR movement. In contrast to religion, spirituality has often been associated with the interior life of the individual. This, taken from Wikipedia as a reference.  This is not the crux of what I want to discuss.

I make the supposition that religion is, in fact, disappearing in the mainstream of life, worldwide. The actual involvement of having religious feelings is not what it was in the past, and is not a factor for many in their daily lives. Some places actually have an INCREASE in religious furor, to a degree though.

Could it be that we, as a society overall, are becoming more rational in our thinking, more affluent and somewhat secure, more educated and less IN NEED of religion? Will religion become less important in modern societies and lead to secularization of life?  Will the modern world see religion as “just not that important”? That doesn’t mean religion is on its dying gasps of reality though; just a change in perspective of living.

I remember someone I was talking to recently stated, “I am not into religion!  I don’t like someone telling me when to stand up and sit down in a building like a church.” He further stated that “using the word “community” is not my thing.”  I did NOT argue with that person, but would have liked to explain what I thought about church and community. Sometime else for that subject though.

Religion is a manmade entity and not really a direct something from the Holy Spirit.  It coincides with spiritual growth between the person and God.  It involves doing.  You must work at it, it does not JUST HAPPEN.

So, what is happening? Evidence shows that fewer American adults, especially those under thirty, attend church, or even belong to a church. They say NONE, if asked about their religion and actually ignore faith and God as something to think about daily.

The NONE’s are outstripping other faith denominations and following other countries in Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada and other modernized places. We are becoming members of the Secular Age and it is growing. Many factors play a role in the demise of religion.

I read that 10% of adults in the U.S. are ex-Catholics, the biggest denomination in the country. The NONE’s are working at becoming the majority group at 25%,  outstripping the Catholics (21%) and evangelicals (16%).

 

WHY? Why is this happening? If you an intelligent person, which includes most of us hopefully, we have problems with religious thinking and beliefs.  I do not, but some of us do!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s less than plausible to believe in invisible gods, devils, heavens, hells, angels, demons — plus virgin births, resurrections, miracles, messiahs, prophecies, faith-healings, visions, incarnations, divine visitations and other supernatural claims.  Magical thinking is suspect, ludicrous.  It’s not for intelligent, educated people.  I believe that those that feel this way, think religion is dying due to what they feel are false, dishonest or untrue statements, that they are expected to follow without thought. 

They do not want to consider why we are here, and why the universe is made up the way it is or even if there is a purpose in life other than just living then dying and being buried.

 New scientific wonders have set the scene for a “death of a thousand cuts”, and have slowly diminished religion by extending death itself and easing our fear of mortality. Why worry about death if it lingers on? Why worry about religion that is a far reaching non-entity of life?

I am religious. I am spiritual. I am a believer of the Triune God of the Father, the Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. There IS a God and He is Alive, He is Aware, He is Active and He is Present around and within me.  So be it!!!!!!!!!!!!   I believe, and in the belief, I am.  I welcome your comments here or at bettsden@gmail.com

                       Den Betts

Judging 2017-20

 Judging  2017-20

Why do we judge!”?

I would think that we do so, because we are what we are; judgmental in nature because we are human. Make sense?

No? Well, that may be so, but there are probably good reasons why we are so. And really, that’s the way it is, so live with it. If we say we do not judge, think again, do you, do we? Probably yes, in some way, sometime, somewhere.

Being judgmental tends to make us too quick to judge and very critical of another person or thing and somewhat makes us a judgmental prig. That, by the way, means one who offends or irritates by observance of properties (as of speech or manners) in a pointed manner or to an obnoxious degree.

I would not like to be considered priggish, but If I am, so be it.  I really do not think so, but I do not like the thought of being that way.

Anyway, most of us judge others; period!

Now that this is said, I again, ask WHY DO WE JUDGE!????

I would think that the way we measure ourselves, is how we measure others, and therefore assume how others measure you too. REALLY?

Let us say that we have standards in life!  First off, what is a standard that we use? I would believe it is by our authority that we use as a basis of comparison in life. Therefore, it is something we can use as a basis of judgement such as morals, habits, ethics, or anything considered an approved model to compare.  Close enough.

IF we use a yardstick for ourselves, we also use it to judge the rest of the world, good or bad or indifferent.

Let me talk about religion.  I recently was reflecting on how religion plays a rule in life for some people. If someone thinks that value comes from their faith in a higher power, then they will view others by THEIR faith (or lack of faith) in a higher power.  This is not fair to the others, because WHO says we are right or our religion is correct or not correct? We need not judge when it comes to religion; period!

Someone told me that it is OK to judge those that did something bad, and that is why we have police, courts, judges, and jails. I believe when someone goes outside the accepted norm of life and breaks the law, for instance, then there are rules that are in place to prosecute those offenders.  If I am on a jury, then I will judge the offender once all the facts by the prosecutor and defender of the accused are presented.  Wow, I have become a judgmental person, I guess.

There are many instances where we can say that judging is NOT wrong! There are many ways to show how we measure ourselves against others, and I will leave with this thought.

Judge not, lest ye be judged!

Den Betts

Cross Experience 2017-18

                                                Cross Experience  2017-18

This past weekend gave us insight again, on how our Savior lived, died and was resurrected to give us the promise of eternal life.  So be it.

One of the songs we sang at Celebration Lutheran Church, was “Where You There When They Crucified Our Lord”. That song always get to me.  It is somewhat of a sad song, with much meaning.

I was meditating today and the scene of the crucifixion was imprinted on my mind. I started to remember the Scripture writings of the experience that our Lord, Jesus Christ went through.

In this respect, I WAS THERE!!!! 

I could see the three crosses stuck in the holes on the hill of the Skull as it was called.  I could smell the odors of the area where death was lingering, the smell of feces and urine was present from unwanted voids from the many people that had been put to death there. 

I could hear the wailing of the people that were in attendance to observe the deaths of those on the crosses and of those to be yet hung.  The Roman guards had a long list of those that required them to put to death.  It was not a nice scene or one to be a part of at that time.

The three on the crosses were there as described.  They were attached to the wooden trees with iron stakes that impaled their wrists to the horizontal beam. This helped to prevent the victim to pull loose and fall to the ground. It was not a pretty sight to see and I was emotional about it.

I was a spectator, and as such, I somewhat also had freedom to move around the area, which was strange to know and do at the time.  I did so.

I went past one of the three and looked up at him. At that moment he was not moving, or making any comments.  He looked ghastly and drawn and near death.

I finally arrived at the cross of Jesus Christ.  I hesitated to look up at Him.  I looked at one of the guards and he eyed me to see what I was going to do, if anything.

Jesus looked down at me.  He focused his look right at me.  He cocked His head and whispered something to me and I strained to hear.   He repeated it, and I got closer to Him and heard.  He said, “I know who you are”.   He said the exact same thing to me when I was observing Him get baptized, by John the Baptist, which I have reported on before. 

This statement startled me! It made me think of the baptism and what I saw then.  I was an observer then, as I was at the cross, and it made me think of myself and my relationship with God and Jesus.

I stood with mouth open and eyes open, looking up at Jesus. Then, I saw that by looking down at me it caused the crown of thorns placed on his head to move and disturb the wound they made.  A drop of blood formed on one of the thorns and I watched as it rolled down the cluster of wooden spikes in His head. 

Then it dropped toward me.  I watched as it sped to meet me at the bottom of the cross. I did not move. It continued falling and SPLAT, it hit me on my forehead.  I backed up away from the cross. I continued backing until I came to a boulder, behind me. 

I looked up at Jesus and my eyes teared and I wept.  His look was one of compassion and love and His head nodded up and down.

I thought of today’s Eucharist communion practice where we hear, “This is the body, given for us, then this is the blood shed for us”.   I raised my hand and touched my forehead where the drop of blood from my Savior Jesus Christ had landed.

My finger found the spot and it came away red with the liquid life of Jesus.  I looked at it and then I did something that was foreign to me, I kissed my finger where the blood was smeared on the tip of my finger. 

I, at that time, felt the Presence of God be a part of me.  His blood that he shed, was shared with me.  I knew at that moment what it was all about.  He, Jesus Christ DID die for me, DID give me the opportunity to live forever in paradise with Him.

I was blessed with His presence in person before at what I called The Happening, I had experienced His presence before after I had the stupor, I in my prayerful meditation had once again had His presence be brought to me like, when He was baptized my John the Baptist in the Jordon River.

Oh, my God, my God, how can I thank you for your blessings!

Peace be with you all

Dennis Betts

The Cross 2017-19

                                                                             The Cross    2017-19 

This is what I have published before in 2014, and represents what I feel about “The Cross”, which I wear to remind me who I am, what I am and why I am in relation to God. The cross is, like I state, a symbol, but to me, also, a way of life now.

Easter is a few days from now. I heard a man refer to it as “Resurrection Day”. That was interesting, as Easter is a day when we do remember Jesus on the Cross, but Resurrection Day is the day where it all comes together and is why we are Christians, and why we have the promise of eternal life, and not just the life we live here on Earth.

The Cross

A symbol to some, a statement for

others, a means of expression;

a way of telling a belief of

the mind in a way using no words.

 

A simplistic unadorned object

from the earth, representing a

means, a way of reaching the

universe, the heavens above.

 

An object signifying pain

and death, of cruelty beyond

description, but promising a

life of joy beyond belief.

 

A sign of a son of God

of suffering for the sons

and daughters of the Father

for the promise of eternal life.

 

Den Betts

 

Broken World!?!- Then and Now? 2017-17

Broken World!?!-  Then and Now? 2017-17

I have heard the words “Broken World” in relation to our existing Earthly existence several times lately. It has to do with world events, the way we look at things, sometimes regarding religion, but is not a Wikipedia source to examine.

I can handle the ways it is used to describe how things are now.  We have many instances to use as a reason to call our world broken today. 

I think of just the past one hundred years leading up to today that can be used as examples. The WWI, the WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, the Iraq/Afghan War, the various mini skirmishes all over the world that have been highlighted, all are part of man’s actions that have put us at jeopardy in living a decent life.  This week we had an escalation in Syria with the air attack in Syria due to chemical bombs by the Assad regime against civilians.  

Those are wars/incidents involving man against man, nation against nation, and show us just how uncivilized we are to one another. Granted, many were started by an individual that created a reason to begin fighting one another.  They gave us justification to begin the art of war towards others.  Pearl Harbor is an example, of a nation starting something they could not finish, due to many reasons.

Little things like the drug war (?) being waged against the opiate epidemic, street crime, gang warfare in the cities, show just how we fight, fight, fight one another. I am not claiming we should NOT act toward “the others” that do things badly, just stating that we indeed, live in a broken world. 

This is NOT new. Go back through time and it is obvious that the world has been broken for a long time. I think of this current “Lenten season” where we take pause and recap what happened to a man/God named Jesus Christ.  He lived in a broken world of His time.  Rome had taken over the Jerusalem area and were in control. Thousands of Jews were killed on crosses and left there as a reminder of just who oversaw the area; the Romans.  Zealot Jews were fighting against the Romans. It was probably not a good time to live in this area of discord. 

I thought about this and realize that things are what they are and don’t change, even when a Messiah is claimed by those that followed Him.  We still have a broken world of people that have FREE WILL to do or not to do something.  The promise of Jesus was salvation. That means not about today, but about later when we can look forward with eternal life with God. 

If this is not appealing to some, so be it.  We still must suffer the consequences of life today, while living on Earth! If the hereafter is not something we care about, we will find out if we should have considered it now. 

I am not looking forward to dying, but when I do die, I hope and pray that I am selected to live with God forever, afterwards.  It will be neat to talk to those preceding me and to find out some genealogical facts of life, they experienced.

A broken world must be lived in. We do NOT have much of a choice right now.

Peace,

Den Betts