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

Religion Issues 2015-13

Many theories about spirituality and religion are stated, with those that feel that spirituality is different than religion, and is a much better way of having closeness with God. This is a separate issue that I will address in the future, but in the below discourse, I am staying with the word religion, and hit on a few items regarding this word.

Religion Issues     2015-13

“Most Americans – roughly four out of five – consider themselves to be Christians. For that majority, the past two decades have been a time of substantial religious change. Just as American society itself is in a state of substantial upheaval, so are those who declare themselves to be Christian redefining the core practices and beliefs of Christianity in America.” Barna Group (2011) See at end

I was told one time that “Religion is the problem with society today!” I did not argue with this person, because I somewhat felt that he was personally, one of the problems, because of his beliefs (or non-beliefs) and attitudes with others around him. I believe he is somewhat of a believer, but one that believes in a different way than others.

I do not feel that I am judgmental about him, but instead, just stating a fact that even he admits is true. He is what he is, and according to him is not going to change to make someone happy or have them look at him in a different way. So be it.

I think many people of various religions look at their religion as “the true religion” and exclude those of other religions as not being correct. I know of one individual who thinks this way and will not change his belief in this thought. I am an outsider to him, and as such, am not adhering to the religion he follows, therefore am not following the true thoughts that he adheres to daily. This man is a believer in Jesus Christ, but since I do not do what he thinks I should do, I am wrong and will probably go to Hell in the process; in his mind.

Instead of a meaningful relationship with each other, there is a bridge, a chasm, or divide between us that is unspoken, but there. We continue to exist with one another, but rather than discussing our differences of belief, we ignore the subject and continue as outsiders. I would love to have a talk with him and discuss things, but we cannot be part of a larger whole and remain apart. We are like tribal, clannish people that exist, but with distrust and without a feeling of true friendship.

When I think of the Christian beliefs and various denominations, I think of man-made rules, dogma and ways of following Jesus that make us Christians in name, but not true followers in a way that Jesus would want us to be. Think of any two Christian religions and you will find differences that make them unique from each other. A person is a Methodist because of the beliefs that religion follows, and a Catholic or Lutheran, or others, that have the same type of believers in their midst. I cannot say any is wrong, just stating that they believe in differences. Of course, I also believe that some people in the religion I follow do not believe all the rules and dictates of this religion, including me.  Quoting someone that I respect, “On the other hand, a commitment to rules to the detriment of a person’s relationship with Christ is also not helpful.”

The religion I follow has begun to have contact with other religions to form ecumenical agreements with them. This states that, even though we have differences, we can still get along and be true to the religion we follow. The Pastor/Priest can perform services at their church and vice-versus with the others.  Both Pastors/Priests can give communion at either church when we can all partake of the bread and wine of remembrance. We can look at ourselves as friends and not as enemies of the other religion, not that we would do so anyhow. The other church is an Episcopalian one and does have a Priest.

When did it happen that differences began to occur in religions? Over time, people began to see their religion the way they liked it and a trend began. The various sacred writings decreed some of the beliefs that go back in time to when they were written. God Himself was written as sanctifying slavery, warfare, and those that wanted an excuse or a reason, had what they needed for their religion, as they read in the written word. They did not have to change or make up anything, because it was written down and part of their belief. Men abused their women and children because it was told that they were their possessions, and therefore the men could do anything they wanted. Man could have slaves, because it said so in their holy book. They could kill others, because it was shown to them that God was on their side. The list goes on and on as to how God can be used as an excuse to do things that are against common decency. The holy scriptures of many religions are used as weapons for man’s desires.

What was written so very, very long ago does not mean that what was believed then, is now.

We, in a civilized society, do not condone having slaves today, but it was a normal process in the past. To use religion as an excuse for doing things that are looked at as barbaric today, is in itself barbaric. Even today, some religious leaders, evangelists, preachers, etc., use the writings in the Bible to give credence to their way of thinking, or at least, their way of sharing the message in scripture. Many use the Bible and recite passages from the Old Testament to expand on their thought processes. They don’t really stress the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus Christ and His way of expounding on the way that love is the answer.

  • The notion that the Bible is completely accurate in all of the principles it teaches is less popular among Protestants today (2011) . In 1991, 61% strongly believed that notion; today, 56% hold that belief. Barna Group (2011), see Sources at end

How many times have people of religious eminence or rank, stated that believing in God is a moral excellence or virtue of high importance? Of course it sounds great and coming from a person of importance it is considered, at times, just so. Having faith and believing that God works in mysterious ways and we should accept dire happenings as coming from God, does not sit too well with some. Crap happens and sometimes we have to just accept that which does, even though we do not like it. Saying that Aunt so in so, who died, is in a better place does not make sense when the common thought is she was doing well, where she was before she died. We should try not to deceive ourselves into believing that those religious leaders or any people, who state things like that, know what they are talking about. It would be very much better to pray to God and tell Him you do not understand why something happened, but still believe He is with us, and allow Him to comfort us in our despair.

Give till it hurts?

Another issue is where some religions want you to give $$$$ till it hurts. OK, not quite, but the feeling of some churches that we should give to the church and it will help the church maintain itself in all ITS glory. Then, try to find out where it goes! My church does not do this, but it is seen on TV with some churches and is perpetuated by their leaders. The church NEEDS money to exist, but the church does not need their parishioners to give, just to increase the coffers of the church or leaders of the church.

The church I attend had a fund rising to pay down the mortgage. It was very successful and we are in the middle of doing so. But, the main reason for doing this is to get out from under the payments to the mortgage holder and have money to spend on places and things that need it. One example is where we pay for a delivery of food each month to give to the needy and that is money worth spending. What is really exacting is the fact that the parishioners are continuing to pay their weekly amounts to support the church, per the budget forecast. Even though it would be terrific to see everyone, tithing 10%, I would think that is NOT going to happen. I would love to see the people give just a little more than they have been and that would be outstanding. We try to go out of our way to show just where their money ends up and I believe it is a positive way of showing generosity towards our fellow mankind.

Religions are man-made as well as those denominations that make up many of the religions today. As such, they have to survive and in the trying, come the failings at times. What was, in the past, is not how it is today. The founder of a religion had good intentions on how he wanted his way to be. Over time, things happen and his way is not THE way now. I would think that certain religions are prone to change, because of this fact. Who would have thought that a certain religion has morphed into what it is today and its beliefs are so different now. How a man thought way back when, is not how the church today thinks. Maybe, somewhat, but not exactly.

I have read, possibly from a Barna Report, an article about the Catholic religion regarding some members as becoming unchurched or as de-churched members. Many are leaving the religion for good, going to a Protestant one that does not have the rules and regulations, which upset those that leave. I am not picking on the Catholics, but do wonder how much their core ways will keep members. All religions must be aware of how they think and act, which will decide on their membership. The one problem is where members of any religion leave and do not go to another one, but instead just don’t worship at a church anymore. They become un-churched by default for the reasons they believe are correct for them to not involve themselves in any religion.

After all that I have said, I believe that there is NOT really a problem with religion itself, but instead, a problem with the people that follow the various religions that have their beliefs foremost and the religion they follow as a far distant second.

Source for some of the facts presented.

Barna Group

About Barna Group Barna Group (which includes its research division, the Barna Research Group) is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization under the umbrella of the Issachar Companies. It conducts primary research, produces media resources pertaining to spiritual development, and facilitates the healthy spiritual growth of leaders, children, families and Christian ministries. Data based on an August 4, 2011 report

Den Betts

Beware – Be Aware 2015-10

This could be a sister poem of the one I wrote titled “Apathy”; to a degree. This would be a challenge to those that feel they are in control, whereas WE are really, or should be, involved in things that occur.

Beware – Be Aware    2015-10

“Beware! Beware! The end of time is near”

So says the man with placard pointed to the sky.

A pessimist to the nth degree is he,

to give up on the hope of man today.

 

But, it should be realized that things aren’t right

Or even close to the ways the world should be.

The leaders and power players of each composite group,

Show that “they know” what is good for us all.

 

In Belfast of past, the Middle East now, South America,

Perhaps here in the U.S. too; they all think alike.

Take away their power and they will be one of us,

So no peace they say, cause a stir and unrest.

 

In the name of religion, the wars are fought, and,

In the name of heritage or culture, people die.

But, it’s also in the name of power and greed,

And continued dissent for its own sake, indeed!

 

An answer to all the troubles would leave them,

With nothing to do, no longer in charge.

If the people were to be more involved,

With the underlings helping out too.

 

Then a man could be on a street corner,

With a sign telling a different tune.

One that challenged the leaders by saying,

“Be Aware! Be Aware!, change is coming soon!”

Den Betts

Spirituality and the Holy Spirit 2014-47

 Spirituality and the Holy Spirit 2014-47

Spirituality and Religion are two words that are mentioned, frequently in the same context; that of going to a church (religious) and not going to church (but being spiritual). “I am Spiritual but not Religious,” is a statement by many that says to others, I DO believe in God, but I don’t go to church.  OK, I understand that, but what is really meant by both words? I have written the below, not to really explain the differences, but give a brief idea of the words.

Spirituality is a phrase that is part of today’s everyday life now. We have a Spirituality Director at my place of worship, who is trying to bring us closer to God via many ways.  One of our parishioners asked me at a meeting in 2013 when we hired him, “What exactly is a Spiritual Director?” This was a good question and I answered it, somewhat, at the time and I hope it gave that person and the rest of those in attendance some insight as to what a Spiritual Director actually is or does. Another member recently asked, “What will he do for us?” and we are finding out as he gets more involved.

Since then, I have been asking myself some questions about a number of things.

“Where are we as far as having Spirituality?”

“Does the Holy Spirit yearn to be included in our lives?”

“What can we do to be led by the Spirit of God?”

“What can I do personally for myself to be more spiritual” and the list goes on and on…..

I went to sources for information and the best source was by my bedside in the form of the Holy Bible, but more on that later.

Spirituality

But, before I continue, let me explain what Spirituality itself might mean:

The term spirituality lacks a definitive definition,  although social scientists have defined spirituality as the search for “the sacred,” where “the sacred” is broadly defined as that which is set apart from the ordinary and worthy of veneration. The use of the term “spirituality” has changed throughout the ages.  In modern times, spirituality is often separated from religion and connotes a blend of humanistic psychology with mystical and  traditions and eastern religions aimed at personal well-being and personal development.  The notion of “spiritual experience” plays an important role in modern spirituality, but has a relatively recent origin.

I take the meaning as a simple “Something that concerns the Spirit” – The Holy Spirit!!!!

I believe we can become spiritually connected or to feel the Holy Spirit within us. Perhaps some more than others (which is normal), but overall we have a feeling for the Holy Spirit that is part of our religious beliefs and practices.

I was also asked once, if I was religious or spiritual.  I can probably say both.   Religion is a form of “re” meaning again and the Latin “ligare” meaning ligament or a connection, so it is somewhat of a re- connecting and in the sense of belief, it is reconnecting to God every day. Religion has the meaning also of “respect for what is sacred, and reverence for God, so again, my saying I am “both” religious and spiritual, is somewhat true.

Holy Spirit

How I look at the Triune God of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit may be different than what others see or feel, but it is  not important what I perceive, but more of what we all experience.

I believe the Holy Spirit DOES yearn to be included in our lives.  Not just at church services, or when we pray to God Almighty for thanks, help or just to communicate with God.  The Holy Spirit wants to be in our hearts, our Soul and minds all the time. Simple as that!  The Holy Spirit therefore, desires to be included in your everyday thoughts, words and deeds. Simple as that!  That is what I believe. The Holy Spirit used to be referred to as the “Holy Ghost” and was from the Old English for Spirit, but in reality they have identical meanings. Ghost now generally refers to an apparition of a dead person, so it is out of style and usage and Holy Spirit is mostly a 20th century reference.

The following is taken from a letter by Brother Lawrence of the Carmelite monastery who lived from 1614 to 1691. It came from his book, “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence

Letter 7

“He requires no great matters of us; a little remembrance of Him from time to time, a little adoration. Sometimes to pray for His grace. Sometimes to offer Him your sufferings. And sometimes to return Him thanks for the favors He has given you, and still gives you, in the midst of your troubles. Console yourself with Him the oftenest you can. Lift up your heart to Him at your meals and when you are in company. The least little remembrance will always be pleasing to Him.

You need not cry very loud. The Holy Ghost is nearer to us than we are aware. And we do not always have to be in church to be with God. We may make an oratory of our heart so we can, from time to time; retire to converse with Him in meekness, humility, and love. Everyone is capable of such familiar conversation with God, some more, some less. He knows what we can do.”

   Now I ask: How can we be led by the Holy Spirit?

First let me describe the Holy Spirit:  The Holy Spirit is seen by most Christians as one part of the Triune God, who revealed His Holy Name, YHWH, to His people of Israel, who sent His eternally begotten son Jesus to save them from their sins, and sent the Holy Spirit to sanctify and give life to His Church.  The Triune God manifests as three persons,  in one divine being called the Godhead,  the Divine Essence of God.

An important verse in the Bible (Romans 8:14) states, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”  The sons of God are led by the Holy Spirit in this life. Again, The before mentioned, “sacred” is broadly defined as that which is set apart from the ordinary and worthy of veneration as part of the Spiritual awakening in our lives.

We CAN develop a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit!! Just as we pray to God and Jesus Christ at church service or daily on our own, we can and are allowed to communicate with the Holy Spirit.  Let me use the apostle Paul as a source for this thought:

  1. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the                                      Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)
  2. “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship                              of the Spirit …” (Phillippians 2:1)

The two words, communion and fellowship, again, means a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. Not only can we develop a close personal relationship with both God the Father and Jesus Christ, but these two additional verses are telling us that we can also develop a close personal relationship direct with the Holy Spirit Himself. How wonderful that can be for all of us!

Not only can we develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit, but we can also have the Holy Spirit be our personal guide and teacher in this life we live.   Again, I use the Holy Bible as my source for this thought:

  • “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”  

 

  1. (John14:26)
  2. “However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth …” (John 16:13)

The great thing is this regarding having a relationship with God, which IS the basis of Spiritualtiy. There is NOTHING you have to do to have a relationship with Him and you cannot do anything to merit having one.  We will have an eternal life with God (a relationship) because Jesus died for all of us. Having faith in Jesus Christ gives us the promise of eternal life. That is a wonderful thing and something to relate to in our daily lives.

When the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit will “teach us all things” and “guide us into all truth,” this tells us that the Holy Spirit has the ministry with each one of us as being our personal Guide and Teacher in this life. And if He is going to be our personal Guide and Teacher in this life, then this means He will start to communicate to us, so He can teach us what He wants to teach us. And our part will then be to learn how He will communicate to us so we can pick up that communication when He does start to release it to us. At this point I will encourage you to read my discourse on “Communicating with the Holy Spirit”, in my next blog.

Put these two verses together with the first two verses above about having direct fellowship and direct communion with the Holy Spirit and you can tell that God is letting all of us know loud and clear that we can enter into this supernatural realm with the Holy Spirit. If God is telling us that the Holy Spirit will be guiding us and teaching us in this life, then we can comfortably enter into that realm with Him so He can then begin to do that kind of deeper work with each one of us.

I would like to continue, but enough is enough for now.  Spirituality is something we will delve into with in various ways.  I welcome his knowledge, his education and experience in this realm of being with the Holy Spirit, the Son Jesus Christ and the Father in Heaven.   It will be up to us to reach out and experience any teachings for guidance.

Thank you for your time.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always!

Den Betts