JIM'S TOP TEN POSTS
15 THINGS JESUS DIDN'T SAY
"For God was so disgusted with the world and you that he gave his one and only Son."
"I have come to bring you a new religion."
"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have correct theology."
"If anyone would come after me, let him disparage all other religions and their followers."
"If you love me, you will regularly attend church a minimum of three times a week."
"Blessed are the withers for they shall be called the children of God."
"Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in heaven after the earth goes up in flames and is destroyed."
"You have heard it said, 'Love your neighbor,' which means the people you go to church with and relate to in your Christian sub-culture."
"In my Father's house there are a limited number of rooms. But no worries, there is plenty of room in Hell."
"The kingdom of God has come!... Well, not exactly. Let's face it, the really good stuff comes after you die. Hang in there. It won't be long."
"And you will know the truth and the truth will make you superior to all the other simpletons who never learned Greek or Hebrew."
"But seek ye first a robust system of capitalism, and fret not over its exploitation of the vulnerable and earth's natural resources."
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you a checklist of things to do and not do in order to remain in God's favor."
"The poor will always be with us, that's just the way it goes, it's never going to change, it's a losing cause, some people can't be helped."
"He appeared to his disciples over a period of 40 days and spoke to them about how to incorporate his life and teaching as a 501(c)3, and go into the earth to build mega-churches in his name."
NOT TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT ON YOUR SPIRITUAL JOURNEY
As people shed religion and walk in freedom, they can feel guilt about the changes they are going through. Thinking about this I identified 5 things not to feel guilty about on your spiritual journey.
You may discontinue your active involvement in a church or religious organization. This doesn’t necessarily have to be some sort of judgment or condemnation against the church or organization you were part of, but a choice you make because your involvement no longer relates to or supports where you are on the journey, or may be an obstacle and hindrance to it.
You may grow weary of incessant God talk. It’s possible there will be times when you grow sick of the constant theological discussion and debate, and the never-ending wheel of new and improved concepts, beliefs, understandings, teachings, etc. At some point it all might sound like, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…” You might fall dead to the need to be constantly figuring out things with your mind or in your head. One day you might wake up and say, “Okay, I’m done!” Don’t feel bad about this. It actually may be a very important milestone in your spiritual journey. In my view, theology is not even the best way by which God and spiritual truth is known. It may be that subject of “God” as a whole feels a bit overdone and boring, but this is only because you were taught to equate God with all that blah blah blah stuff.
You may find that the very people your religion judged and condemned are the people you find the most interesting and enjoyable. Once you come out from under the judgmental labels, views and stereotypes you learned through religion, you start realizing how much you truly like and enjoy the people you were taught to hate. This is a good and liberating aspect of shedding religion. For too long you were shut yourself off from a lot of beautiful and extraordinary people in this world to enjoy and learn from.
You may find and express a rebellious or defiant part of you that has been dormant. Don’t feel bad about this. Too often religion turns people into nice, complaint, repressed, timid, inhibited, mannerly, obedient, fearful, amiable, submissive people. By the way, I would not use any of these words to describe Jesus. Here’s the deal, you can be a loving, compassionate, respectful and kind person AND be a rebellious, defiant, passionate, disobedient, subversive, nonconformist, mischievous, self-willed, fully expressed, freethinker, heretic, and free spirit human being.
You may find less fulfillment in religious things, and more satisfaction in human things. It’s okay and good to be human, and to enjoy each moment of your human journey. Religion caused many people to create a false division between “sacred” things and “secular” things. There is no such line. All of life is sacred, spiritual, and divine. There’s no need to defend, theologize, or spiritualize your human experience. Just live it! That is enough. Life is made complete by you living each moment. There’s no need to maintain a running commentary about how God is part of it. God IS part of it. Life and God are inseparable. End of story. It’s okay to enjoy life, experience delight and pleasure, do the things you enjoy doing, and that breathe life into you, whatever those things may be.
20 GOOD IDEAS
(Whatever you believe about God)
Do not do to others what you would not
want them to do to you.
In all things, strive to cause no harm.
Affirm the inherent and equal worth of every human being.
Treat your fellow human beings and all living things with love, compassion, honesty, kindness, and respect.
Build a world that works for everyone. Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.
Live life with a sense of joy and wonder.
Always seek to be learning something new.
Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.
Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; alwaysrespect the right of others to disagree with you. Agree to disagree.
Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason andexperience;do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others. Give people the freedom to also think for themselves, and form their own views.
Do not blindly follow authority. Question everything.
Refuse the “us” and “them” mentality,” and consider yourself and all others as members of one human family.
Whatever your religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs, views, or tradition, honor above all else the underlying and unifying values of love, compassion, and respect.
Affirm the goodness you see and experience in others.
Love yourself. Have compassion, and be kind to yourself. Find peace within yourself. Give yourself permission to be a fully and authentically self-expressed person, and an expression of that love, compassion, and peace.
Be mindful especially of those who are often overlooked, forgotten, and those who suffer in silence or languish in need. Be an advocate and friend to these.
Be aware of the world’s children, and the difficulties
and challenges of making their way in this life.
Whenever it is in your power, do what will encourage, empower, and protect a child, and let them know that they are beautiful and loved.
Do not become forgetful of those who are near their journey’s end. Honor your elders, love them, be with them, learn from them, care for them, and express gratitude
for the lives they have lived.
Follow, honor, express, and share what you most deeply believe, but never allow this to become a source of pride, hatred, division, or the diminishment of
other human beings.
Don’t just exist, live and live fully! Receive each day as a gift, be present in each moment.
PARENTING TEENS TOWARD LIBERATION
Let your kids know that what is often passed off as “Christian,” may not be anything close to the true meaning and significance of Jesus.
Let your kids know that it’s okay to question what they hear. Encourage and help them become critical, independent, and free thinkers.
Let your kids know that being “spiritually mature” is not necessarily keeping the rules, but could just as easily be breaking them.
Let your kids know that they can have confidence in what they most deeply feel and know is true inside. Many kids hear a theology in church that violates the spirit of truth inside them.
Create a safe space for your kids to be authentic and real. Stop judging them based on what they “should” be thinking, feeling, and experiencing, and get interested in what they actually are thinking, feeling, and experiencing.
Let them know that being “good” doesn’t automatically mean being obliging, docile, meek, inhibited, compliant, restrained, etc. but can also mean being passionate, original, subversive, nonconformist, and contrary.
Instill in your kids the non-negotiables such as love, compassion, and the inherent and equal divine worth of every human being. Talk to them about the religious falsehoods they will often hear along the way such as separation from God.
Let your kids know that all of life is spiritual, and that life and God are inseparable. Show them that they don’t need to go chasing God, but to only open their eyes to see God in, through, and as all things that happen along the everyday paths of their life.
Help your kids understand the root cause of suffering, and the true source of peace, freedom, and well-being.
Don’t think you know everything. Be willing to see and understand the world through their eyes and experiences. They have much to teach you.
Stop judging what they are doing as “wrong.” Steve Jobs was a legend and hero for being immersed in technology, and yet we tell our kids that they are ruining their lives by being on their phone or computer too much.
The world is no longer what it was when you were growing up; it’s time to truly understand their world.
Tell your kids everyday that you love them unconditionally. Find them doing things that are right and good. Tell them they are beautiful inside and out… and be specific about what you see that is good and beautiful about them. Let them see the passion and rebel in you.
Maybe break a few rules with them :)
WHAT SPIRITUAL IS...
IS UP TO YOU
What makes you come alive?
What satisfies you most deeply?
What fills you up?
What makes you come alive?
What brings you joy?
What centers you?
What is a source of delight and pleasure for you?
What areas, fields, or subjects are you interested in exploring?
What makes you feel connected to yourself?
What moves you to tears?
What forms of self-expression are the most gratifying?
What would your sense of adventure tell you to do?
What way of being in the world resonates most deeply with your heart?
Where does your sense of curiosity take you?
What rouses a sense of rebellion against the status quo?
How are you most compelled to aid the liberation of others?
Where in life are you inspired to be an expression of acceptance and compassion?
What nurtures a greater love for yourself and others?
How does the spirit of human solidarity move you to action?
What are your deepest feelings telling you to express or do?
The answers to these questions is a good place to start in determining what “spirituality” means for you.
5 REASONS WHY NOT TO JUDGE PEOPLE
You don’t know what is going on inside another person.
How many times have you been asked how you are, and said “fine,” even though you weren’t? We all know this is true. We mask our pain. We suffer in silence. We put on the happy/smiley face when we are dying inside. Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean another person isn’t hurting. A person’s actions or behaviors may not be any indication of what is going on inside of them.
People are doing the best they can.
I know this is sometimes difficult to believe about another person. I get that. It’s hard for me at times to believe that about others. But think about it. You know it’s true. It’s complicated! Life is complicated! People are complicated! There are a lot of moving parts inside and outside a person. Aren’t we all a little off, carrying pain, unhealed wounds, ways we protect ourselves, and other dysfunctions we have picked up a long the way?
You don’t have all the answers.
At times we can look at another person’s life and just see all this stupid stuff it appears they’re doing. On the outside looking in, another person’s life seems pretty cut and dry to us in terms of what they should be doing or not doing or how they are handing a situation or whatever. It’s amazing how quickly we turn into the infallible personal life coach when it comes to another person’s life!
Being judged hurts.
It’s quite possible that the most painful human feeling is one of being judged. There’s so much involved – silent pain; being misunderstood; rejection in the very moment we most need understanding, love and acceptance.
Every human being is worth love and acceptance.
Judging people often leads to objectifying them. People are not objects. A suicide happens every 20 seconds. People will often show up in our lives at the end of their rope… hanging on by a thread. The expression of love, acceptance, understanding and kindness to someone who is struggling or hurting may be the difference between them giving up on themselves and life or finding the courage and hope to keep living.
I MADE AS A SENIOR PASTOR
Putting church over community.
Putting orthodoxy over love.
Putting certainty over wonder.
Putting teaching over conversation.
Putting polished over real.
Putting answers over questions.
Putting membership over friendship.
Putting Christianity over Christ.
Putting knowledge over action.
Putting style over substance.
Putting appearance over authenticity.
Putting functionality over beauty.
Putting religion over spirituality.
Putting numbers over faces.
Putting holiness over humanity.
Putting accountability over acceptance.
Putting heaven over earth.
Putting meetings over relationships.
Putting reputation over risk.
Putting charisma over compassion.
Putting the Afterlife over the Herelife.
Putting thinking over feeling.
10 WAYS JESUS MATTERS, WHATEVER YOU BELIEVE
1. Jesus both affirmed what was good and confronted what was wrong in his own religious tradition.
2. Jesus taught that love is and should be the ultimate fulfillment of all religious teaching.
3. Jesus pointed out the hypocrisy of claiming a close relationship with God while perpetuating discord and hostility in human relationships.
4. Jesus confronted the mentality of judging others, and instead told people to look in the mirror.
5. Jesus taught a human solidarity where every person sees themselves as a “neighbor” to those in need.
6. Jesus extended love, compassion and friendship to all people without condition.
7. Jesus affirmed the inherent and equal worth of all human beings, regardless of their status or place in the world.
8. Jesus confronted systemic oppression and took on institutional power structures that perpetuated it.
9. Jesus did not seek to convert people to any religion or belief-system but challenged his followers to embrace and follow the spirit of love within themselves.
10. Jesus affirmed that every person has the responsibility and authority to build a world of peace and harmony that works for everyone.
5 WAYS THE POP-CHRISTIAN "GOSPEL" DAMAGES CHILDREN
Telling children that they are born into this world intrinsically bad, absent of inherent worth, and repulsive to God.
Telling children that their sinfulness is so bad that it left God no choice but to brutalize, torture and kill his son.
Telling children that there is nothing good inside of them and that they should not trust their thoughts and feelings.
Using fear or shame as a means of binding children to certain beliefs or practices related to God.
Teaching children that the rejection, hatred or diminishment of other human beings is an expression of devotion to God.
5 THOUGHTS ON HOW TO ARGUE WITH A FUNDAMENTALIST
True conversation involves two willing participants who are open to learning from each other. Where these dynamics are not present, seriously weigh if it's worth it. Typically in these cases, people are just arguing their position, and have no intention of considering anything outside it. Consider whether you really want to invest a lot of energy in an interaction that is nothing more than the drama of someone who just wants to argue.
2. STATE YOUR TRUTH AND LET IT GO.
People who want to argue like having the last word. Why? Because they thrive on conflict and drama, and exerting their superiority. Go ahead and express your truth fully, or state your disagreement. But after that, be willing to let it go. As a way of ending such conversations I will sometimes tell someone that they certainly have a right to their opinion, but that I don't agree with it. Don't get triggered by the common tactic of someone telling you that there view has authority and yours is only opinion. You can do your best to point out the insanity of this, but they likely won't see it, at least not in that moment.
3. DON'T MAKE IT PERSONAL.
Sometimes people will state things that in my view are completely unfounded, and I will feel the need to state otherwise. What helps me in these cases is not to write it as a personal rebuttal to the person who said it, but as an explanation for others who might be following the exchange. Sometimes I just can't leave certain comments alone without a response for the benefit of other readers.
4. TRY TO LEAVE A SNARKY CONVERSATION, WITH A POSITIVE VIBE.
Sometimes this is not possible, but whenever you can, make an attempt to leave a difficult conversation with goodwill. It's often the case that two people have meaningful things in common outside the religious arena.
5. HAVE COMPASSION.
People are insistent and argumentative because their identity and security is anchored in their belief system. It's a very fearful scenario to have their beliefs questioned and challenged. Most people's beliefs are attached to their family and cultural background, and therefore very difficult to change, even in the face of conflicting evidence. Maybe you can even remember once being this way yourself. Remember how threatening it can be for someone who is having their beliefs scrutinized. Have compassion.