Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
The phrase, “find your own path” seems to stir up images of rebellion and insubordination towards God from the more fundamental crowds of Christianity. I think this verse above from Proverbs is probably most common in the thought that trusting in ourselves is a dangerous thing to do, and that we should only, and exclusively trust in the Lord. While I do not disagree with the idea of being at peace with God in your decision, I believe it is strongly important that you also have an inner peace within yourself about your decision. Feelings “from God” can vary over time. I do not want to suggest that God cannot or would not speak to someone if he so chose. However, I want to caution against making life changing decisions based on lining up Bible verses with a date that your milk expires and assuming that is a message from God.
“Listen to your own voice, your own soul. Too many people listen to the noise of the world, instead of themselves.” – Leon Brown
When I was 15 I felt strongly that God was “calling me” into the preaching ministry. I do have a gift with public speaking, and it is something I enjoy doing, and so I think this translated from my worldview of the church into the idea that the preaching ministry was what I was supposed to do with my life. I am not trying to say that this would not be an honorable thing to do, however, I do not know that it is something that someone has to do with their life in order to serve God. The ironic thing is that it is this same fundamental Christian churches that caused me to believe this rigid structure, that ultimately led me to question this rigid, fundamental idea. After getting a divorce many years ago, I then married another woman. I have been married to my wife nine years now, and we have three kids out of this marriage. However, I saw judgment from over a dozen churches throughout the country that suggested that because I was divorced I could no longer serve in ministry. They use a verse in the letters to Timothy to support this where the Bible suggest that a “Bishop” should be the husband “of one wife”(some think this simply means one wife at a time, while others think this means you can only ever be married one time). However, there is also scripture that supports the idea of God’s sovereignty, which fundamental Christians supposedly believe in strongly (as do I), and suggest that Gods callings (i.e. ministry) are “without repentance” (meaning God knew when he called me that I would end up divorced, and yet he called me anyway. In other words, God is not regretting his decision to call me into the ministry. I did not surprise God). The reality is that everyone can find a verse to support their viewpoints (see The Author of Confusion, Part 1; Salvation: Baptism, and The Author of Confusion, Part 1b; Salvation: Baptism, which kind?). Everyone comes at various situations with presuppositions already in their minds. Someone from the Piney Woods of East Texas looks at the world through a completely different lens then someone from Hong Kong, China, or New York City. I can say with personal confidence that the mindset of people from upstate New York (very rural), varies greatly from people down in Manhattan. It is vital to realize that we must chose our own way in life, because opinions from people of all cultures will vary depending on where they are, and have been, in their own life.
Be at peace with God, please! However, do not neglect being at peace within yourself as well. I believe that God honors that, and will love us through all of our decisions. Do not stress yourself out over what God would have you do. We need to keep our morals in check, and strive to better those around us. However, outside of that we need to do what makes us happy as individuals. So, get out there and make your own path. If there is no path, then be the trendsetter, be the leader. If you feel that this is where you need to go, go do it.
Never look back on your past decisions, once you have learned your lesson from them, because you can never remake them. You can only make decisions for today, in this moment.
Great read from a very insightful writer.
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For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (2Co 4:17 KJV)
I often hear, and have read in several books about these miracles that people experience giving them reason to believe in a god. I always find this very interesting because it always seems to be either something that is very circumstantial like praying for rain, and it rains (as if it cannot rain without prayer), or it is something that had a lot of instrumental human work involved (getting healthier from an ailment after doctors, and nurses worked tirelessly to get that person better). Nevertheless, millions of people around the world assume, or at least hope that their prayers are both being heard, and answered by some god to perform some miracle in their lives. It is probably the deduction that a god is still involved somehow, when those prayers are not answered the way we were hoping, that most astonishes me. As the verse above references, we are supposed to realize that the pain of this world is going to be outweighed by the glories we will have in the next life. These are the kind of statements that make me really questions the Christians go to statement of “What do you have to lose by becoming a Christian”? Well, for one, my actual life. Somehow I am supposed to accept that god will answer little Jimmy’s prayer asking for a bicycle on Christmas morning from Santa, but not answer a Mothers cries for god to save her baby from some illness.
Generally, a miracle is something that is considered to be pretty rare. So, even if someone was in advanced medical care, if the doctors claim they are stunned they came out alive, this is somehow a miracle, and must mean that there is a god. I genuinely find this hard to believe. After all, I think that what is missing in this equation is the reality that “negative miracles” happen also. It is rare that you would die in a plane crash, yet people do, is this to be considered a miracle? It is rare that you would die from a mosquito bite, but people do, should they praise god for their “miracle”? Rare things happen everyday, even complex, rare things happen everyday. There always seems to be this desire to force a creator where a creator is not needed. I understand that a long time ago men and women had to look up at the sky and wonder what those little shiny things were, and that big night light. I realize that during the day they had to have wondered what brought on the heat, and light of the day, and what brought the rain and the storms. We do not have these problems anymore. I realize that when there was no medical intervention as an option that we had to rely on the gods to hopefully cure our loved ones. Certainly today there are still things that are out of the doctors hands, and it is left to whatever is out there. However, that does not mean something has to be out there, just because we are left without answers. It is sad when we try and attribute things in our lives to a god, whether that be “positive” miracles, or “negative” miracles. If it is positive, you are blessed, if it is negative, you are sinning. There is no reason to give ourselves over to this idea that everything that happens to us is a part of some god in the sky dictating our plans. What do you have to lose to follow god? An appreciation for this life as being the one and only chance we have to live.
The Atheist Preacher
Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Mat 10:28 CSB)
Choosing the term atheist for myself is both difficult, and freeing. It is only difficult because of the way this term is “demonized”. It is difficult because it is such a controversial term. It is said that if a politician was to define themselves as atheist in this country that it would be considered political suicide. I realize that what a person believes reveals something about their character, and so for people who believe 100% of the bible, and that it is inspired, and inerrant, that the bible declares the character of an atheist to be a “fool” (Ps. 14:1; Ps. 53:1). Therefore, I get the presumption that a persons character is immediately limited by this declaration that “god does not exist”. However, shouldn’t a persons character be defined by their actions, not by what they believe? A belief in god, or lack thereof does not guarantee someones character at all. Look no further then the catholic priest scandal across the world. The term, “break every chain” I have heard used numerous times to explain what the relationship with Jesus will do for a person. I want to explain here the burden, and the chains, that come along with this Jesus, and how free thought will literally “break every chain” from your mind, and life.
The bible is full of verses which are intended to instill fear into its readers, and the verse above is no different. The Greek word used for fear here is “φοβεῖσθε”, or “Phobeo” which means “to put to flight by terrifying (to scare away)”. Let’s be honest, the entire concept of god, especially the christian god (I mainly say that because this is the one I am most familiar with) is entirely about accept him, or go to hell. I can hear the liberal Christians screaming now, “I don’t believe in hell”, “God loves you just as you are”. I am afraid that to sincerely believe that, you have to accept that the bible is not inerrant (bold, and wonderful thing to do), and that scripture is meant to be taken as more of a guide then literal (once again very wonderful thing to do). However, then I would just simply ask, what is the point in believing at all? The second, most common reason I hear for believing in a god is because an individual does not want to give up the hope that there is life after death. A couple thoughts on this. First, I personally have zero issues with someone believing in something that makes them happy. It is when they allow that belief to dictate how someone else is supposed to live that I have an issue. I have several issues with belief obviously, but this would be my main gripe.
There is a term in the atheist circle called FANG, the “Freewill Argument for the Nonexistence of God”. I read this first from Dan Barkers book, godless, which is a phenomenal book by a former evangelical christian who became an atheist through knowledge. The basic premise of this argument is that surely we would all accept that “God” must have freewill. However, if you believe that “God” is omniscient, knowing all, how can he have free will? You cannot choose in the future if you “know” already what you will choose. Additionally, “God” is described as omnipotent, meaning having unlimited power. “God” cannot be both omnipotent and omniscient. If your “God” is both omnipotent, and omniscient then your “God” does not exist. I know that the more fundamental Christians will claim that this is where “faith” comes in, realizing that “his ways are higher than our ways”. That is simply where I call B.S. I am sorry, but you cannot have it both ways. To the person who is contemplating their faith, their beliefs, I share with you that no matter what your Christian upbringing may have taught you, and no matter what the “preacher” preached about Sunday morning (or Saturday night), your chains are the indoctrination of religion making you think that you have done something so morally reprehensible that you deserve hell fire. Listen, you may have, I do not know everyone personally, so maybe you do deserve hell if there was one. I certainly agree that if there is a heaven and a hell, that people like Saddam Hussein, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Billy Graham should be in hell (that last name was just tongue in cheek by the way). The reality though, is that there is no hell, and you simply need to live this life in a way that you can be happy with your life.
“If you genuinely want to break the chains in your life, do not look to Jesus, or a god, the bible, or any mysticism. If you really want to break those chains, look within yourself. You obtain the power, and the ability to break those chains.”
The other reality is that you live in a society, so your opinion is not the only one that matters (something Christians often push, their opinion). We do have laws, morals, and ethics which we created. The thing is, they seem to mostly make sense to me, as I think they do to most people. Even so, we have laws that are severely flawed. Our justice system here in the USA is severely lacking in so many areas, especially one supposedly based on the “good book”.
If you genuinely want to break the chains in your life, do not look to Jesus, or a god, the bible, or any mysticism. If you really want to break those chains, look within yourself. You obtain the power, and the ability to break those chains. That is not to say you may not need help at times, but that is where actual, physical people can be there for you (even the atheist ones). There are cruel people, and what they believe generally has very little to do with whether or not they are cruel or good. You will hear a Christian ask, “who defines good?”, to which I can confidently reply, “we do”. I, you, we do not owe an explanation to some invisible god in the sky. You owe an explanation to yourself. If there is something you need to change in your life, change it. If there is something you are unhappy about in your life, do something about it. Get up off your ass, and get moving. If you genuinely cannot help yourself, then ask for help! Not from a god, but from people. I hope you all have a wonderful day! Break those chains!
The Godless Preacher
I come to you with a sincere heart, an open, and clear mind. I want to make sure that I am being honest with all of you about what I believe. I know that many of you came to know me as the “preacher” of the Christian Bible, and I am not that man any longer. I do not want to be deceitful or ask any of you to continue to be involved in my life if this makes you uncomfortable. I know that for many, this will not come as a surprise, but by definition I would now consider myself an atheist. I know how many of you feel about your faith, and so I do not want to take this letter to dismiss your faith, but to simply exclaim that I do not find any evidence for the existence of any God, much less, the Christian God.
There will be, no doubt, many who will try and explain away this decision. There will be many who will decide that I must have never been genuinely saved to begin with, which is not true at all. There will be many who will explain that maybe I simply had a misunderstanding of my faith, I am afraid this is not true either. I am not hurt, I am not angry, I am not being selfish, I am not “cold”, I do not “hate God”, I am not choosing to not believe because I am wanting to ignore morality. I simply find no evidence of God. This is not a season, this is not something that will pass. I did not arrive to this point overnight. I have been having these doubts for a very long time, but only recently started becoming more confident of what I believe to the point of sharing my thoughts. I am remaining, and hope to always remain open to the ability to believe in God, if he would show evidence of his existence. I would love for the “doubting Thomas” experience to be mine. If Jesus appeared to me and let me touch his nail pierced hands I would believe. However, I am not going to hold my breath for that to happen.
You may wonder why I feel a need to share this with anyone. I would simply present to you the same question, but in reverse. Why do you feel it necessary to share that you are a Christian? Why do you find it necessary to share bible verses every day on your social media? Why do you find it necessary to suggest that the most important thing about a person is that they believe in God, specifically the Christian God? I have already been hurt however. Not by my lack of belief in God, but instead in people who were my family that in a very Christian way, chose to tell me they do not ever want to see my “fucking face” ever again. That certainly hurt. I have been hurt by my “family” suggesting that my children are in danger because I do not believe in the same God they do, and even worse, support black people. I am not worried about hell, because I do not believe in hell (which ironically a lot of Christians do not either). The reason I have to tell people is because I am a reason that many believe in God. My wife was not a fundamental Christian until she met me. She believed in God, even the Christian God, but she was not fundamental in her beliefs. I, on the other hand, was very fundamental. Frustrated that my fellow Christians could not get more serious about their faith. Wanting, so desperately to convince these people to stop giving into worldly temptations and give “everything” over to God. These Christians of “little faith” annoyed me to no end. All that I could think about were the lukewarm believers that are mentioned in the bible. I could not understand how these people could be so comfortable with their lives of sin, and still coming into church every week to not change a thing.
Where I am at now, I realize that the reason a person could do that, is because none of it is true. This is not why it is not true, just simply one of the many evidences that it is not. I still find reason for living, after all if this is the only life I have, I absolutely want to make it count. I have not changed, I still have a desire to preach the “truth”. Which is why I must continue to share, continue to speak, and continue to write. I want others to know that they are not alone in their doubts, and if they could rescue themselves from the burden that is the fundamental Christian cult then that would be great. I love you all, and I hope that you all can know that I am sincerely sorry if I have hurt any of you. I am now the “Atheist Preacher”. If this is not something you can listen to, or be a part of, I understand, but it does make me sad. It lets me know how shallow our friendship was. It lets me know that outside of my Christian faith that I once held, you cared nothing for me as an individual. For what it is worth, I would love to continue to be your friend, and know how life is going. Thank you for reading, and participating in my life. You all have shaped me into who I am today, and while I know some may take that as an insult, I mean it as a compliment.
The Atheist Preacher
“Since God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” –1 Corinthians 14:33, CSB–
I have used the verse above for every post on this topic of confusion. If you are just now joining my blog, follow along with this particular topic by reading, The Author of Confusion, Part 1; Salvation: Baptism, The Author of Confusion, Part 1b; Salvation: Baptism, which kind?, and for a little deeper background you can read My main question: Who is the way?. The word used from the Christian Standard Bible here is “disorder”, instead of confusion, but the same principle applies. The reason that I use this scripture is because of the specific instances in scripture that are translated differently to mean different things depending on what denominational structure you fall into. In this particular chapter, the context of that verse is on the issue of speaking in tongues. Very appropriate for what I am discussing on this blog, because the issue of spiritual gifts has long been a controversial issue. I know many people who follow along the “Pentecostal” belief that state unless you have been “baptized by the Holy Spirit” then you are not walking close enough to God. I have even heard it suggested that unless you possess these spiritual gifts in some form (speaking in tongues, healing, prophecy, and other gifts of the spirit), then you are not genuinely saved. Here we arrive at our first supposed “evidence of salvation”:
Verses that discuss the evidence of our salvation are in abundance, and so are the ways in which we are supposed to interpret them. It really comes down to what you “want” to believe, more then who is right or wrong. Speaking in tongues, prophecies, healing with hands and prayer sure are miraculous, but they are also very dangerous. To take from science what it has earned over centuries and replace it with something that could cause severe harm, pain, and even death to those that subscribe to religion as their sole source of “healing”, and “vision” can be damaging to those who are naive enough to drink the kool-aid. Science can fail, but with science you can still apply reason and logic. With religion you really do just have to leave it all up to “faith”.
Hello Fellow Blog Readers!
My name is Mollie and I am Billy’s wife. He has invited me to write on his blog occasionally and I just wanted to take a minute to introduce myself. I am 27 years old, a wife, momma of three rambunctious little ones, Christ believer, daughter, sister, friend, wine connoisseur, coffee lover, YLEO (Young Living Essential Oil) enthusiast, healthy living advocate, proud military and veteran supporter and lover of all things FALL!
In the coming weeks I will be writing on various topics that apply to Billy’s blog that I am super passionate about and sharing more of our personal stories and experiences with you. I hope you will enjoy reading my upcoming posts. Stay tuned!