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Religious Rites And Pathetic Prophets


Jeff H

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This weekend has been an entirely religion-filled weekend. Or, if you like, a God-be-praised hallelujah Spirit-filled weekend! I prefer the former. Be aware that this entry will likely turn into a rant. But you'll probably enjoy every minute of it. Anyways, let me go on about my weekend.

 

On Saturday, my youth pastor got ordained. Because 1) I haven't told anyone about my de-conversion, and 2) I wanted to support him (although not what he stands for), I went to the ordination ceremony. This is the ordination for the PAOC - Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. There were fourteen people who got ordained, and it was a pretty long and boring service for the most part. The district superintendent (I believe that's his title anyway) railed on and on about one verse in 1 Timothy about being in ministry. However, I noticed that he subtly compared himself to Paul, which I found quite arrogant. He went on about how he was thankful to be counted faithful just as Paul was, blah blah blah. I'm glad to know that the people of the Pentecostal persuasion get bloated egos as well - makes it easier to separate myself emotionally from the church environment. At any rate, they had a big long ceremony where this guy ordained each one and then anointed each on on the forehead with oil. After this, they had a time where the presbyters and leaders laid hands on them - to the accompaniment of music, of course. No Pentecostal prayer-time is complete without the soft, ethereal keyboard in the background.

 

After that, people were invited to my youth pastor's parents place for a big celebration. I went up with my youth pastor (big mistake...didn't get to leave until everyone else had), and before the actual festivities started, he gave me and another friend of mine a tour of his parent's house. This house was...amazing. Honestly, it was ridiculously nice. His parents live on the edge of Lake Ontario, in a well-to-do subdivision that literally overlooks the lake. Did I mention that his dad is one of the head honchos for the PAOC district? Right. Great way to get filthy rich, apparently. I mean, the house wasn't a mansion, but they still had the standard deck and patio, hot tub, nice boat, huge master bedroom suite with a balcony coming out of it, a fully furnished guest bedroom down in the basement with a kitchenette, etc. Very nice place. Oh, and let's talk about their cars. My youth pastor drives a BMW. Yeah, I'm sure he's pretty much the only youth pastor in existence who drives one. But now I know where he gets it from. His father - also has a BMW. His sister - yep, she's got one too. The only one in the family without one is his mother, who has a crappy Lumina, but that's apparently almost dead, and they are talking about getting her a BMW very shortly. Talk about flaunting your cash. And this guy is in charge of the PAOC? Hmm...seems to me that they need to put more into missions and outreach and less into their salaries. But of course, when Jesus said "sell all you have and give it to the poor", he was only speaking metaphorically, of course...

 

Anyway, I could go on about that night, but I won't. Today was Sunday, and since I was at home this weekend to celebrate my and my mother's birthdays, I went to church this morning. Today we had a guest speaker, someone who runs an outreach ministry in Israel. (You'd think they'd be less worried about converting God's chosen people, but apparently not.) Anyway, the first fifteen or twenty minutes was essentially him trying to sell books, DVDs, and calendars, and trying to get people interested essentially. He was like a salesman giving a pitch. After that, the senior pastor came back up and took up a second offering for this guy's ministry. (I'm sure you can tell how much I gave to him. I was thoroughly impressed... :ugh: ) Once the offering was over, he came back up, and tried to do a sermon on the seven churches in Revelation. However, he spent about ten minutes on that, and then the rest of the time talking about himself and how he can see visions and dreams and stuff. He went on and on about a vision that God gave him that convicted him, and then started going into "prophetic mode." Here was my first very visible, in-person demonstration of cold reading. And boy was it bad. He pointed to one woman and told her that what she was doing would blossom. Didn't give any details, that was about it. At this point, I had picked up on the scheme of things. Here was a guy claiming to be in touch with the Holy Spirit right at that moment. I have prayed over and over during the past few months for God to give me some sort of sign, and I picked this opportunity to tell God, "Here you go. I said I wouldn't give you another chance, but here you are. If you get that guy to come over to me and tell me something specific, then you'll prove yourself to me." What happened? Apparently the Holy Spirit isn't that accurate - he missed me by two people. The guy pointed to one of my friends sitting in the same row as me, and told him some vague mumbo-jumbo about "God knows what you're going through and says that he knows about that thing that makes you angry whenever you think about it." Boy, what specifics there. Who couldn't that apply to? Anyway, then he went over to another woman and told her that he saw a "tree of God's covering" over her life. Something about palm branches and all that jazz.

 

Anyway, after "proving" his godliness, he then asked anyone who wanted prayer to come up to the front. I'd say about thirty or forty people went up (a fair amount for a church our size). They stood along the front roughly in a single line, and this guy went and prayed for each one, giving them "prophetic" words that, from what I could hear at that point, were just as vague as the ones before. Of course, the music had started playing for this time (because again, you can't have prayer without soft keyboard music), and I just sort of sat there watching the whole proceedings. I gave God a couple more chances - I told him that if he wanted to get my attention, he'd have to bring the guy over to me and have him pray for me. You know, have the "Spirit leading him" over to me. I figured that would be pretty simple for God to do. But apparently not. The guy started making his way over to the other side of the auditorium, so I left. I set myself up for rejection, and so I got it once again. On the way home I told God that if he was really up there, that I hated him for ignoring me and rejecting me. I punched the steering wheel a few times, then felt better. There is nothing God has ever given me that I couldn't have given myself - since all those years, it was me all along. Nope, God is dead. If he exists, then he does not care about me enough to bother with my questions or my doubts. If God is my Father, he is an absent father. So now, back at my place in the city where I go to school, I am writing this to let any of you readers know - religion is nothing more than a power-hungry money-grab tactic used to keep the masses in line. While the leaders get rich with their nice comfortable salaries, we pay the tithes that line their pockets. Then the "prophets" come along and try to sell you a rotten bill of goods. Don't listen to them. Listen to your own mind and your own heart and decide for yourself who is telling the truth. Look into yourself and find out where the real source of power comes from.

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Jeff:

 

I read your blog and I sympathize with your discouragement and anger. I actually am not an unbeliever, why I'm here on this site I don't really know other than I am discouraged myself seeing so many people reaching to grab on to something that makes sense. Even when people declare they don't believe in God, during moments of desperation cry out to Him either by cursing Him or just being frustrated. There are many examples in the Bible with people who wrestled and bargained with God. Nobody wants to wait on God on His timing because we all think we deserve to be treated a certain way.

 

This is childhood. Simply look at children making requests to their parents, we don't give them what they think they need because they think they know what is best for them. When they act out of line because of our decision this is usually referred to as rebellion. Does it give grounds for the child to hate his parents when they go to work every day, put food on the table, tuck the child in at night, take him to Dairy Queen when he does something that makes you proud. Look at the blessings you have all around you, I'm sure you can find some?

 

Quite honestly there are people in the church that creep me out too, but something inside me tells me that something isn't clicking. You will find extremes in all beliefs.

 

People here from what I've been reading are seeking out a truth that makes sense to them, that fits their mind. Some people express the fear that was instilled in them from bad experiences, others seem to really be wanting help. I would not encourage you at all to abandon your faith. You question it, and even doubt, but that is not a sin. Jesus didn't condemn Thomas for not believing Christ rose until he saw with his own eyes. Thomas had a need, it was met. Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the mouth of God. So, if you choose to believe the Word you could say that an increase in faith can come from reading the Word. We eat food everyday of our lives without thinking about it, what about feeding our spirit?

 

Max Lucado has written several good books. One I'm currently reading is called "Next Door Savior". I'll even buy it for you and mail you a package if you are open to a desperate effort of a Christian to offer some encouragement.

 

Either way you choose, I still will think of you in my prayers because inner turmoil sucks.

 

 

Peace

 

Jason

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Thank you for your comment. However, I can no longer believe in God simply because it is irrational to do so. That is what I've discovered. You make a comparison to children. But last time I checked, you and I were mature, grown-up people with a rational and reasonable mind. Is it not too much to ask of God that he treat us like adults? I could handle it if God spoke to me and told me what he was going to, gave me his reasons for things. That's what adults do for other adults, because they know they will understand. A God who treats us like children is a God who insults us, though he knows full well that we possess rationality and reason - since he apparently provided them for us.

 

You're right, I have many blessings. But there is no logical reason to believe that these are in any way connected to a supreme Being who has provided them for me. I am thankful for my parents, my country, my friends and my family, the freedoms I have, and the ability to reason. But how do you know that these were provided for me by some Big Daddy in the sky? There is no reason to think so. So do I hate God? Of course not. Why would I hate someone who does not exist? Of course, if he did exist, then I might be angry at him for never giving me any hard evidence that he even exists. Apparently he's worried about my salvation and loves me, yet he never shows me that he exists? That, my friend, is not the mark of a loving God. That is the mark of an absent Father.

 

At any rate, I thank you for the encouragement, but I need reason to bolster my faith - I need reasons to keep me "in the fold". And I have not been able to find those reasons. I think that is because they do not exist. So my faith is gone. If God ever decides to show up, then perhaps that may change, but after months of begging him, on my knees, and grovelling like a pathetic, insignificant peasant before an all-powerful king, you'd think the all-loving God would grace me with some sort of reason to believe. Since he has so far stayed silent, I don't know what else he could want from me. Maybe some burnt offerings? If I roast a lamb over a campfire, will that make him happy? Such a loving God should be looking for every excuse to shower his children with evidence of his existence, if not his love as well. But so far, there has been nothing. And as for Thomas, he (supposedly) got an appearance by the resurrected Christ - and you say he wasn't condemned for his doubt. So why am I condemned for mine? Why is God not giving me the same appearance for the same doubts? Seems like this God of love is playing favourites.

 

So thanks, but no thanks. You're right - inner turmoil sucks - but I'd rather take inner turmoil than falsehood. I want the truth, no matter the cost, and no matter how painful the process is. I've had to (metaphorically) rip my heart out in this search for truth, but I think I am finally finding it after 21 years of lies. Thanks for the offer of a book, but I highly doubt that one book can change my life. I've had 13 years of Christian education, and even more years of Sunday School. I know all the right answers, and every Christian book I read is just the same material, served up differently. My brain is full of it already, so I doubt that this book you mention, though I'm sure it's well written and wonderful, will help. Anyway, thanks for the prayer, but I doubt it will help. Who knows, though - maybe God loves you more than me and you can get me back onto his good side. I'd appreciate any efforts you can do in that department. Ask him to give me a miracle. That'd be nice. Maybe an amputee growing his/her arm back. If you can provide me with any legitimate accounts of this, I'll convert on the spot. Good luck.

 

Jeff

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Jeff:

 

I will be praying for a miracle for you. I want truth too, but I've tried looking outside of God and to the world, but see even more chaos and directionless answers, everyone believing in their own ideas or a god with no real indication of truth either. I guess you first need to establish what is truth anyway. Is it something you can touch, hope for, believe in, have absolute evidence for, love. You sound like you do have a lot of knowledge and book smarts, but I will be praying for wisdom specifically for you. I wasn't expecting one book to change your outlook, but maybe it would have some kind of inspiration.

 

I don't really propose that I can provide you with proof of anything for converting you. Quite honestly I just hope for you and the struggles you're going through that God would give you some peace about what you are dealing with. I believe God and His Spirit and Word only have the ability to change anyone.

 

During my stretches of uncertainty I like to find verses that comfort me. One thing I'm prone to is obsessing and worrying about things. I play out scenarios in my mind which many times don't even come true. I deal with a lot of anxiety and such. I was one day asking God what really causes depression, why do I always feel so weighed down and burdened. A couple days later I opened the Bible and came to

 

Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.

 

I was pretty excited about this, as simple and dumb as it may seem to many and I'll probably get flamed on all this but it did make sense to me. That was a piece of truth I could understand. I started praying for good words, for God to minister to me through others. I started battling my anxiety trying to find out how to clear my mind of worry. I needed some guidance and instruction how to do this.

 

Another verse came up.

 

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable whatever is of good repute, whatever is lovely, if there is any excellence or anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." Phil 4:8

 

At least I could try to use this verse to remind me that when I'm worrying about things to find something good to dwell on I don't really consider that a lie. I know it does work for me.

 

If you have a child or a wife, girlfriend, like to enjoy the outdoors, those are worth dwelling on. Thinking about someone else always tends to take the focus off ourselves and offers relief. It is always nice to see someone smile, or be thankful because you took a little time out of your day to do something that for just a moment made them feel like they meant something.

 

I remember one time grabbing a Gatorade from the store and getting in my car. I was at the main highway waiting to pull out on a very hot day, a guy was walking - I motioned for him to come here and it seemed like he probably had all sorts of thoughts going through his head about why I wanted him to come to my car - I then pulled out the Gatorade and gave it to him, he started laughing shaking his head said "you're very kind thank you" then went on his way. There was something real in that, something true. I thought about that for a long time and still do, it was entertaining and made my heart lift and It seemed to make him smile as well.

 

There is a couple interesting proverbs I like - one describes the effects of knowledge of wisdom to the soul as being like that of the sweetness of honey. Several proverbs later it says

 

Proverbs 25:16 "Have you found honey? Eat only what you need, That you not have it in excess and vomit it."

 

I guess what I got out of that is that when everyone kept telling me to read the Bible, get in the Word, oh you aren't reading enough when I was, I was reading as much as I could possibly handle to the point I thought what is the point anymore nothing is changing. Then that verse came and I thought I need to chew on one little thing at a time. I started taking one verse, writing it down, meditating on it all week, praying that God show me something based on that verse. I'm still doing it today and I've learned more than all the times I've ever just sat down and read.

 

I believe it was Job who said "I've come to long for your Word more than my necessary food" There must have been a reason for that. God's Words must of offered him some kind of sustaining value.

 

Jason

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What is truth, you ask? Well, I can't provide you with a comprehensive definition, but here are two conditions that I feel can get us close to it:

1) It must be logically coherent.

2) It must correspond to reality.

I don't claim that humanity can ever reach "absolute Truth", but I think that using at least these two conditions can weed out a lot of untruth. The first deals with logical contradictions internally, within the "belief structure" or whatever claim you are making. The second deals, of course, with external contradiction - if something does not line up with reality, it is not true.

 

It's a shame that it took me 21 years to figure out that Christianity does not fulfill either of those two conditions. You may disagree, but I don't really care. That's the conclusion I've reached, and I don't think that there is any way that you can help. Unless you are God, of course. When I look outside, or inside, I do not see the evidence for God anymore. I used to, but I found out that there are much better explanations for these things. So unless God is willing to give some more direct evidence, I don't think that he can expect me to believe that he exists anymore. And if he's not willing to do anything more, then I question his sincerity when he said that "he is not willing that anyone should perish". Obviously he's more concerned with staying hidden than he is about making sure people get to heaven. Is that love? Doesn't sound like it to me.

 

As for me, I think I have found "peace with what I am dealing with". There are good days and there are bad days, as my de-conversion is still rather recent, but I'm beginning to become comfortable now. I have begun to rebuild my worldview, and I am confident that in time, things will be better without God. I have begun to explore my new-found freedom, and am enjoying life. So it doesn't appear that God is the source of peace. I have found peace - and am finding peace - without him. As for whether God and his word have the ability to change people, well....I suppose that depends on your definition of "change". I'd argue that people are rarely static to begin with, so I don't see how God can be the only source of change.

 

At any rate, thank you for the horribly simple explanation for depression (most psychologists would instead say that it is a complex interrelationship between biological, psychological, and social factors, although there does seem to be a link between depression and anxiety). I am sure that those who suffer from chronic depression would be grateful to know that all this time, all they had to do was receive a "good word" and it would all be better. Oh, how simple...

 

Anyway, I'll leave you off with a wonderful verse that perhaps you'd like to meditate on. I'm sure that there are some excellent spiritual truths that you can glean from it...

 

"And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: "If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD's, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering."

...

"When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of tambourines! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter.

...

"After the two months, she returned to her father and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin."

(Judges 11:30-31,34,39)

 

Make sure to read the whole passage for the context. It's a lovely story, really...

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I have deep faith that the principle of the universe will be beautiful and simple.

- Albert Einstein

 

When I say I seek truth to, I want to make known I'm basing it off of the ability to discover truths all the time while maintaining that God is and in control of all and absolute truth.

 

I do believe that the laws God established and made which we have been able to discover will only continue to make for evidence of Him. Nature, physics, mathematics. These laws are the very things people come to worship as a god, while abandoning or giving thought to the one who created them. Mother nature for example, I read one person on this site chooses to belief in mother nature and that nature just worked itself out for no particular rhyme or reason.

 

"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29:29

 

"Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty? Job 11:7

 

We can discover what is revealed to us that much we do know.

 

If God is eternal which I believe, and His word says He is both the beginning and the end, would have to mean that the beginning has an ifinite travel and the end has an ifinite travel. So with that then simplicity would have an infinite travel and complexity would also have an infinite travel. We seem to be living this as days go on. Oh what simplicity but yet complicated.

 

So yes I do believe while at the study of Depression and Anxiety through the various sciences can find components which reveal it's complexity would also have components that would reveal a simplicity about it as well. Because it is contingent upon the information made available or what has been revealed for us to discover. Who knows, maybe it all comes down to the rise of depression with rise of people's lack of the ability to not trust in something so fear of the unknown rules.

 

The study of Depression with the knowledge we have now may make it extremely complex while yet 10 years from now a new formula or discovery could easily explain away much of the complexity that baffles man. At the same time years of study to create a drug that could offer some temporary relief can be matched by the pure love of a child and their ability to create a swell of joy from within someone that could last for days, years or a lifetime just by recalling a single memory. I don't know.

 

I agree, for the sake of the father in that passage it sucked and for the unfortunate daughter also. We she respected the vow the father made. She could of ran, did she accept a greater purpose then? I don't understand; but I'm not going to let my mind be consumed with that. There are plenty of other verses and passages in the bible that can have quite the opposite effect. I could sit on the beach and enjoy the waves moving in or worry that a tidal wave could be heading my way. Accept that you may not understand what the purpose of all that was and continue on to what you do understand and embrace it. Same thing with the flood, while the complex would be why did all those people have to die, and how cruel, regardless whether everyone will eventually die at some point anyway, while on the other end we and billions of others got to still experience life because mankind did survive. The moral of the story "sacrifice of one for the life of another"? Maybe. My ability to reason it, not there.

 

Do we really understand just how wicked those people really were? Maybe we will some day as the Bible prophesies. I guess if wickedness got the point that everywhere you went people were trying to chase you down and rape your children in public and it was accepted and okay, and people could rob you where you stand without penalty and have you for whatever they wanted to do to you because we've become a passive lawless people then you might hope that God wipes them out too, or that something interrupts on your behalf, I don't see mother nature caring much.

 

With respect

 

Jason

 

 

 

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In regards to the majority of your post, I would simply say that you are making an unjustified assumption. We can see truth, we can see the laws of nature, but we do not see their connection to God. You are spuriously assuming that because truth or laws exist, therefore they must have been made by God. You are free to believe this if you wish, but I do not.

 

Perhaps we will find out that the universe is inherently simple, or that certain conditions can be boiled down into a simple explanation. I'd argue that for the past 100 years or more, we've been finding increasing complexity rather than simplicity, but either way...so what? What does a simple or complex universe prove? If we find out it's complex, you can say, "It must have been designed!" And if we find out it's simple, you can say, "It shows that everything's connected, so it must have been designed!" In other words, it's not falsifiable, and therefore is useless as a scientific proposition, at any rate.

 

As for the last part of your comment, you are essentially rationalizing the verse I pointed out by saying that there are other verses that have the "opposite effect." If a murderer is not always murdering someone, are they still a murderer? If a thief does not spend 100% of his time stealing, is he not still a thief? Likewise, if the Bible has morally abhorrent passages within it, even if it has non-abhorrent parts to it, does it not still offend our sense of morality? I don't know if you have children, but if you do, would you murder your own child simply because you made a promise to God? If God told you to kill your child, would you blindly obey him, like Abraham? I prefer to base my worldview and my ethical judgments on reason and logic rather than some sense of a higher power or divine revelation. Morality is not black and white, because human interaction is far too complex for such a simplistic view. But at any rate, I think you'd still be hard-pressed to prove that life before the Flood was filled with people running around raping others, etc. Human societies function through pro-social behaviour. Humanity would have wiped itself out long ago if this was noe the case. Certainly not everyone is always pro-social, but when this happens, society also has built-in punishment functions - whether this is social ostracism, a judicial system, or some other similar system. I think it's fairly clear that a society that had people running around rampantly raping people would have died out long before God even sent his flood.

 

Jeff

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Guest wrote: Max Lucado has written several good books.

 

My dad loves that guy. I read one of Lucado's books at his (my dad's) request. Max advocates the same fallacies that all the other conservative Christian authors of his stripe do.

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Guest wrote: Max Lucado has written several good books.

 

My dad loves that guy. I read one of Lucado's books at his (my dad's) request. Max advocates the same fallacies that all the other conservative Christian authors of his stripe do.

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