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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Two Traveling Angels

Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion’s guest room. Instead the angels were given a space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied… "Things aren’t always what they seem".

The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night’s rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field.

The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel "How could you have let this happen!? The first man had everything, yet you helped him," she accused. "The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let their cow die."

"Things aren’t always what they seem," the older angel replied.

"When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall
so he wouldn’t find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead. Things aren’t always what they seem."

Sometimes this is exactly what happens when things don’t turn out the way they should. If you have faith, you just need to trust that every outcome is always to your advantage. You might not know it until some
time later.

Three Easy Steps to Losing Your Faith

By Brian Elroy McKinley

Tired of feeling restricted by your faith in God? Fed up with going to church every week only to find you act no better on Monday? Sick of feeling wishy washy about what you believe? Want out of your faith, but don’t want the embarrassment of quitting church and leaving your Christian friends?

Fear not. Your troubles will soon be over.

The following three methods will guide you easily into losing your faith; but don’t worry, your friends will never notice. To them you’ll appear as a saint while inside you’ve gotten rid of the pesky belief system that has caged you in like a bird. Simple, covert and usually painless, these steps are guaranteed to liberate you from religion, to free you from faith, or even to remove you from your morals. Each step can be used by itself or in concert with the others. But remember, don’t be fooled by your own appearance. These steps are designed to make you appear more righteous than ever, even while the substance of your faith is choked out of you forever.

Step one: Follow the Leader

This deadly number is by far the simplest but is less reliable than the other methods. It tends to lend high saint value, and when it does finally kill off your beliefs, it leaves you with a fail-safe excuse to model in front of your peers.

The key here is to live your faith through your leader. Go to church to hear him or her preach and complain on the Sundays when the leader is gone. If the leader runs a Bible study, know the subjects and basic content, even if you are unable to attend. When you have questions, only take them to your leader. And whatever answer he or she gives you, adopt it immediately as your own — quoting your leader’s expertise if anyone questions the validity of the information. If your leader has written any books, be sure to know their contents. The latter two points are even more effective if you pick a leader with a doctor’s degree in something.

By picking a leader through which to live your faith by proxy, you relieve yourself of needing to think about the choices your faith wants you to make. You can publicly take the positions the leader has given you and be completely justified among your peers. What you really believe becomes irrelevent to those around you because your devotion to the leader’s principles blinds them into thinking you take your faith seriously. Often you won’t even need lie to cloak your true feelings. By establishing a behavior pattern based on supporting the leader, all you need do is quote the position of the leader and let your friends assume it is your position as well. Bye relying on the belief of many church goers that accepting God’s will means following the authorities of the church without question, you can easily build a protective wall of Christian authority around you that blocks out those who might critique the shallowness of your faith.

Ultimately though, we want not to protect a shallow faith but completely obscure the fact that you’ve lost it altogether. As stated earlier, relying on the “Follow the Leader” method can work wonders in this area, but it is less reliable than the other methods.

It’s less reliable because the killing of your faith depends on when your leader will fail. If he or she is particularly good, or at least very astute at appearing good, this may take much longer than you wish. Some leaders take years before letting their followers see a crack in their holy armor. Others my be in the pulpit less than a year before letting their humanity show. For our purposes, it’s best to find one who appears to be so strong that he or she will never crack but who has enough human frailty to insure a decent failure without having to wait years. It’s also a good idea to find a leader who has enough of an ego that when dirty laundry finds its exposure, the leader will do his or her best to whitewash it, fold it into some obscure corner and ignore it.

When the once divine doo doo hits the sanctuary fan, those whose faith was based solely on the leader can sit back and watch as the strength of their conviction is tainted along with the leader’s reputation. The more successful your link with the leader, the more damage his or her fall will do to your desire to believe. You can stop going to the Bible studies and fellowship meetings and people will have sympathy for you. Soon you can start attending Sunday morning worship services only when there is a guest speaker, and people will understand when you tell them you can’t bear to be lead astray again by the leader. And if the fall is bad enough that the faulty leader is removed, you can claim the leader left such a bad taste in your mouth that you cannot trust God anymore. Soon you’ll be able to quit church altogether without a whisper of complaint by those who will remain your friends and who will continue to invite you to social events.

Step Two: Be Sure and Be Right

This little gem will work much faster than the previous method, but it doesn’t have the ultimate end of getting you completely out of the church. You will be required to maintain your presence at a minimal number of church activities (unless you do it in tandem with the “Leader” method), but beneath the facade you can kill your faith at whatever speed you like.

The key here is to find an interpretation of the Bible and of church history that is justifiable through a few well-known Bible verses and a hefty amount of tradition. This can’t be only church doctrine, belief and rituals; it must contain the modes of church operation, principles of financial management and a clear understanding of the lines of authority.

Once you’ve established this interpretation, you must get involved on some of the committees that help make corporate decisions. This is not hard to do since most churches are hurting for people willing to give their time, and it is this very fact that will help you lose your faith without losing face. By volunteering a few hours every couple of weeks, you gain a position of power in the church because the church needs volunteers to function and it will be afraid of losing you once you’ve started. Once you have some power, people will automatically assume you also have authority. You can promote your interpretation — as long as it is also fairly supportable by some verses and some tradition — and people whose programs depend on your committee will start to fear you. The is exactly where you want to be.

Once you wield some authority and command some fear, and once you establish the fact that you are sure and right in making your decisions, even people who dislike you will treat you with respect and never question the growth, or death in this case, of your own faith. If you can even con yourself into feeling you are always right, and that you’ve figured out all the answers for the church, its structure and monetary allotments, you can lose your faith even faster because you need not pretend to be seeking new areas of understanding in your beliefs. You can ignore the pastor, or if you choose to use the “Leader” method, you can follow his or her every move. It doesn’t matter. Either way you will build a shield of piety around you that most church goers will respect and many church leaders will fear — a shield behind which you can hide all kinds of immorality, sexual permissiveness, disbelief, corruptness and a host of other things your faith would otherwise hold against you. As long as you don’t flaunt these attributes, your fellow “believers” would not dream of doubting your integrity. They won’t even know to look behind your shield of piety because doubting the integrity of a “righteous” person is usually seen as disrespectful.

The best part of this method is how it perpetuates itself. Once you’ve established yourself as one who is righteous and who has some authority in the church, the leaders and members of the church will continue to uphold those attributes. You will be asked to be on more committees and take on more responsibility. You need not do it all; just taking on a few projects a year will keep you in good standing. The longer you function among the power circles of the church, the more secure your wall of protection becomes. For good measure, an occasional donation of funds to the pet project of a powerful pastor will give you added protection beyond what you’ve already created. Within this sanctuary you can mutilate any decent remnant of your faith, delight in your avarice and still bathe in the humble glory attributed to you by those you have blinded.

Step Three: Be Afraid of Sin

The first two methods require you to lie, either to yourself or to others, in order to succeed in losing your faith without losing your Christian friends. While they both work well, some of you might want to chuck the faith but not the moral lifestyle attributed to it. That is exactly what this next technique can do for you. Its genius is its subtlety and its ability to shut down your faith without hurting any of your moral characteristics.

In order for this to work you must loathe sin. This should not be hard since our faith has taught us how wretched sin is. We are exhorted to flee temptation, to put all unrighteousness behind us, to think of our bodies as temples to God, to not let any unclean thing come forth from our thoughts or our mouths. We have learned that sin leads to eternal death, and, if we read the book of James, that a failure to do good is a sign that our faith is worthless. This being the case, we can see how easy it would be to chuck our faith by simply embracing a hefty amount of sin. But we’re after losing the faith without being rejected by those who hate sin, and without losing our own morals in the process.

Rather than embrace sin then, you need to learn how to fear it, how to loathe it from the very depths of your soul. You must embrace a fear of the sin that permeates the world, and more importantly, you must fear the sin within your own being. You must hate sin so much that avoiding it becomes a measure of spirituality, or in your case, morality. And to increase your fear, you must allow yourself to believe that your personal value stems from your morality.

Once this fear is sufficiently cultivated you’ll start to avoid things in your life that might lead to sin. You might throw out your non-Christian records and tapes. Perhaps you’ll get rid of some books that promote sinful notions. Most likely you’ll restrict yourself from seeing R-rated movies. You’ll curtail watching most television shows because they are laced with sinful notions, even shows such as Star Trek because it might be sinful to entertain notions of fantasy. Ultimately you’ll start to avoid anyone participating in sinful activities, or even those who just speak of sinful things. If you’re good at it, your sin meter can become so sensitive it can determine whether any situation is sinful or not. You’ll be able to judge who is moral and who is not by measuring their activities based on your sin scale. And ultimately — and this is what we’re really after — you’ll start to reject even yourself because you won’t be able to fully avoid the sin you’ve grown to fear.

Once you start rejecting yourself, it’s a very easy matter to step into the faith-killing cycle of sinning, questioning your morality, lowering your self-worth, feeling less worthy of your faith, attempting to try harder not to sin and then sinning again, only to dash your value even more. After living within this cycle for awhile you feel so bad about yourself that all the grace in the world seems insufficient to redeem you. Presto! You’ve lost your faith while keeping your morals intact. Try all you like, but even taking communion after strenuous prayers of confession doesn’t take away the inferior feelings you have toward yourself. These feelings, mixed with this holy act, prompt you to renew your goal of a sinless life and cement you even deeper into the cycle of faith death. In the end, you’ll keep the name Christian and will continue to associate primarily with Christians, but your faith in Christ will be relegated to feeling guilty that you’re not good enough to fulfill your own high morals. And by not being able to admit that your failure is okay, you effectively reject the life-giving reconciliation that comes from forgiveness.

A note of caution here. These magnificent methods of losing your faith can only be guaranteed to work if you follow the directions exactly. Failure to keep the specifics in each step can lead to a break in the wall or cycle designed to destroy your beliefs. If in the “Follow the Leader” method you start to make any faith choices on your own, you will significantly endanger your ability to have your faith crushed under the fallen leader. This can result in being held accountable for your beliefs and in the loss of sympathy by those around you when you part from the church. Likewise with the “Be Sure and Be Right” approach, if you should show any weakness or questioning of your faith, or worse yet, if you volunteer to serve in an area of the church where no one will ever see your work or hear your eloquent arguments or be effected by your decisions, you will surely fail to obtain the respect and fear needed to shield you from faith inquiries, leaving you open to detection should you participate in faith-destroying activities. And in the “Be Afraid of Sin” technique, be absolutely sure you give sin the fear it deserves. Should you allow in the notion that there is enough grace to conquer your sin, or worse yet, should you ever let yourself feel that sinning, while horrific in God’s sight, doesn’t detract from your value as a person, the faith killing cycle will lack the necessary elements to be established.

On the other hand, should you follow one or more of these steps as exactly as possible, you’ll be well on your way to losing your faith in the manner that’s completely undetectable by those around you. You’ll be free of its confines while retaining the comforts and hospitality of your Christian friends. Good luck, and happy faith killing.

Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. You made it through so stop worrying about tomorrow and live for today.

Miracles Come From Faith

A small congregation in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains built a new sanctuary on a piece of land willed to them by a church member. Ten days before the new church was to open, the local building inspector informed the pastor that the parking lot was inadequate for the size of the building. Until the church doubled the size of the parking lot, they would not be able to use the new sanctuary. Unfortunately, the church, with its undersized parking lot, had used every inch of their land except for the mountain against which it had been built. In order to build more parking spaces, they would have to move the mountain out of the back yard.

Undaunted, the pastor announced the next Sunday morning that he would meet that evening with all members who had “mountain-moving faith.”  They would hold a prayer session asking God to remove the mountain from the back yard and to somehow provide enough money to have it paved and painted before the scheduled opening dedication service the following week. At the appointed time, 24 of the congregation’s 300 members assembled for prayer. They prayed for nearly three hours. At ten o’clock the pastor said the final “Amen”. “We’ll open next Sunday as scheduled,” he assured everyone. “God has never let us down before, and I believe He will be faithful this time, too.”

The next morning as he was working in his study there came a loud knock at his door. When he called “Come in,” a rough-looking construction foreman appeared, removing his hard hat as he entered. “Excuse me, Reverend. I’m from Acme Construction Company over in the next county. We’re building a huge new shopping mall over there and we need some fill dirt. Would you be willing to sell us a chunk of that mountain behind the church? We’ll pay you for the dirt we remove and pave all the exposed area free of charge, if we can have it right away. We can’t do anything else until we get the dirt in and allow it to settle properly.”

The little church was dedicated the next Sunday as originally planned and there were far more members with “mountain-moving faith” on opening Sunday than there had been the previous week.

Some people say faith comes from miracles. But others know: MIRACLES COME FROM FAITH.