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My rant: personal, individual faith versus organized religion
This is my own unbelievably true personal story. I am sharing it to get some psychological and theological perspective from others here who are religious.

I grew up in the Church from the moment of birth. My family attended and was intimately involved in the functioning of Baptist, Lutheran, and predominately Free Methodist churches. My mother worked at a church, and my father did church finances.

I did Royal Ambassadors, essentially the Boy Scouts run through baptist churches. As a 15 and 16 year old, I traveled to poor parts of Mexico to build houses for the poor through a Christian organization.

All of this was fine and well, but then when I was 17, something unanticipated happened. The pastor of my church had a thing for my mom.. it had evolved into an affair (both married 20 years with three kids each). The fallout led to my parents divorcing and a well-established church nearly disintegrating. I no longer felt welcome in this institute of faith I used to consider a second home.

I tried going to a Lutheran church near my house, but after spending a whole sermon talking about how Mormonism is a cult (sorry, but if you are the "right" religion, why the need to denounce others?) I stopped going.

College ensued. Drinking, partying, all that stuff.

I discovered I felt extremely uncomfortable in any organized religion environment.

The idea of a personal faith remained acceptable.

Life went on.

I joined the military.

It was not until going to war and being faced with my own mortality on a daily basis that the concept of faith returned to center stage. Praying for strength, praying for safety, praying for wisdom. It all was an internal thing, a private thing.

Even to this day, I have no problem considering myself a religious or spiritual person. But, I have problems with organized religion. I see them as inevitably succumbing to the flaws of man.

It's like that person in worship service singing on stage with that big fake smile. They have a nice voice, but are they just showing off? Do they really belief? Do they take it SERIOUSLY?

I take it seriously, probably because I philosophize everything. I would rather sit in a forest with a handful of individuals philosophizing Christ's teachings than go to a well-established church. If no money changes hands, and the organization is nothing more than the words of those gathering to speak - is this a way to avoid the flaws of organized religion?

I don't know, and I clearly don't have all the answers. I just wanted to share this with those in this group that I've known for years whom may be on the same level theologically.
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it think if you know god and he knows you and you do what you feel is right all will be good, i have no interest in organised religion as an adult, i kinda look at it as i look at cars, you can learn on your own make mistakes and fix things that you have caused and learn for future reference or you can know nothing about cars go to a tech school and learn how some one els thinks you should do things, and even if its the wrong way you will think its right untill you learn better and find your own ways in the end
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I agree with you on the orginzed religon the one my gf attends..its nice..I like it..but then there's time where they want to basicly tell you what to wear what to do and things like that and they take it that if you do the opposite that your betraying the lord and doing me that's too much..
Growing up my family didn't really go to church..since I been with my gf I go every now and then with her just to hear them preach and I really like it..but I don't think I can really convert into they're church because of how they pretty much criticize almost everything that man does.
But anyway I hope you can find somewhere you feel comfortable in where you can go to share your faith even though it won't be the same as when you were younger but you still have your faith..
Thank for sharing your personal story Dave. I read your post and re-read to try to get a better understanding of where you are in your faith but I quickly learned that I cannot do this. Only God knows your heart.

If someone tells me that I am religious I feel the need that I have to correct them and say that I am not religious. Being religious to me is an outward condition. Purely for "show" for the world. I have faith and Jesus is my savior. Having faith is internal condition of ones heart.

If you are okay with me as a "non-religious" person then I will my Twocents Smile

This might sound harsh but if you are looking for a church that doesn't have adulterers, alcoholics, drug addicts, abusers, etc then you will be looking forever because they do not exist. Romans 3:23 "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". ALL have sinned, me, you, and everyone have fallen short. I had to look that verse up as I am not the type that can whip up a verse at a drop of a hat (yet).

The enemy wants to keep you looking for something that doesn't exist because well, he doesn't want to loose another person to his enemy (Jesus). I pray that you continue until you find a church that helps you build your faith, holds you accountable, and challenges your faith as well. It took me many many years with the help of my daughter and wife to find a church that presses on my heart want to be a part of and not just going on Sundays. I currently attend a non-Evangelical church.

Don't let the enemy win man.

For me, I was raised in a Catholic church. My parents never went to church and only did on the major holidays (Easter and Christmas). I did the whole confirmation thing but I felt that I HAD to to be a good boy. I never got anything out of it. For me the Catholic church was too strict, cold, impersonal, distant, intimidating, and it didn't feel right. I felt weird at the mention of Jesus but not anymore. I wonder why people are offended by the name Jesus? That can be a latter discussion.

What if your hypothetical worship leaders smile IS real? What if they are singing and giving praise to the Lord and could care less about what people are thinking of him. What if he does believe with every fiber of his heart. Don't you want that? I know I do because I still can't sing during worship service, only internally.

As for you gathering with a small group of people philosophizing Christ's teachings. That is not the way to go? Let me ask you this? Could you possibly be using this as an excuse not to go to church, where some just might ask how you are doing and really mean it? Yes please, I will take that. As for the money thing. Same thing, don't let that be an excuse not to go.

You posting this and asking questions in my opinion is a good thing. It shows me that you want and desire to know more. Keep looking, if you haven't already done so start reading the scriptures. You will find everything in there. You just have to be open to things that you may or may not want to be relieved to you.

I looked up some verses that may help you. I encourage you to read them.

Romans 3:23
Hebrews 10:25
Malachi 2:7

You are welcome to take part in our study of James.
Romans 3:23
English Standard Version (ESV)

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
You have to wonder if people really believe in a higher being, or if they are only believing because they just want to get into heaven.

Lets see how to explain what I'm saying. It's kind of like if someone works for their father that owns a powerful corporation. That father says to them, "If you work hard, obey my business practices and continue business the way I do, and have faith that we will grow as a company, then I will hand this all down to you when I retire." Lets say the company is worth 10 billion dollars.

So now you know that if you work hard, and do what this guy says, and share his dream; you will be entitled to a great benefit. Money in this case, but metaphorically, heaven.

But lets say the company kills infants every Tuesday as a policy. No one knows why, but it's just the way it is, and the way it will have to continue to be because your father said so. You're against this, and think it should be changed. Instead you follow it because if you don't, you lose that benefit...again, metaphorically heaven.

So my question is, how do you tell true faith from selfishness? What if there was absolutely no benefit to accepting God as your personal savior? What if instead of a heaven, it was "Believe in me, for I died to purge mankind of sin, but when you die, you will go into the ground and cease to exist in any form, physically or spiritually."

My 24 years in life has taught me this: Absolutely nothing is free. Everything has a cost, and everyone wants some sort of payment for their actions. You show your family love and respect because you expect love, support, and respect back. You confide your deepest, darkest secrets and weaknesses to your best friend because you want someone to listen to them and help you get through whatever troubles you may find yourself in. You pour your feelings and emotions into another human and call it love, because you want companionship, you want to feel a connection and not feel alone and most importantly...die alone.

There is always a cost, but it isn't always in monetary form. If religion offered absolutely NO benefit to mankind, would people still believe? How long can a person give without receiving? That is the test of faith, and heaven is used as a reward to those willing to succumb to it.

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Retired: This means I am not part of; or even vaguely interested in, your scenes, fads, meets, etc.

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Selfishness eventually comes with faith. I will admit that I am pretty darn selfish sometimes and lately God has been pointing that out to me in not so subtle ways. I'm still learning.

The funny thing is that it is free, well sort of. Once a person accepts Jesus into his or her lives fully there will be a cost. That cost can be anything from society thinking you are a narrow minded individual, crazy, naive, etc. You will loose friends because of you faith. Your family may disown you. Potential forum members may decide this forum is too weird because there is a Faith section. Just because a person becomes a Christian does not mean he or she will be spared from certain trials, won't become deathly ill, loose their job etc.

Religion is an outward condition that is strictly to show. Faith is a heart condition (no pun intended)

When i was growing up (Catholic) I wanted nothing to do with church and Jesus. I was pretty much told that I had to attend catechism and get confirmed. Attending church meant nothing to me, the seats were uncomfortable, I was weirded out by the priest because you were supposed to call him "father". The Catholic church turned me off to religion big time. Anything that had to do with Jesus I didn't want anything to do with. I always believed there was a God but this Jesus guy made me uncomfortable. Heck even I bought my S10 Blazer I removed the fish symbol it had on the back.

It wasn't until I met Tammi that I began to ask questions. I became a Christian back in 2001 and was on fire for awhile but then I became lukewarm in my faith and just within the past year I have been slowly coming back. Or should I say, God is working on me quite a bit as of late.

Romans 3:23
English Standard Version (ESV)

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

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