Occasionally, I have a deep, contemplative thought during my day. I can’t really write about these things while I’m at work, but I think about it all day and then I usually write it down or just post it as a meme on the way home from work on Facebook. I sort of still believe that the Spirit of God inspires us. So, these are the top 10 things I’ve been thinking about recently. I’m not claiming they are absolute truth or doctrine; they are just the things that seem the most true to me right now.
Number 10 – You Shouldn’t Have to Pay a Tax to Worship
When you ask people to describe their most significant worship experience, they often describe experiences in nature or times in their car listening to a good song or audiobook. Sometimes their most “spiritual” times are when they are still and quiet. However, we have been convinced that we must come to a place and pay a tax (tithe) for that experience. I love going to “shows” as much as the next person, but a reasonable price for a concert would be $20, not a tenth of my income. And, honestly, the sanctuary is wherever I am; not a place that I go.
Number 9 – There’s Nothing Inside the Church not Available Outside the Building
I consistently post about this topic, but it is true. There is utterly no reason to come to a building where all the services inside that building are available in other places for free. People inside the church like to paint the proximity with the cure, but it is not true. The Kingdom of Heaven and the Spirit of God are available to us anywhere and we do not need a priest or clergy to supervise anything for us.
Number 8 – A Most Common Malady of the Church is Bypassing
When we avoid difficult situations, we more often than not make the problems worse by subverting them. Notice the language of the church that says it will be okay or God has a purpose or we will understand it later instead of stating the obvious which simply says this sucks right now, can I sit with you in this? Avoiding tough topics only lead to blame, avoidance and psychological problem, such as shame and isolation. It never leads to healing.
Number 7 – We Don’t Have to Create Demons to Feel Better about God
Every day, I believe less and less in the Devil and physical demons. There’s good evidence that some of this thinking is figurative language and not even referring to an actual being. But as long as people have invented religions to help them understand God, we have invented demons and enemies and others to make us feel better about our ideas of God. The worse the demon or evil spirit is, the better our view of God seems. But our idea of God has to stand on it’s own. If we’re propping it up with the other, we aren’t being genuine about the goodness of our God.
Number 6 – Jesus Never Told Anyone to Write Anything Down
Bring out the pitchforks, but Jesus never told any of His disciples to write anything down. He also never wrote any Scriptures himself, yet most Christians almost idolize what is written in the New Testament. Understand most of these parts of the Canon weren’t even written until 30 – 60 years later and they weren’t organized into a book until the 4th Century. All I’m saying is that Jesus seemed to diminish the Hebrew Scripture and didn’t even tell Matthew, Mark, Luke or John to write down anything; or if He did, they took their sweet time doing it.
Number 5 – Fear is No Way to Start Anything
I’m okay if people fear God, but I hope that it is a reverence for Him and that it leads to Wisdom which is what the book of Proverbs suggests that it should be. Fear usually leads to control and control leads to a plethora of things like abuse, bypassing, immaturity, and groupthink. Even the Bible rails on fear as the opposite of what we need, yet it seems to be the default of most Christians. We are afraid of everything and anything we cannot control or anything that scares us.
Number 4 – Be Where You Are / Be Who You Are
My life plans and goals usually fall into these categories—authenticity and presence. The only place we can be is right where we are and it behooves us to stick to the blueprint inside us that tells what is authentically us. Being present and being authentic may be the secret weapons we have been looking for. I know they have been for me.
Number 3 – There is No Them—Only Us
During the pandemic and the emergence of the Black Lives Matters movement, I have listened to people on all sides of these arguments, usually to no avail. The reason is that they are usually arguing only about symptoms and surface sides of these issues. What It’s really about is something more basic—the connection between all of us because there is literally no Them among the human race. There is not THEM—there is only US. We are ONE. This will solve many of our issues.
Number 2 – Whatever is Not Love is NOT Right
Christians love to argue about what is right or holy or sinful. Sin is most often what the other guy does or the things that I cherry pick out of the Bible. But, the yardstick is actually love. God is love, love is the commandment and love is what binds us together. Whatever is not love is not worth investing our lives in. It’s not worth fighting for. It’s not what brings us life. Love is the answer—whatever is not love is not.
Number 1 – It is Not Christlike to Ignore Suffering
Recently people responded to the Black Lives Matter mantra with All Lives Matter. It is a way to bypass considering the suffering of the black person in systemic racism. It’s a common tactic among believers. We otherize people to justify wars or just not caring about people that are suffering. We assume they deserve it or they are just not trying hard enough or they are just confused about their own suffering. But the basic Christian message is to love your neighbor and be concerned about people’s suffering. Jesus looked upon the multitudes with compassion. He didn’t bypass—He didn’t ignore—He didn’t create narratives that helped Him not care.
There’s no secret weapon for anything. There is no magic that makes thing much easier. That’s really what usually gets us into trouble—looking for easy answers and quick fixes. But I hope these things that I’ve been pondering in my journey will help you with yours.
Stay on the journey and be at Peace.
Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart and the soon-to-be released Tea Shop. He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary and Too Many Podcasters podcasts. He is married to his wife Laura of 32 years and has one dog named Winston. His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply!