My first church experience…

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To start off with, I don’t believe in religion (for many reasons). That being said, I find that many religious people are really amazing, good-hearted people so I went to the first church service of my life today to observe what goes on there. Before I go on, I’m going to note a few things:

1. To be honest, I really don’t care if I offend you. Not trying to be rude, but I find that most people get up in arms about things they’re not secure about. There’s many people who don’t believe in what I believe in as far as spirituality, spirit guides, etc… and it doesn’t faze me one way or the other. I know it’s my truth and that’s all that matters.

2. I went into this as unbiased as I possibly could be. If anything, I was hoping to walk out with a deeper respect of religion.

3. Any opinion that I give here is based on my experiences with THIS church – just the first one I found when I did a Google search. I can’t possibly make decisions on an entire religion based off of one experience… this is just what I found tonight.

4. For what it’s worth, I’m technically Jewish. I was bat mitzvahed, can read and write Hebrew, and used to know Hebrew and Arabic fluently. Like I said, I don’t believe in religion and don’t consider myself Jewish… but I have gone to synagogue before, although I really don’t remember anything about it except for trying to sneak out of the room and go downstairs to play with the toys. That being said…

Here’s What Happened:

I went into church today thinking I’d just sneak in and listen to the sermon. When I got in there, a guy asked me to fill out a postcard about how I found the church, write down my address, etc. He also gave me a pen and a mug filled with candy. He got another lady to come over and talk to me. I told her that I was leaving for Europe soon and that I just wanted to experience the church. She told me I could find missionaries in any country from this particular church, just in case I had a stellar time tonight.

When I went to sit down, she asked if I wanted to be alone or if she could sit with me. It didn’t matter to me… and I was kind of glad that she ended up sitting with me anyway, because I saw she was taking notes which in turn made me feel comfortable taking my own (I carry a pen and paper everywhere I go… I even take notes during tours. I’m a nerd.). The lady introduced me to her daughter (who was maybe late 30’s, early 40’s?). The daughter asked me if I was “searching for Jesus”, and I told her the truth – that I’m very spiritual on my own accord, but I do think many religious people are amazing and I wanted to observe. She told me that was a “cute” response. When the service started, one of the first things I noticed was that the pastor told everyone to walk around and shake hands with each other.

I Had 2 Thoughts…

…when I saw everyone going all over the place:

1. My initial thought was that it was a good mind-control tactic (I’m just being honest). I know they do this kind of stuff at seminars as an icebreaker to warm up the room/get people comfortable (not saying it’s a mind control tactic there, but can absolutely be used as one).

2. I noticed that the people shaking hands – all of them – had huge smiles on their faces and looked genuinely happy. I thought that was really awesome. Again, even if I don’t believe in religion, as long as there’s a good message, I’m a supporter. Then we got into the sermon. That’s when I heard some really fascinating things. To begin with, the service was all about “How To Break A Bad Habit”. The first thing the pastor mentioned was that “Some of the worst Christians do…”

I thought that was really interesting. I don’t know, I guess I assumed there wasn’t such a thing as “worst Christian” and that everyone was loved equally (I’m not trying to be sarcastic here, it truly did take me aback).

(In retrospect, now that I think of some of the anti-religion campaigns, I don’t know why it surprised me so much… I mean, that’s what people complain about with gay issues, right? I’m not trying to be biased here, but the facts are the facts… hardcore religious people do think being gay is wrong.)

The pastor then started talking about how once people accept Christ, then the Holy Spirit will come into them. He talked about how people won’t experience convulsions or anything like that… but as soon as they accept Christ, the spirit activates. (At this point, one guy kept saying “Right!” “Right!” “Right!” to everything. He was the only one though, and the pastor noted that the crowd was unusually quiet tonight.) He then started saying that people don’t need anything external in order to live by Christ – it lives inside themselves – but Jesus is there to help if you ask him for it. He said if you want him to control you, he’ll do that too.

My Problem With That:

Personally, I don’t think anyone needs to accept anything to have their spirit “activate”. I think it’s there all along. I’ve never accepted Jesus and really only prayed to God for most of my life for “insurance” purposes because I wasn’t sure of his existence. (I now believe , but that’s neither here nor there). I agree that once people make certain choices, it’ll be easier to stay connected to their spirit… but I don’t think you need to accept Jesus to have that happen. The pastor then started talking about…

All Those “Crazy” Christians

…and how some people have perversed Christianity. He says Church TV gets crazier and crazier by the minute, because people need to “fill the flesh”. The example he gave was of Jewish people. He said that the Jews needed to feel God on an emotional level and constantly be told of miracles so they could believe. Apparently when Jesus was feeding them, they kept following him. The minute Jesus stopped feeding them, they no longer believed because they didn’t have any substantial proof to go by. The pastor said that Christians need to feel based on logic, not emotion. They should just KNOW. (Later on though, in one of the times he contradicted himself, he said: “I bet some of you were torn about if you should come here or watch the Eagles game tonight” and paused, as if it was an awful thing.

I guess my question there is… if people are supposed to just KNOW within themselves, and the spirit can activate for them once they accept Jesus… what’s the problem with catching a game? I guess this was another example of being a “bad Christian”… that you should pray regularly, even if something you’re a fan of is on TV. I know that comes across as sarcastic, but I don’t mean for it to.) The pastor started talking about Joel Osteen. He said, “This guy has the biggest church in the country. I started to watch him but couldn’t go for any longer than 5 minutes because I didn’t want my kids to hear.” He said it was just like Church TV, with a guy sitting on a ledge playing guitar, and how “un-churchlike” it all was. (That being said, maybe other churches would make me have a different opinion… I don’t know.) After that, he started talking about giving thanks. He said not to just give thanks for the good things, because

“Even The Lost People Can Do That.”

Good Christians, he said, should make sure to give thanks for everything, because God knows what he’s doing and why he’s teaching it to you. THIS was the kind of thing I was hoping to hear more of when I came to church. That’s something I wholeheartedly agree on. I heard an Esther and Jerry Hicks cd once, and Esther was saying that if you go to a hotel and there’s a hole in the carpet on the floor, you have two choices. You can fixate on the hole or you can be thankful that you have shelter for the night. It was a visual statement (I could picture a hole in a carpet) and it stuck with me. I really liked that message and live the majority of my life trying to think that way – finding the positives in everything. Unfortunately, that was the only time during church that the pastor said something I agreed with. After that, he mentioned….

“You Can Only Get Into Heaven Once You Accept Jesus Christ As Your Savior.”

The service ended shortly after that. The lady I was sitting next to started talking to me more and started getting deep into religion. I was really grateful to listen to her because admittedly, I don’t know that much about it. We talked for about 5 good minutes, and then she said “I know it’s hard for you, being brought up Jewish, to accept Jesus as your savior, but…” I told her that I appreciated the positive messages that I thought he gave either way, and that whether or not I believed in Jesus, I had utmost appreciation for the teachings. Apparently that wasn’t a good answer, because she cut the conversation short and said she’d pray for me while I was in Europe because I’m a beautiful girl and it’s a dangerous world out there. So…

My Experience Comes Down To This:

Like I said at the beginning, I was hoping to find more of a connection to church. I knew I didn’t believe in religion and didn’t expect to love it either way… but I wanted more insight into what goes on in the spare time of so many phenomenal people. I thought the church would teach the same messages I believe in, except in a different way. I didn’t walk out with that, but I do believe other churches might be different. I do, however, think that other churches are the same as far as “Good Christian/Bad Christian”, and I staunchly disagree with that. Personally, I have love for EVERYONE, regardless of their decisions. I believe everyone does the best they can with what they’ve been given. Does it mean I want to be friends with certain people? No way. Lie to me once and I usually won’t talk to you again. I have strict standards as far as who I become close with. It doesn’t mean I dislike someone, though… just that they’re not right to be in my space.

I really do like how the church had so many happy people. Even if people criticize them as being “brainwashed”… hey, as long as you’re happy, who cares if you’re brainwashed. I guess I was also interested in religion because in “The Paradox Of Choice” (great book!), the author says the happiest people in the world are those who are religious, married, and/or have really good friends (think I blogged about this before) because they don’t have as many choices. A lot of their world is decided for them, so they don’t have as much to be overwhelmed by. I can see why people would be happy at church. So much is laid out for them… they have likeminded friends… etc… but I’m still not a fan. Overall, I walked out not only still not believing in religion, but maybe even having a slight dislike for it. I’ll continue to live each day, day by day, on my own terms. I’m glad for the experience though and plan on reading the Bible soon, just to learn more.

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0 thoughts on “My first church experience…”

  1. My mom took us to mass every sunday as kids and then I was told to go to sunday school and at my communion my brother just stood there taking the piss and making me laugh and i didn’t have a clue what i was reading out to the whole church and felt such a pratt. My brother punched the teacher and told him he wasn’t going to listen to their fairy tales every sunday morning and I had to stay……then they moved it to saturday and I missed saint and grevsie and when I get back up kilburn high road on the bus he has eaten a big fry up and says “man, you wanna see kenny dauglish’s goal from 30 yards and the fight that broke out at upton park and he has eaten all the eggs and bacon then, i swear it is true my dad started playing around as he earned a bit more and my mom was put through hell and the bloody church blamed her and never helped her at all and it was one of those little sect churches we had never met who bought us a hamper of food because we were so poor after she divorced him. We stopped going after that. The church go on each sunday about how jesus forgives people and forgives their sins and forgives them then they treat my mom like that when she was trying to bring up two boys. One funny thing though, I was an intensly introverted kid who just took everything in around me and one day in mass I shouted out “I want to see God” “I want to see God” and my dad said “you wont find him in here”
    and the whole mass started laughing.

    Reply
  2. @Jeff – Thank you for that reference, and for posting all of that!

    I would definitely be open to checking it out!

    I’ve read Conversations With God too, by the way, and LOVED it.

    Have an amazing day!

    Reply
  3. Rachel,
    This sort of commentary, experience is great and I loved your honesty here. I plan on doing a documentary interviewing many Church people. LOL Preachers, Ministers, Rabbi’s, Priests and any other name they go by.

    Since you post your opinions, views and thoughts on varioius subjects without worrying if any agrees or not, I wanted to share mine on this topic, so you and your readers can take them deeply inside for a bit and see how they feel.

    All my life, the stuff shoved down our throats at a young age never felt quite right to me. The craziness about this God, that we never see or hear from, pure nonsense to me early on.

    Then maybe in late teens, early twenties it seems we start hearing the crap about having to be Born again or Saved. I thought to myself, where are these people getting this stuff, these instructions, since I never heard any bible lovers, toters, talk about this in my life to this point.

    I also started wondering alot about how, according to these born again types, were more or less stating, that my awesome parents, who have lived their whole lives giving, giving and more giving of themselves and loving everyone like nobody’s business. Just pure love, all the time oozing out of them, how these two people, my parents could be punished or sent somewhere uncomfortable or undesirable, if they are not born again or saved. This surely is nonsense in my mind, for me.

    So then, skip to my 15’th year of marriage and some arguing going on between me and my wife, lots of it this one week in particular. I slept downstairs one night alone and distraught that things were going this way in my life. I started asking God what is going on, what can I do differently and if God would come closer to me, assist me in some sort of turnaround, and mostly help me become the best person a human being could ever hope to become.

    Not long after that, maybe a couple weeks, I was browsing around in the private investment club site I was a member of. They had this investment site set up with various sections for the members to interact with each other and also learn other things like, cooking, vacations, sports/fitness, movies and BOOKS.

    Never ever being a person who would read a book or have any desire to, one day I found this urge to venture into the book section. This was very strange as I look back on it, because after months of being a member there, I never had the least bit of desire to look at this book section of the forum/site.

    As I browsed down the titles on the left side, I quickly was captivated by one title there. Conversations With God. I saw there were about 7 posts or comments there under that title and so I was intrigued and wanted to see what this could be about.

    All of the responses or comments were similar and had me wanting to visit the book store and have a peek inside these books. At the time I thought it was just one book, but found out it was a series of books.

    One peek inside was all it took! I was floored by what I read on just one page and was soon buying one each week and reading them from cover to cover nonstop.

    For me Rachel, there is nobody, nowhere that can come up with this info, make it all up and have it be so good, feel so right and make such perfect sense, every single statement or answer to Neale’s questions felt so right to me and made such perfect sense, it could not come from anyone other than God, Creator, Source, Source Energy, you name it.

    Now, after many books by many people, entities, and Masters, I have come to learn about how the bible came to be, who put it all together and where. I have learned about how Jesus’s desciples, apostles and even friends and family were all arguing after he left about what exactly he meant in many of his speeches or teachings, sermons if you will.

    They argued about all of it and for some of what he taught that they did understand, they did not agree with him on some of it. Letters had to be sent to one of his closest friends or disciple, because they had gotten way off that path with what they were teaching their followers.

    Paul was really Saul and a bad man, against Jesus the whole time, until Jesus visited him in spirit and had a litte talk with him.

    I learned about the beatdown given by the early Catholic leaders, upon anyone who did not agree or follow THEIR way and decided upon beliefs.

    Constantine put together a council of Roman politicians and tax collectors at the Council of Nicea and they are the ones who decided what was going to be the Universal religion, belief system moving forward.

    Sorry for the long response here, but I would love for you or anyone else with an open mind to look into the book sold at ShantiChristo.com, a book channeled or given to us by Jeshua (Jesus). Also either visit Judith Coates in Tacoma Washington or buy the book she sells called Jesus and Mastership. This book in his own words was given to a minister in Texas years ago, inspired writings, and it is all about his late teens, his twenties, on into his ministry and some even about after the resurrection and his meetings with Moses and Elijah to learn about his new life on the Spiritualized Earth plane where he can pop into this plane and out of it at will.

    Judith Coates is the most pure and clear channel for him on Earth. She was his teacher with the Essenes on Mt Carmel when he was a youth and they have hooked up in this day and time to share his teachings for the people living here and now.

    When you visit her during her monthly sessions with HIm, you can ask him anything. You will surely see, that he knows you well, everything about you and even your current thoughts flowing through your mind! He knows this life of yours and all your other lives too.

    There is no psychic on the planet who can do this or who knows you like this. I have many sessions saved on my PC here and I am convinced bigtime, that this is Jeshua coming through this channel.

    Thanks for allowing me to share the road that I have gone down with regards to this subject!

    Jeff

    Reply
  4. Hey Rachel I actually just stumbled on this post because I was researching for my upcoming juice fast and found some of your other entries. I admire the straight-forward way that you described your experience. I’ve got to say that there are so many churches out that are all very different. There are places where you can grow and learn in the way that you said you had hoped to. I guess the biggest thing I got from your post was how sad that the message of Love was not conveyed to you on your visit as clearly as it could have been. Honestly, that is the essence of Christianity. “God is Love.” And not some kind of sick, judgmental sort of love but the kind of love that is full of compassion and forgiveness. It can be easy to lose sight of that, especially in some religious environments where man’s tradition has been built on top of the true power of who God is. It can distort it. I hope you keep seeking to discover this love because it is very real and I something that I feel really happy to have in my life. The whole purpose of Christ dying was not to create a problem as you said before, the problem already existed in that humans were flawed and the laws of the universe would result in them having to pay for those flaws. He died to provide an answer so that the payment and the guilt was no longer on our shoulders. Best of luck on your spiritual and life journey:)

    Reply
  5. Dear Rachel, God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Mohamed, Universe, Positive thoughts, the All, I Am, etc all exists within you already. Church is a place where you can gather and walk with said names; anytime and anyplace. No building required and all the ceremonies therein. Love yourself and love others as you do yourself. Bottom line . . .

    Peace and Love

    Reply
    • I think Jorge has it about right.

      If organized religion works for you, that is fantastic. But you don’t NEED it, it is simply a resource and a gathering place for others to help you find your “GOD”.

      I spent my younger years searching and questioning. And what I discovered was that the onus was really on me to find, refine and develop my spiritual nature. I personally found organized church to be much more of an impediment to this than an aid. But I don’t look down on those who find it a tremendous help in their own personal searches.

      We are all unique individuals on this big blue orb. And in the end all that we have is each other, in the here and now. The fact is that even if we personally know thousands and thousands of people in this life; that 50 years after we die there will be precious few of the living who will remember us at all. So in the big scheme of things we are here for just an instant. And then we are gone.

      So as Jorge said, “Love yourself and love others as you do yourself”. That is an almost universal tenet of every major religion that man has invented. So that is truly the bottom line.

      Reply
  6. Hi Rachel,
    Thanks for sharing your experience with your first worship service. As a member of a non-Christian religion, I am always interested in how people find their chosen path to God.

    It’s important for us to respect how people come to our services, to make them feel welcome without overwhelming them.

    Test driving different services is a great idea. I think you have to get a feeling for how a congregation is before making a commitment to joining one (if that’s your intention).

    Sounds like you have a spiritual nature and are doing just fine on your own.

    All the best,
    Theresa

    Reply
  7. Rachel,

    Rachel I ask you think about the message shared, and send me an email soon, and let’s chat ok…

    Acts 7:48-50, 1 Corinthians 3:9, 1 Corinthians 3:16

    Yes, I believe in God…

    I am very thankful for my salvation, and I really enjoy the refreshing Love God shares…

    When I hear someone claim they don’t believe, Have they ever once diligently started seeking him?

    Can one see what Love looks like? Does Love have wings? Does one experience true Love, and not believe it’s real?

    Can one believe the wind, and gravity is real or not? One has free-will, But if they claim not to believe, The wind will still blow, and they shall continue to dance in what they call gravity…

    Acts 4:10-12, John 14:6, Isaiah 45:18

    Kind Regards,
    raptureprophecy.com

    nj

    Reply
  8. No religion can ever save a person. Because only Jesus is the way, like He said “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life…” No matter how a person is prayerful or a Bible reader or a very good person who loves everyone, those are *nothing* and are not the *qualifications* to meet God the Father in Heaven and everything still goes back to the fact that we must accept Jesus Christ. God sent His Son into this world to die for us and save us.

    The church is the *body of Christ* so no matter how spiritual we can ever be, we still need to be connected with other *children of God*. And in Revelation, the church is the *bride* and Jesus is the *groom* and one day, Jesus will come back for His *bride*.

    “I’ll continue to live each day, day by day, on my own terms.”

    – Note the *own*. Wow, that’s a pretty strong one. Yes, we all have a life and we make our own decisions. God gave us a freewill so we can decide for ourselves that we think is right and could make us happy. But no matter what decisions we make, good or bad, they are all God’s will for us. If it’s good, He blesses us. And if it’s bad, He teaches us. Funny how people blame God when bad things happen to them and when good things happen, they praise themselves because they say they’ve done it on their own and think they’re great. The real thing is, we should blame ourselves if bad things happen to us because we were the ones who made that certain decision and we should praise Him and give all the glory to Him alone when He blesses us. I believe that we can never live in our own terms no matter how great we are. There is always someone behind us — and that is God.

    But anyways, it’s a great post and I admire the honesty and openness. Hearing other people say Christians are crazy or whatever is overrated. Crazy Christians do exist, in my opinion. They sometimes ‘adjust’ to the things of the world, which is just ridiculous. We should never ever modify the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. Why are there crazy Christians? Christianity has different denominations and there are different churches that teaches different doctrines. Just like internet marketing. There’s affiliate marketing, blogging, web 2.0, etc. I could say the church you’ve visited is a Gospel preaching church. Like Frank said, “It sounds like the church you went to was a pretty solid, Bible Believing church… As such, they’re not always going to tell you what you want to hear… they’re going to tell you what you NEED to hear.” If you have time to visit them again, feel free to do so. I think it’s a really good church. Church is not built to *flatter* us and tell us what we want to hear. Jesus built the church to tell us the truth and nothing but the truth and as you know, truth hurts.

    Well… At least you gave the church a shot. I suggest, you give Jesus a shot too. Try to experience Jesus and He will never let you down. :) May you discover Him more and more as you read the Bible.

    God bless ya.

    Feiyie

    Reply
  9. Thank you for sharing! I was very impresssed with your objective description of your experience. Sounds like you visited a great church with friendly people.

    Nicole

    Reply
  10. Hi Rachel,

    Very interesting post.

    I noticed something, those who left comments for you seem to love and care for you very much, may their comments leave little doubt in mind as where that love comes from Rachel.

    Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…

    Doug

    PS – I recommend when reading the story of the Prodigal(Lost) son in Luke 15:11-32 notice in verse 20 how when the lost son’s father sees his boy returning home that he “ran” to meet him. I find this most interesting, and I believe God will run to anyone who sincerely seeks to return to Him.

    Reply
  11. Rachael,
    It took a lot of courage for you to post about your spiritual experiences considering how much on this topic gets a boatload of opinions. I don’t want to sound spiritual but it may for someone that would entirely ignore the facts that a spiritual world does exist of which we cannot understand nor duplicate. Opinions about heaven vs hell, good vs evil, or God vs the devil are points well taken but in the description of a christian seems to be a gray area to pinpoint and define.
    The two things that I have observed over the years is not to depend on a church or a man to define only an opinion. Going straight to the facts and apply some faith with the evidence of His word, ie. bible, gives value to your belief.
    The second is a quote of which I have verified that is profound by C.S.Lewis, also the author of the Narnia books,
    and he said “Those that say to God ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says ‘All right then, have it your way”!
    After that has been said I believe a true christian would carry that attitude around not to judge but to open the invitation to discover if and who God is.

    Based upon your last statement:
    I’ll continue to live each day, day by day, on my own terms. I’m glad for the experience though and plan on reading the Bible soon, just to learn more.

    I can gaurantee that if you follow through with your reading of the 66 books of the bible you might find that christians are real people with a real God.

    Reply
  12. In my observation, people try to find god and reported that they couldn’t find them and give up and went on with their life.

    There are another people who tried to find god but they didn’t see what they are seeking. They persisted and broke the ‘wall’ and experienced a great spiritual discovery.

    And there are another group who woke up with a great ephinany and made a great transformation so suddenly that everyone’s jaw dropped.

    Religious aren’t necessary bad. In fact, they are those people are happier and secure due to the value system they subscribed to that has put them on a good path.

    Remember, it is a finite people try to understand the infinite mysterious entity. The finite people try to help other finite people understand and they end up with their own interpretation that confused everyone. It give religious a bad name. Often, people don’t pursue far enough to get the fact straight. It is why you see a hardcore athetist easily proclaim their belief for god when they once make an effort to put the fact together and realized there is a greater calling.

    Ethnocentrism is often the problem that the one who impose it on others and push it into the corner so and everyone end up biting each other. I reckon it is the worst thing a Christian can do.

    Reply
  13. I’m a bit late to the party but…

    You absolutely don’t need any kind of church (Christian or otherwise) or attend services to have a relationship with God. If you read the bible and pray God will reveal himself to you.

    Reply
  14. I enjoyed this post. I had a similar experience when trying to go to my girlfriends church. Though I was 35ish, I didn’t really get that christians don’t believe dinosaurs existed. I just assumed they had some simple or elaborate way to reconcile it with their beliefs. Especially since carbon dating has been proven to be flawed.

    I tried to stay but when I found out that they kicked out one of their pastors who had a revelation that Jesus died for everyone’s sins whether they accept him or not. I was through. I already believed that, and I knew that during the first 200 yrs or so of christianity this was the only interpretation taught, until Rome stepped in and created the catholic church.

    I say this to tell you that you are right on point about the mind control tactic, they are full of them. Also, Jesus loves you, and so does Bhudda, Allah and Krishna for that matter.

    Reply
    • to Joshua:
      re:”Jesus loves you, and so does Bhudda, Allah and Krishna for that matter.”

      They all contradict each other, they can’t all be right. Jesus is the only one who claimed that He was the only way to the Father in Heaven. He is the only one who is alive today!

      Reply
  15. Rachel, thanks for your post. I enjoyed it.

    I was going through some similar times, was looking and still I am for answers…and was checking out anything… various religions, spiritual groups,
    esotericism… now I’m not member of any religion group but still visit one of them.

    I actually don’t care about when someone’s talking about good or bad Christians, I’m in the church for listening to God’s word… and some lectures really address my life! :-)

    I don’t solve something like where to belong to, which group or sect to belong to… I’m clear on how and why God created us..and I’m focusing more on what He has to say…by listening and reading the Bible.

    Again thanks for the post, it’s appreciated! Enjoy your day :-)

    Marian

    Reply
  16. Great topic Rachel. I’m not a “Bible thumper” but I am a believer and I must say I agree with everything Frank Souza said. Especially that the truth is the truth, and that may or may not be what we want it to be. But it’s worth searching for.

    Like everything, if you want answers, go straight to the source – pray with a sincere heart and read the Bible and the answers will come.

    As for your church experience, this is my .02 cents. Church is a great place to be lifted up. Ideally, it’s supposed to be that together you can lift each other higher than you can on your own. You will find that in some churches and not in others. Why? Because humans are mortal and we make mistakes. Like people of all faiths, some walk the walk, and some don’t. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you are perfect all the time, but that you have made a commitment to at least try to live by the word and to be good to others. I would imagine that is true of other faiths as well.

    If you want the truth, other people can help, but ultimately, it’s best to look for it from God Himself. The Bible teaches not to use faith as a prop to make you look better. If you see that, just know that what you are seeing is not in accordance with what the Bible teaches. Likewise, we’re certainly not supposed to judge others – “judge not, lest ye be judged yourself.”

    As for Brad’s question, my interpretation of the Bible is that those who have not had a chance to learn of Christ, will have that chance in the afterlife. I firmly believe that if you lead a good life, and are good to others, you will be blessed in the next life.

    My friends from the past would be shocked at this post. I used to do everything I wasn’t supposed to and many would be surprised to hear that I’m a believer. I’m nowhere near perfect, and I never will be, but I’m trying and that has been more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. I don’t call myself a Born Again, that is not really a term I personally agree with. But I do believe in God and in Jesus Christ and my life is richer now that I have a relationship with God.

    I don’t shove my beliefs down people’s throats and I don’t want them shoving theirs down mine. That said, I saw your post, and the responses, as an invitation to pipe in with my .02 cents. I hope it is somewhat helpful and I commend you on your journey and for at least searching it out with an open mind. Best of luck,

    Kyle

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  17. This topic has legs!
    I suggest you visit churches in Europe & report back on them too.
    It’s hard to understand history and cultures without understanding their religions.

    If you’re really looking for a like-minded community, see if there’s a United Centers for Spiritual Living (Science of Mind/Religious Science) group near you. It’s the original affiliation of Rev. Michael Beckwith from “The Secret” movie. Many people who want a spiritual community that’s accepting of all truth teachings find these centers welcoming.

    I take notes too–it’s a kinesthetic path to learning.

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  18. Wow I just woke up from a short nap Thinking i was totally wrong in my recall.
    It is 1 Corinthians 13:8 This is from International Standard Version Of the good book, I kind of really like this version, Kind of off my line of thinking on the subject but reference is made to her as it is kind if genderizing love. A very cool twist, very respectful I feel.

    If I have absolute faith so as to move mountains but have no love,
    I am nothing.
    Even if I give away everything that I have and sacrifice myself,
    but have no love, I gain nothing.

    Love is always patient

    love is always kind;

    love is never envious

    or arrogant with pride.

    Nor is she conceited and she is never rude;

    she never thinks just of herself

    or ever get annoyed.

    She never is resentful;

    is never glad with sin,

    but always glad to side with truth,

    whene’er the truth should win

    She bears up under everything,

    believes the best in all,

    there is no limit to her hope,

    and she will never fall.

    8) Love never fails.

    Romans 8.28 was
    And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

    Just correcting my recall. As I said the bible really is a great read.
    Brad West ~ onomoney

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  19. Hi Rachel,

    I followed a twitter trail somehow to your post, you tell a your experience in a fantastic manner. I am working on honing my writing skills some in hopes that I will be able to convey a message as well someday.

    This could be a very long story, so I will try to keep it to a few comments. I grew up made to go to church every Sunday.

    I can tell you many stories form the good book. Many very fascinating, from murder and incest, to flooding and drought, feast to famine, births to deaths and fishing. Had to through the fishing in there I haven’t been in such a long time. Great stories, Great Book.

    Then I fell away, backslid, or what ever they want to call it for a long time. Whatever they called it didn’t really matter. I was lost until the age of about 40. I sold my business on the east coast, moved to Seattle and went to Massage School for a year, Not realizing that I was on a quest, my full intent was to exercise my brain with the challenges of school, and party.

    Not one that can take much of city living (grew up in a town of 1000 people) I set myself up in a situation about 45 minutes southeast of the city out in the sticks. Nice little pad with the hot tub and the whole bit, great for entertaining or relaxing. there was allot of both.

    Many hours were spent studying text for class, it seemed that the more I studied the body the more I understood the energy behind being spiritual. I understood that praying was well just positive thought, and why massive prayer chains got the results they did, was the actual energy being created and directed, causing action. No one could ever explain to me why to pray except that I had to have faith. It never really did anything for me, WHY?

    I do believe in, Something Superior. The reason I try to keep it generic I guess is to remove the vision part that people try so hard to develop but it is not there. The dude that sits on the throne with the pearly gates who judges you, Just so totally doesn’t do it for me.

    I prefer to see the energy as air, just clear pure air (well someplace) at times gentle at times strong, but always with unconditional love.

    Ok this is actually short, I think this is what I had the biggest problem with dealing specifically with Christianity, or the declaration their of. I could not see being given an ultimatum instead of an answer. I couldn’t understand why anyone that did not take Jesus Christ into their hearts would go to hell. “For whom shall believith in him shall not perish but have everlasting life” My question ever since I can remember was “what happens to the people in the world that never heard of Jesus”? The answer I always got was they don’t go to heaven.

    To me that was a totally unexceptionable answer and it stands to be today.

    My God is bigger than your god! the only way I can truly explain My God is LOVE. There is nothing more powerful and pure than unconditional love.
    I do believe I can remember in Romans 8.28 Love Never Fails, I don’t know what made me remember that. I think there was also something about you being the temple of god. Not sure of the reference don’t really care. Read the book a couple times, Very cool. Great marketing tips when it comes to how to treat others.

    I must stop now
    Rachel it has been a blast
    I need to take a copy of this and see if it made any since
    I have tried to explain where I am before without any real luck,
    Come visit
    Brad West ~ onomoney

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  20. Unfortunately, religion teaches it’s followers that their way is the only way. It is how religions survive. Everyone else is not priveleged with the knowledge “we” have and it is our job to spread it.
    This is not exclusive to Christians. My parents were Muslim and the same hold true for them…and I assume most other religions. Here is the problem. If a Muslim was taught his/her way is the only way and the Christian was taught his/her way was the only way…which one is right?
    This will most probably offend some, but here is a question to ask yourself. What is the difference between a religion and a cult? Answer: the # of people that accept the doctrine.

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  21. Wow – interesting post and sadly…what many experience at a church.

    My dad is a pastor; father in law is a pastor; and I’ve been a born again Christian since age 6.

    I’m not going to debate your beliefs, I know you’re a strong willed independent thinker like I am.

    That being said: I’m also intelligent, educated, savvy, successful, well-rounded and not brainwashed in the least.

    I love my church family – that’s what we are – a support group – a network – like-minded community.

    However…I’m anti-religion; anti-ritual; anti-follow the pastor, the crowd, the trend…

    I’m pro-RELATIONSHIP – meaning Christianity isn’t about CHURCH, the building – it’s about a relationship with Christ.

    Yes, I believe Jesus is the only way to true peace, true joy and end of searching.

    Church is more about the fellowship; the connectedness; was established for the same reason as MASTERMIND Groups!! to grow us, nurture us, help us learn from others.

    thanks for sharing and being so open!

    Carrie Wilkerson
    The Barefoot Executive
    http://theBossMovie.com

    Reply
  22. Hi Rachel. If you’re looking for a church that’s more open-minded, I’d recommend the Unitarian Universalist church. I don’t go any church currently (religion is the opium of the people), but I grew up in a highly religious, very close-minded Baptist church.

    I’ve done a lot of “deprogramming” due to many of the negative/close-minded beliefs that were taught to me as a child. Today, I avoid all forms of organized religion — as I think they are merely herding grounds for sheep (brainwashing and control). There are a ton of very hypocritical people in today’s Christian churches. They say one thing on Sunday, but act very differently during the week. Many churches are cliques, where people go to feel good about themselves (they are “chosen,” “saved” and “heirs to the throne”). Meanwhile, everyone else is “deceived.” It’s a form of mental superiority and it makes the “saved” ones feel exclusive (inside community — Cialdini’s persuasion factors), elite, and better than everyone else.

    One of the biggest issues I have with religion is the concept of “original sin” and the idea that men are inherently evil. I think that’s a very disempowering belief system. I believe that most people are inherently good. Ayn Rand wrote brilliantly about the concept of “original sin” in Atlas Shrugged. You should check it out.

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  23. Hi Rachel, I loved the post here….. and I encourage you to KEEP SEEKING. But it sounds to me like you’re going to church to get re-enforcement for what you want church to be, rather than to LEARN what is true.

    It sounds like the church you went to was a pretty solid, Bible Believing church… As such, they’re not always going to tell you what you want to hear… they’re going to tell you what you NEED to hear.

    It’s like the people who say “MY GOD would never do this” “or things like “My God would never send people to hell” or something like that. Their God? So they design a God to fit their desires? Then who is the creator? God? Or the people who design him around their only partially stable beliefs and desires.

    If you REALLY want to know the truth, then pray that God will reveal to you the truth. He will.

    I say these things because that’s exactly how I was till I really began to study what the Bible is. When I really began to understand that, I could read the bible and LEARN what it said, not just trying to make it say what I WANTED it to say, then my life really changed for good, (and for eternity).

    You know me. You know as a programmer, the logical, linear type of thinking that goes through my brain. One book that really helped me to understand some of the really tough questions was “Answers to Tough Questions” by Josh McDowell.

    You’re a special friend Rachel, I really enjoyed talking to you today. When you get back from Europe we really need to get together and discuss this more…. maybe at another IM event…

    Have fun in Europe, I’m jealous… I really love that place!

    Frank Sousa

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  24. Interesting post! As a Christian more or less all my life (I don’t count when I was to young to know what was going on) I have one quick comment; for Christians Religion is not about being happy or making money or anything of that nature (at least it’s not supposed to be), what it is about is renewing our severed bond with God. We belive this happens when a person accepts the Christs freely given grace and a process of spiritual regeneration begins. OK, not wanting to type a sermon, just wanted to throw that out.
    Hope Europe is a blast!!

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  25. Rachel,
    I, [trying to get used to this purple text in the edit box], for one am not surprised with your findings and whole heartedly agree an many fronts. I won’t give a sermon on my beliefs nor expect others to accept them. I’m not a fan of pastor bashing. Plus, I personally had a hard enough time wrapping myself around the triune for years. And that with having church in my life So, no fan of religion am I. A believer I am. And more.

    So with that said, I’ll thank you for your unbiased views.
    Dang, I was about to apologize for that church and pastor.. hmm, check me out trying to take credit for others…

    Follow where HE leads you, thats all.
    Watched Spiderwick Chronicles tonight with my 5yr old.
    She had so many questions.
    I told her,
    “Be patient.
    It is the way God works.
    The answers will come,
    we just have to wait for them.
    Always”.

    I am glad the first post I read of yours was this one.
    Thanks,
    Dan–

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  26. I saw your “tweet” about this (I’m, er uh, following you), and decided to pop over here and see what you had to say about your “first” church visit.

    It looks to me like you had a decent time, and that you drew some parallels (maybe) with “life”, as it is/were. I am a believer, yet I don’t practice in the “traditional” sense.

    You appear to be a well-grounded person, and I’m certain that you attract a varied crowd. I try to do the same, in that I know that everyone is different, yet in many ways the same.

    Thanks for an entertaining post!

    Be Well!
    ECS Dave

    Reply

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