What Does it Mean to Love God?

In important ways

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If you are new to this blog, Welcome. You may want to start reading the series of articles at the beginning, or pick an article from the Table of Contents.

If you haven’t yet read my articles titled Who (or What) is God? – Part I, Who (or What) is God? – Part II and The Secret to Happiness, I suggest you go back and read them now, as they give you background to understand this one better.

There’s more to loving God than going to church, singing hymns and prayer. If you go to church on Sunday, and do all the things there that the righteous do, but you do not live as God wants during the rest of the week, you are not showing true love of God. I will list some of the important ways you can put your love of God into practice in your everyday life. In this list, I will include Bible quotations that show that these are behaviors that God desires of us.

(In a future article, I will discuss some of the findings I have read by true Bible scholars about the validity of the Bible. They are definitely not what the popular culture and the media have been telling you lately.)

Here’s my list:

Love your neighbor
One of my favorite Bluegrass songs is built around the line “If you don’t love your neighbor, then you don’t love God.” This is a tremendous message. It is based on the second of Jesus’ Great Commandments (Mathew 22:36-40). Your neighbor here means more than the folks in the house next to yours. In this context, your neighbor is anybody that you share your world with. In Luke, this concept is expressed as “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31 NIV). The song is very true. Loving our neighbors is one of the most important ways we can practice our love of God.

Be honest and truthful
Be honest and truthful in everything you do. There are many places in the Bible where it is said that God loves truth. There are other bible references that indicate that God hates lies and liars. You can explore some of these with Google or other search tools.

We all run into situations where it seems best to either omit some of the truth (as you see it) or to tell a “white lie,” especially where the full truth might hurt others. Let your conscience (which is influenced by the Holy Spirit) be your guide on this. If you use the “white lie” too loosely, you will weave a tangled web.

The old saying, “Honesty is the best policy” holds true for nearly all situations.

Pay your bills
“Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:7-8 ESV) This one is actually a combination of the first two that I listed. After all, if you love your neighbor, you will pay him what you owe him. If you promised your neighbor you would pay him for something he sold to you, it would be dishonest not to pay him.

Give to those less fortunate
There are many places in the Bible that talk about giving.  I like the way this one puts it:  “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV)

Avoid Racism
There are places in the Bible that touch upon ethnic differences and racism. They are hard to recognize because the ethnic groups dealt with, and the terms for them, are different than we are used to. However, in my reading, the following quote was pointed out, in which Paul makes a fairly clear statement: “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” (Colossians 3:11) This points out that God expects we should treat everybody the same.

Support your Family
In today’s society, too many fathers, and some mothers, abandon their spouse and children. If you are fortunate enough to become a parent, your family should be your first priority. Here is a verse that emphasizes that duty: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8 ESV)

Respect God’s Instructions
In addition to the items mentioned above, there are other matters in which God has instructed us how to behave. The Ten Commandments come to mind.

The above list is not complete. Can you think of other ways that someone’s behavior shows that he (or she) loves God and respects His instructions to us?  If you report a good one to me in the Reply box or in an e-mail (using the Contact button at the top of this article), I might add your suggestion to the list.

May God give you strength and courage to live according to His principles, even when it is neither popular nor politically correct.

Here’s a link to another video of Rhonda Vincent and friends performing “If You Don’t Love Your Neighbor, Then You Don’t Love God”:

Other Religions

Live and let others live

A note from the author:  Welcome to my blog. If you would like to start this series of articles from the beginning, click here: first post.  I hope you enjoy the article.  Don’t forget to leave your comments.

I am a Christian, but I have a hard time believing that Christians are the only ones who have access to God.  For me, one of the more difficult of Jesus’ sayings is: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

My idea of God is that He would also welcome those coming from non-Christian religions if they are otherwise qualified.  My understanding of God’s grace implies that non-Christians, approaching with the right attitude, could be saved.  Could Jesus have been misquoted or misunderstood?  Maybe.  Could this quote have been mistranslated somewhere in the chain from the actual saying to current versions of the Bible?  Maybe.  Can we be misled if we analyze this statement apart from the larger context in which it was uttered?  Could be.

After I started working on this post, I did a little Google searching and came up with articles on about 3 sides of this issue.  Some maintained that Jesus said what he meant and meant what he said, and that believers in no other religion (that did not go through Christ) could be saved.  Others took a somewhat inclusive view saying something like “Jesus may save a few of them, as they approach Him after death.”  Still others took a pluralistic view, saying that Jesus was the Christian manifestation of a deity that existed in other forms in other religions.

I can’t answer this mystery to my own satisfaction.  I’ll have to leave it to God to resolve.  I will not be one who insists that anybody is going to Hell simply because he is not a Christian, or especially because he is not a member of my particular Christian organization.

So, my policy is that I am able to respect believers in any other God-centered religion, as long as their religion does not teach that they should enslave, rape, kill, or otherwise harm others who they consider to be infidels.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, there are several branches of the Muslim faith that I cannot respect.  I do not know enough about the various Muslim sects to know which one is which.  Moderate Muslims, who are not advocating or waging jihad, are OK with me.  I have worked with some that are fine people.

I agree with those in political circles who say we should be very careful about admitting people to our country from the areas of the world that are experiencing a lot of militant extremism.  That is not hate or bigotry.  That is only taking reasonable precautions to protect our people.

There are various Satanic and similar groups who I cannot respect, because they do not worship or follow anything close to our concept of God.

I believe that citizens of our country should be free to worship as they choose, or join any religious organization that they choose, as long as they or their religious organization, does not do harm, or advocate harm, to others who do not believe as they do.  In other words, live and let others live.

When an individual, or an organization, starts doing or advocating harm to others, they have crossed the line into criminal activity, and they should be treated as criminals.

Table of Contents

List of Articles

Welcome to my blog about the Secret of Happiness and the part that God plays in it.  Here is the list of Articles that I have posted so far.  Click on one to navigate to it.

How I found the happy people - Don't just take my word - look for yourself
The Secret to Happiness - It's simple, it's right, it works!
Who (or What) is God? – Part I - How I know God exists
A Pause for Some Fun! - Enjoy another Gaither music video
Who (or What) is God? – Part II - Speculating on what God is like
Obstacles - How I have dealt with them
Private Beliefs vs. the Great Commission - Should you keep your beliefs to yourself?
What if God is a Myth? - Answering Mr. Skeptic's question.
Other Religions - Live and let others live
What Does it Mean to Love God? - In important ways
How do you get to know God? - Start by introducing yourself
Is the New Testament True? - Can you believe the story of Jesus?
A Quiet Christian Speaks – Part Two - We should not keep silent
Messages from the Music - I hear them, do you?
A Quiet Christian Speaks – Part Three - Silence is a form of acceptance
A Quiet Christian Speaks – Part Four - Jesus will make things right
Science, Religion and Creation - There should be no conflict
Proof and Truth - More thoughts on Science, Religion and Creation
Body and Soul - As Landlord and Tenant
Meeting my Soul – Part One - Getting to know my best friend
Meeting my Soul – Part Two - The conversation continues
A Lesson From the Bear - How does Mama Bear know what to do?

What if God is a Myth?

Answering Mr. Skeptic’s question.

A note from the author:  Welcome to my blog. If you would like to start this series of articles from the beginning, click here: first post.  I hope you enjoy the article.  Don’t forget to leave your comments.

In my imaginary debates with a skeptic, Mr. Skeptic says something like “What if God is only a myth?  What if there is no Heaven and no Hell and when you die, Poof-that’s the end of you?”  I’ll give my answers to those questions in this article.

If you remember, I said in my Who or What is God – Part I article that I would not be able to prove God’s existence to Mr. Skeptic’s satisfaction.  Ultimately, I had to choose to believe.  So, let’s go along with Mr. Skeptic’s premise for a bit and see where it takes us.

Remember the happy people I saw in the Bill Gaither music videos?  I hope you watched some of those videos too, so you know what I’m talking about. (See How I found the Happy People)  If God is a myth, let’s agree not to tell those folks, OK?  They are having a heck of a good time in their delusion.  It would be an absolute shame to spoil it for them!  If I have a choice between (a) living life as happy as they are while believing a myth, or (b) living in a sad reality with no hope of a better life in the hereafter, give me choice (a)!

If God is a myth, then Jesus must be a myth as well. Certainly much of what he said and taught would be false, if that were the case.  Jesus’ Great Commandments – the twin concepts of loving God (and He loving you) and the Golden Rule (Treat others as well as you would like to be treated yourself) would be undermined!  This is the basis of much of our morality that we are talking about here.  Wow, we’d better not let that secret get out! If it did, the moral structure of the Western World would rapidly decay.

If God is a myth, the very basis of the happiness of large segments of the population would be rendered invalid.

Reality Check!!!
The moral structure of the Western World, and especially the USA, is decaying before our very eyes.  Could the reasons be related to the facts that religious belief and moral teaching are being discouraged, or even banned, by the politically correct popular culture, and that a growing percentage of the population no longer believes?

So, if the afterlife (whether Heaven, Hell or someplace in between) is a myth, we have far less incentive to behave ourselves while we are alive, don’t we?  If I’m just going to go poof, with nothing left of me, when this earthly life is over, aren’t I better off to have lived in the myths of God and hope (even if false) of a better life in the Hereafter?

The Choice
You choose what you want to do, but as for me, I’m sticking with my belief that I have been adopted into my Father God’s family, which makes me a child of God and makes Jesus my amazing big brother.  If it’s all a myth, there’s still a lot of good, and no harm, that comes out of this choice.

If I am right, and God is real, I am right where I belong. Where will you be?

 

Private Beliefs vs. the Great Commission

Should you keep your beliefs to yourself?

A note from the author:  Welcome to my blog. If you would like to start this series of articles from the beginning, click here: first post.  I hope you enjoy the article.  Don’t forget to leave your comments.

My earlier experiences led to a perception of many religious people as pushy, holier-than-thou, hypocrites. (See my article Obstacles) In reaction to this, I developed a philosophy during my teen and college years that one should study and develop their religious beliefs on their own, that one should not try to push their beliefs on other people, and that one should not force their children to go to church, once they get old enough to object.

This philosophy carried over into my parenting. We were not regular churchgoers and the churches where we took our children on Easter and Christmas, and a few other rare occasions, were generally horrible for children. (I could barely stand some of them as an adult.)  The singing was dry and painful to listen to.  Sometimes, the sermons weren’t much better.  There was little of the spirit and joy that I have since seen in other places.

I must say, though, that the Pentacostal church that my mother-in-law and her family attended was an exception. There was joy in their music, for sure.

I felt that my children could and would develop their own religious beliefs.  Looking back now, I feel that I neglected a significant part of my duty as a parent.

Part of me still firmly believes that one’s faith should be between themselves and God, and that it’s nobody else’s business.  OK, so why am I baring my soul and my beliefs by writing and publishing these articles?  Is it an ego thing?  No, I don’t think so.  Do I feel that I need to boast of my holy relationship with the Father?  No, far from it.  I don’t feel that I’m holier than anyone.  In fact, key parts of my philosophy are to be humble and to respect the beliefs of others, who may have forged their relationship with God in a different way.

In a way, my current project of writing all of these articles for you to read runs counter to my philosophy and belief.  The reason I am doing this is found in several of the quotes from Jesus.  Perhaps the more popular is found in Matthew 28:18-20

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

A short and sweet version of this instruction is found in John 20:21

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

This instruction from Jesus is often called the Great Commission.  If you use Google, or some other search engine, you will find many articles on it. One good one is found here:
What is the Great Commission?

As a follower of Christ, I believe I have a duty to share my beliefs with others, and to help them to come to a relationship with the Lord.  However, I am not an aggressive person, and I firmly believe that others should be allowed to absorb religion (or not) at their own speed and of their own free will.  So, my way of dealing with these two seemingly conflicting beliefs is to tell my story in these articles, to publicize the articles, and to pray that the articles will help others on their journey.  I’m putting the information out there.  What you do with it is up to you.  At the start, I am using Facebook to make these articles known.  As I further develop and refine the blog, I hope to find other means of publicizing it as well.

By the way, I have already received a special blessing from doing this writing.  One of my cousins, the only one that I had not met since becoming an adult, contacted me recently via Facebook chat.  She said that she enjoyed the articles and a couple of stories that I told about times past in our old home town.  I felt rewarded for some of my work right there.

I would love to have your comments and feedback on this project, even if you think I’m off my rocker.  Some of my friends have preferred to give me feedback in other ways than the Reply box at the end of each article.  There is a Contact item in the menu line at the top of the article that you could use to send me an e-mail as well.  If you ask me a question, I will try my best to answer it.

Obstacles

How I have dealt with them

A note from the author:  Welcome to my blog. If you would like to start this series of articles from the beginning, click here: first post.  I hope you enjoy the article.  Don’t forget to leave your comments.

This article describes various obstacles that I have encountered on my journey toward the goal of being right with the Lord.

Some of my early personal story contributed to problems I had with religion later on. I’ll start with a brief description of two incidents.

Insensitivity / “Holier than thou” attitude / Hypocrisy
I grew up in a small town. In fact, it was a one church town. The church was affiliated with the Conservative Baptist organization, and it adjoined our small dairy farm. In my pre-teen years, my younger brother and I attended this church some of the time and participated in several of their youth activities.

In the spring of 1962, my family and I were in a tragic auto accident. We had downsized our family car a few months before, from a 1957 Buick to a Renault Dauphine. Before the accident, we thought our Renault was a fun and economical little car. One Sunday morning, on a gravel back road that was about 1.5 lanes wide, we were hit head-on near the crest of a hill by a full-sized Pontiac that was going too fast and in the middle of the road. You can imagine which car got the worst of that. My dad got his left lower leg and ankle shattered. My sister had her face cut up and she still bears the scars. I had a cut on the inside of my lower lip. My brother did not have any apparent injuries. My mom died at the scene. I could supply a few more details, but that’s not my purpose here.

Being in a small town, where pretty much everybody knew everybody else, there was a lot of talk about this tragic event. Neighbors and friends, and especially my uncle, pitched in to help us keep the farm going while Dad was laid up. One day, maybe a month after the accident, the Pastor was visiting Dad while I was cleaning the barn with a hired man. The hired man told me that our Pastor had told the men assembled at my grandfather’s garage (the local men’s hangout) something like “If she had been in the church on Sunday morning, like she should have been, this would not have happened to her.” This was especially insensitive because the proprietors of the establishment were the father and the brother of the wonderful lady who had been killed. Within minutes after I was told this quote, I went in the house, hot under the collar, to have a word with Mr. Pastor!

When I came in the house, the Pastor started by inviting me to attend church. I told him, in no uncertain terms, that he would never see me in that church, as long as he was still there. Dad was shocked and embarrassed by my rude behavior. Up until then, everyone had protected Dad from the Pastor’s insensitive comment by not repeating it to him. After I spilled the beans, Dad understood me a little better, though he still didn’t approve of the way I lit into the Pastor.

With time, and perhaps with the wisdom that comes with age, I have come to the point where I better understand the Pastor’s remark, and even have a small bit of respect for the point he was trying to make. Even though I no longer remember his name, I have not totally forgiven him.

During those years, Pastors didn’t last too long in that little church. Several of them moved on, for various reasons. There was another incident, with a different Pastor, 2 or 3 years later, that contributed to my negative attitude toward religion. I heard some of the story at the time, and heard details later that highlighted the hypocrisy even more. I hadn’t returned to church, but I liked this new Pastor. He and his wife had about 4 kids, two of which were very flirty teenage girls who were about my age. I got on the edge of trouble when I let these girls drive one time, but that’s another story. There was another young man in town who took an interest in one of the daughters. They spent time together, including walks in the fields at our farm. Somehow, nature took its course, and the young lady became pregnant. There was quite an uproar in the church, and soon the Pastor and his family were sent packing.

The part of the story that I heard later was that the Pastor had a group of young people that he was preparing to be baptized. I believe it was on the evening before the baptism was to take place, that the Pastor was briefing them on how it should go. During this meeting, one of the Deacons came storming in and announced there would be no baptism. He stated that this Pastor (who had a daughter who had gotten pregnant out of wedlock) was not morally fit to baptize this group of young people.

Of course, not everyone in the church was that much of a hypocrite. I have the utmost respect for some of them and very fond memories of some who have now passed on. However some of them helped me to develop the attitude that led me to remark to my aunt and uncle (who lived across from the parsonage), that “Even God has better things to do on a Sunday than to attend that church.” My aunt got a chuckle out of that.

That church is still there. The current Pastor seems to be a fine man. Some of my close relatives and several of the home-town people that I knew and loved, attend there today.

A smothering welcome
After I graduated from the University of Maine, Sonia and I married and I started a job with the Federal Highway Administration. FHWA had a Training Program for new engineers, which involved moving around the country to varying assignments of approximately 6 months duration. While in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we joined a Southern Baptist church, and we both were baptized there. The people were nice and we liked the Pastor. Something that was important to me was that their beliefs, as expressed by the Pastor, were quite different than what I had expected a Baptist church to be. He actually said that people were encouraged to study the Bible and draw their own conclusions, with God’s help, about the finer points of what it meant. I liked that.

When it was time to move on to northern Virginia, we visited a Baptist church there. I’m sure those folks meant well, but after the service, they were all over us with their saccharin-sweet welcoming. I just wanted to get in the car and get away as soon as possible. We never went back.

Too many denominations
One of my frustrations with organized religion is that there are too many denominations, most of which seem to preach that theirs is the only path to Heaven and that all the others are going the other way. They can’t all be right. How would you tell who is right (or even close enough)?

In the last church I got much involved with, and in conversations with a good friend there, I learned that several churches in my area are now doing a better job of respecting each other, and cooperating on some things. I liked that church in many respects. Their music was well above average, too. Music is important to me. Sadly, my wife and I had an irreconcilable philosophical difference with them, so we left in 2014.

Women’s rights in the church
In the church we left, my wife had very strong objections to their policies and practices toward women. This church held to the conservative interpretation of several Bible passages regarding the role of women in the home and in the church. Women could not be pastors or hold certain offices in the church. At home, they were expected to be subservient to their husbands. I agreed that men and women should receive equal treatment by the church. I did some research and found the website of an organization called Christians for Biblical Equality. http://www.cbeinternational.org/

CBE has a document titled “Statement on Men, Women and Biblical Equality,” which can be found on their website. I read every bible reference from that statement, plus those that were given to show the church’s position. I prayed about this challenge and I had a private meeting with the Pastor. Of course, the church would not be changing its position just because of our objection. Meanwhile, I concluded that CBE had the right approach.

We have visited other churches since, but have not found one that had the right feel for me. Admittedly, we have been lazy about it lately. Another church has been recommended to me. We should check it out.

Churches can be all-consuming
One of my problems with churches, as well as some other social organizations, is that they can be all-consuming. Some churches want you to participate in their activities almost every night, twice on Sunday and often on Saturday, too. My wife and I are both somewhat introverted. We like some alone time, whether it’s alone together or alone apart. We also like the flexibility to go places and do things when the spirit so moves us. We do not like to be tied down to someone else’s schedule.

An inquiring mind/Skepticism
I am guilty of the sin that was the message of the Adam and Eve story. I have often tried to reason out for myself what is right and what is wrong, instead of relying on God to tell me. Therefore, I have eaten the fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.”

Over the last few years, I have read perhaps 20 books on religious topics such as, whether the Bible can be trusted, was Jesus really God, whether God is real, what did Jesus really say, the “lost gospels,” etc. Some of these books are stored away in boxes in my garage attic, some are among the clutter in my home office, and several are in electronic form in my Kindle. I have also read most of the New Testament (some books multiple times) and parts of the Old Testament.

I guess you could say I have an inquiring mind. I don’t accept something as my belief just because somebody says so, because I read it in a book, or even just because the Bible says so. For me to accept and believe something, it has to make sense to me and “feel right” to me.

My inquiring mind has also led me to be somewhat of a skeptic. I even went through a period where I doubted that God existed at all. I felt that the Bible was not reliable because of so many translations and interpretations. Gradually, I came back to believing in God, but I’m not a Fundamentalist and I do not take a literal approach to my understanding of the Bible.

Not aggressive
I have a rather laid-back and non-aggressive personality. I don’t like to be pushed and I don’t like to push others. I do not have the makings of an evangelist. Perhaps my best effort at fulfilling the “great commission” will be the act of writing and publishing these articles on the internet. If they are seen by a few folks, and actually help some of them to get closer to God, I will have done something toward spreading the Gospel.

I am part of the problem
As much as I hate to, I have to admit that I have created some my own obstacles to a closer relationship with God, and with a church. To some degree, I am selfish, independent, stubborn, lazy and anti-social. While I try to be a good person, I know that I fall short in many areas. God ought to just reject me unless I come around, right? Well, it doesn’t quite work that way. God hasn’t given up on me. He keeps calling. I have accepted His invitation, but I need His continual guidance to stay on the path. Sometimes I take a few steps off from it, and He must call me back again.

How do I deal with all these obstacles?
Over time, I have learned a few things that put me in a better position to deal with the obstacles I have pointed out.

In the past, I have let a few hypocrites and holier-than-thou church people poison my mind. I now understand that these folks do not represent the whole church. Some of what I see as holier-than-thou types really mean well and don’t realize they come across that way. None of us are perfect and we can’t expect church people to be perfect either. We shouldn’t even expect Pastors (and their families) to be perfect.

You should try to select a church carefully, from among those in your area. In my case, I would lean toward one that encourages individuals to grow and develop their own beliefs, within the overall framework of the church. They should be accepting and tolerant of other churches that share the same basic core beliefs, but may differ in the details.

We should try to welcome others, but not overwhelm them.

The women’s rights issue is one of several where there is conflict between some churches’ traditional biblical interpretations and the views now held by the general public. Perhaps gentle urging from within, using materials provided by organizations such as CBE, can help a church to adapt where that makes sense for them. You can’t expect change to happen all at once, perhaps not even in your lifetime. As in politics, there are circumstances where one might overlook a disagreement on one issue if there is agreement on the majority of issues.

A couple, or a family, has to be in control of their own schedule. It’s OK to say “no” to some of the well-intended invitations and urgings to attend all of the church’s events. Some may not agree, but I believe it’s even OK to do other things besides church. You have to find the balance that’s right for you.

While it may have made my journey more difficult, I believe that it is OK to have an inquiring and skeptical mind. When I do accept a belief, I hold it quite firmly, because I have tested it. With age, I have developed a sense for which things I can accept easily and which things I need to test more.

One of my good friends played a large part in helping me to come back to the Lord and to renew my beliefs. He was not pushy about it. If someone reads these articles, who has encountered a similar series of obstacles to mine, I hope my writings help them through. If I can help just one person, it will be worth the effort. If I can help two or three, or more, all the better!

Now, we get to the last obstacle, me. Perhaps that is the most difficult one. I am a long, long way from being perfected, but I have grown and made progress in my journey towards the Lord. I hope to continue to do so.

May God Bless you, Guide you and Protect you along your way!

Who (or What) is God? – Part II

Speculating on what God is like

If you are new to this blog, Welcome. You may want to start reading the series of articles at the beginning, or pick an article from the Table of Contents.

In Part I, we established that God exists. This part depends on the existence of God to make any sense. If you, dear reader, have not read Part I, I suggest that you go back and read it before completing Part II. If you have read Part I and are still not ready to accept that God exists (even for the sake of our discussion), then I may not be able to do as much for you.

What is God like?
For my part, this article is much more speculative than Part I. Let me say right up front that I do not claim to know exactly what God is like. I know, and have experienced, God in bits and pieces. In other words, I have seen glimpses of God. You have, too, even if you don’t realize it. So, I will attempt to impart some of my bits of knowledge (or opinion, if you insist), and leave it to other authors to add their bits to your total understanding. By the way, some of the other authors you should consult wrote a long time ago – Biblical times, even. If you or I study for the rest of our lives (as some have), we will likely not reach a full and complete understanding of God. The mystery of God is that vast and complex!

God is Love
Certainly, you have heard this saying before. To love is to have care and concern for someone (or something) more than you care for yourself. It is putting the other first. Many of us are awkward, or too often neglectful, in expressing our love, but most of us do love someone or something in our own imperfect way. Think about love perfected and you start to get an idea of God’s love for us – all of us – even you!

God is Truth
I love truth. I seek truth. The recent election process, and its aftermath, has my stomach churning because there is so much untruth from all sides. God will never lie to us! When you have an inner voice that tells you what is right and what is wrong, listen to it! Some may say that is your conscience. OK, but I believe it is more than that. It is God speaking!

In order to develop a conscience, and a good inner sense of right and wrong, you have to learn some of the moral truths that God wants us to know. Hopefully, your parents instilled a lot of this in you during your upbringing. Unfortunately, too many parents in today’s society don’t know enough of these truths or don’t care enough to teach them. The schools are becoming less and less dependable as a source of moral truths as well. The more you learn and know of God, the better your understanding of moral concepts. They go hand-in-hand.

God is everywhere, all at one time and always
How can this be? We mortals are familiar with 3 spatial dimensions, plus a 4th dimension that we call time. Our movements and our presence are constrained by them. We can only be in one physical place at any given time. God is not so limited.

It is hard for us to get our minds around this concept, but there well may be other dimensions in God’s total universe than the 4 we are familiar with. Another way to look at it is that God may have other ways of negotiating through space and time, which we do not have the capacity to understand. The universe that God knows is likely to be much bigger than ours.

If you can accept the concepts that I have just hinted at, your mind might be able to deal with the idea that God was hanging around somewhere in His vast universe when He designed and built that huge firecracker that the secular folks call the “Big Bang”. I always thought the the Big Bang theory needed an explanation of what was there before, and who set it off.

Seriously, those who say that science and religion are mutually exclusive just don’t know what they are talking about.  Science explains the details of the mechanisms, but is God who designed those mechanisms and put them in place!

God is the Creator
Maybe I should have listed this one first. The more you learn about the marvels and beauty of nature, the structure of molecules and atoms (and the particles and forces that they are made of), the discoveries in astronomy (check out some of the photos made with the Hubble telescope), etc., the more you begin to understand that there is NO WAY that this all resulted from a series of random accidents and mutations. There HAD TO BE an intelligent designer responsible for it all. That intelligence was far greater than we humans possess. That intelligence was God.

God is Mercy and Grace
This one is an extension of “God is Love.” Not one of us humans is perfect. We would have no hope of meeting God’s standards, and being adopted into His family, if it were not for His Grace. The Christian churches have this as a centerpiece of their philosophy. They have the topic well covered, but I’ll give my own particular slant on it in a future article. I hope to point out some aspects of God’s grace that you hadn’t though about.

God wears glasses, smokes a cigar, and looks like George Burns
OK, I threw that one in to see if you were still awake. However, it has more relevance than you might think. Some of you younger readers might not even know who George Burns was. He was one of the best of many great comedians who have passed on during my lifetime.

Oh, God! is a 1977 American comedy film starring George Burns and John Denver. It may be a comedy, but it has a lot of truth in it. If you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to watch. If you have seen it years ago, you ought to watch it again. I think I’ll do that this very afternoon!

God is a Spirit Being
We have spirits (souls) as well. However there is much more to the Spirit of God than to our meager souls. Some of us have bits and pieces of knowledge about this. I don’t have much of this knowledge, but I believe that God’s Spirit does some kind of meld with our soul and becomes part of us. This is how I (and others) can truthfully say “He lives within my heart.” (Heart, in this context means approximately the same as soul or spirit.)

Now, here is a mind-blower! Not only is God part of us, we are part of Him! Consider the following quote from Jesus:

“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:13-16 ESV)

When I first read and really understood this passage a couple of years ago, I was awe-struck. I shared it with my wife (who has more religious background than me) and she acted as if it were no big deal. It’s a big deal to me! I am part of God??!!! Awesome!!!!!

I have only scratched the surface of describing what God is like. Do you have some thoughts on the matter? Do you have something to contribute that I may have missed? Leave a comment below. I would love to read it!