For many years I've listened to what others believe, and never had come to any real deep convictions about what I personally thought and believed. In fact, I was trapped in the land of "What will other people think" for much of my life. That kept me trom reaching outside of the "norm" and also kept me from thinking deeply about anything or saying anything about what was inside me. I was too concerned about being accepted. And yet, even with that, I never felt accepted. for much of my life I've felt like an outsider, never really fitting in, wanting to be accepted, but never feeling accepted. However, over the last 20 plus years I have went through some intense trials and had to rethink much of what I thought that I believed.
I have done a lot of deep soul searching, thinking, writing, wrestling with difficult concepts, researching, looking up word meanings, etc. I'm tired of just hearing what others think or believe. It takes a lot of effort and deep inner work to really struggle out what one truly thinks or believes about the important things of life. I've ignored it or put it asside for much of my life. I'm glad, and extremely blessed, to finally be on the journey. In one sense I don't care any more what religious people think or believe any more. I just want to know what is real and true. I want to have an answer when people question me about the deep things of life, even if the answer is simply, "I don't know."1
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." 1 Peter 3:15
The Bible talks about "joy in sorrow". Now I have a better understanding of what that means. Some of my most meaningful times have been when I've had such a deep sorrow that wanted to just overwhelm me, while at the same time I had such a deep and abiding joy. Those were the times when I felt the presence of God more deeply that at any other times.
Building the Live-Anew website has been such a blessing to me as it has allowed me to put the fragmented pieces of my thoughts and beliefs together in a way that makes sense to me. There are still a lot of unfinished pages scattered throughout the website. That speaks of this being a process. Some pages may eventually be more or less finished. some pages may never get finished, and that is OK.
This website is devoted to learning how to discover that which is true, reliable and honorable. Much has been preached about "the Bible" and about religion, Christianity, and Jesus that just isn't true. However, many people don't take the time or the effort to think about the implecations of what they think that they believe.
“You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him discover it within himself.” Galileo
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us." 1 John 1:1-3a
More important than finding the "Truth" is learning how to think, explore .... and to discover for oneself what is real and true. Too much of the trouble that comes upon people is the result of people just accepting (without any evaluation) what other people say. It is a lot of hard work to think out what is really true. It is a lot easier to just "believe whatever the preacher says".
It is important to know what you believe, because it affects so many of your decisions in life. For instance, what we believe about heaven, hell, and salvation, governs much of our purpose in life. When we believe that hell is a very real place, created by God to punish wrong-doers forever, that belief system sets up a very subtle "better than them" mentality. "We", the saved, focus on trying to get others to be "saved" (to believe like us).
When we believe that we have to preach to people to try to save them from hell, then that affects how we relate to people. Many people go to great lengths to try to "convert" people before they die. When that is the focus, it is so easy to neglect the physical and emotional needs of the dying person while he is still alive.
Although I was raised as a "non-denominational Christian" I no longer go by that. I don't know what to call myself anymore. In some ways, at least at this point, I think labels are too confining and restrictive. One main trouble with following a particular religion (i.e. Christianity) is that people get caught up in either trying to defend that religion, to prove that specific religion right, or trying to convert people to that religion. In the process the basic premise of the religion (loving and serving others, and living an honorable life) gets lost. We need to get our minds off of trying to "convert" others (to our belief system) and just learn to love and serve them.
Instead I try to live by doing what is right, being kind and considerate, treating others as I want to be treated. As Mahatma Gandhi said "Be the change that you want to see." Rather than trying to follow a particular religion, instead I try to live my life by the principles that are (or should be) common to all religions and all responsible patterns of living (Virtues, ethics, etc.)