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Amjad  
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Amjad Replybullet Posted: 28 July 2010 at 5:06am
Sister Searching,

I am really very happy that you are sharing us all your feelings and concerns.

Let me first explain to you a fundamental difference between Islam and other religions.

Islam is not for spiritual practices and rituals only. Islam is a way of living. Islam is a complete and comprehensive system that affects every aspect of Muslims's life.

Islam teaches us how to worship Allah and be spiritual.

Islam teaches us how to sell and buy.

Islam teaches us how to deal with each others.

Islam teaches us how to dress and how to walk in the street.

Islam teaches us how to drive our cars and respect driving signs and traffic lights (according to all the scholars, violating driving rules is Haram).

Islam teaches us how to deal with our neighbors, with our relatives, with our employer, and even with our rulers.

Islam teaches us how to marry and how to divorce.

Islam teaches us how to be clean and organized.

Islam teaches us how to keep our bodies strong and preserve its fitness.

Islam teaches us how to be productive and how to do our work diligently.

Therefore, all the rituals in Islam aren't for spiritual purposes only. They are all intended to help Muslim live a better life. Let me give you an example:

Prayer: in addition to its spiritual benefit, it's a way to improve humans life:
1- It helps Muslim be constantly aware of Allah and hence not committing sins (all the sins including violating red light or speed limit while driving!)

2- Prayer helps the Muslim manage his time efficiently. Prayer times make the Muslim sense time passage be always aware of time. Most of the Muslims use prayer times as deadlines for their daily tasks.

3- Prayers makes the Muslim be both clean (washing up before the prayer) and active (the movements done in the prayer). Every day when Dhuhr time comes, I really feel like I need to wash my face and move my body to get myself refreshed. I find prayer the best thing for this.

4- Fajr prayer is the most important in a Muslims life. It helps him keep healthy, active, and productive. A Muslim usually goes to bed early and wakes up early in the morning. It's proven that the Fajr time is the best for human activity since the ration of O3 is the largest in the air at that part of the day. When I try to do some work after Fajir Prayer, my productivity is probably 5 times if I do the same work later in the day. "Early to bed early to rise, makes man healthy wealthy and wise."


Of course no one can be perfect. Allah wants us to do our best. In Islam, everything good you do in your life is a form of worship. When you stop on the red light you please Allah and will be rewarded. When you play sports and take care of your body, you please Allah and will be rewarded. When you preserve your beauty to please your husband, you please Allah and will be rewarded. And even when a husband and his wife have sex, they please Allah and will be rewarded.

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Amjad  
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Amjad Replybullet Posted: 28 July 2010 at 6:03am
Originally posted by searching

Thank you for your answer, Stranger. I just think that even the five pillars are hard to fulfill. Declaring our faith isn't and Zakat shouldn't be but fasting 16 hours every day for a month and praying at certain times, down to the minute would be. And on top of that, some Salah have 2 rakah and some have 4. And they all involve memorizing not just holy revelations, but revelations in Arabic.

Honestly, right now I'm leaning towards staying exactly as I am. Not attached to any religion. Free to pray to God in my own language and not through Jesus Christ (PBUH) who I don't believe is God's son anyway. Free to read the Qur'an and learn from it without feeling guilty about not following it's every command.


Can someone get a PhD degree in science by staying at home and claiming that he loves science?

To get a degree you should go to the university and spend many ours attending classes, doing assignments and projects, studying for exams, etc. If this is true for a PhD degree, wouldn't it be true for the Paradise?!


Believe me my sister Islam is so easy. Prayers are not so hard. They will take you less than 15 minutes each day and you don't have to pray in a certain precise time as you said. For each prayer you have a period of time that you can do the Prayer within. For example, here in Bay area you can pray Dhur anytime between 1:16 pm to 5:06 pm. So you have almost 4 hours. And even if you couldn't pray in this time, you are allowed to combine Dhur with Aser prayer and pray them together. The period now becomes from 1:16 pm to 8:35 pm.

Likewise, you can combine Ishaa and Maghreb.

Is it difficult for you to find 5 minutes to do the prayer within this period?

Moreover, you don't have to do the prayer in the Mosque. You can pray at home, at work, even inside your car!

If you can't stand to pray, you can pray while sitting down. You can even do the prayer while laying in the bed if you can't neither stand or sit to pray.

Also, if you can't memorize anything from Quran, you are allowed to say anything (e.g. ask Allah for his forgiveness and mercy). If you can't say it in Arabic, it's totally fine to say it in any language.

As for Fasting, keep in mind that all Muslims find the first few days of Ramadan difficult, but it becomes much easier for them after 3 or 4 days of fasting. They even feel healthier and more active than some non-Ramadan days. Even some little kids can afford fasting 16 hours after few days of training!

If you can't fast for some reason or another, you make up the days later or can pay charity instead.

Allah says in the Quran:


O ye who believe! fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that ye may (learn) self-restraint.
(Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill or on a journey the prescribed number (should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (with hardship) is a ransom the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more of his own free will it is better for him and it is better for you that ye fast if ye only knew.
Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an as a guide to mankind also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So everyone of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting but if anyone is ill or on a journey the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you. He does not want to put you to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.


In fact, you'll love fasting when you see how greatly it affects your life positively. Many Muslims like to do Voluntary fasting in days other than in Ramadan.



Sister Searching,

There is a general rule in Islam that we learn from Quran. Allah says:

Allah tasketh not a soul beyond its scope.

And says:

Allah intends every facility for you. He does not want to put you to difficulties.

So you aren't supposed to do things that you can't afford.

In fact, our prophet Mohammed says that Allah will indeed be pleased when someone takes advantage of the facilities of his religion (when she needs it) exactly as He is pleased when someone does more good deeds.

Don't worry my sister. Islam is really easy.
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Amjad  
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Amjad Replybullet Posted: 28 July 2010 at 6:51am
Sister Searching,

In the authenticated Hadith that is reported in Sahih Muslim: a man came to the prophet Mohammed PBUH and said:"If I pray only the five obligatory prayers, fast Ramadan, do what is Halal and avoid what is Haram, and don't do anything more than this, will I be among those who enter paradise". Prophet Mohammed replied: "Yes". So, the man said: By Allah (I swear), I will not do more than this.

I'll help you make a decision:

1- Do you believe in God?

2- Do you believe that Allah is the only God?

3- Do you believe that Mohammed is his messenger?

4- Do you believe Jesus is a human and he is the messenger of Allah?

5- Do you believe that Quran is the words of Allah?

6- Do you believe in the hereafter?

7- Can you wake up in the morning anytime before sunrise (around 6:00 am) and spend 3 minutes to pray Fajr prayer? If this is hard for you, can you pray Fajr any time before noon?

8- Can you find <5 minutes each day to pray Dhur anytime afternoon?

9- Can you find <5 minutes each day to pray Aser anytime before sunset?

11- Can you find <5 minutes each day to pray Maghrib anytime within an hour after sunset?

12- Can you find <5 minutes each day to pray Ishaa anytime starting one hour after sunset and until one hour before sunrise next day?

13- Are you willing to fast of Ramadan as much as you can?

14- Can you avoid major Harams (drinking alcohol, adultery, killing someone, killing yourself, etc)?

15- Can you pay Zakah (2.5% of your savings that stayed with you for at least one year)?

If your answers to these questions are "Yes"s, then you are ready to be a very good Muslim!

Actually, if you really do these things, you will be better than many many born-Muslims!

Edited by Amjad - 28 July 2010 at 9:23pm
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freedom-lover
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote freedom-lover Replybullet Posted: 28 July 2010 at 10:12am
Originally posted by searching

I really wish Islam wasn't so complicated. I wish it was just the belief in only one God, believing Muhammad (PBUH) was his last messenger and Qur'an being the word of God. I wish it didn't involve such precise, down to the minute prayer times and entering one place with the left and exiting with the right and the opposite for other places.

There are prayers to remember for exiting and entering different places and other things like fasting or breaking fast. It just seems like anything one does has some rule or prayer attached to it. It seems like it would greatly complicate my life.

Even fasting is so hard. I only made it 9 hours. My Muslim friend makes it 16+ hours and runs several miles at the end of the day, too. I could never do that. I really think I haven't converted because I'm so worried about not being able to keep up with all the demands of Islam. There was a book in an Islamic bookstore called "Islam, Religion of Ease." I almost bought it but I don't have much money so I didn't. I have to say though, it almost sounds like an oxymoron...lol. Maybe next paycheck I'll try to buy it. I wish I wasn't so worried. I wish I could just make a decision.
 
 
 

Hi searching

 

Thanks for your comment. As I read your posts, immediately I can see you struggling with numerous religious rituals and getting enslaved by them. That is not what we were borne for. We were created to be loved by God, not to perform religious duties and rituals to take away Godís anger against you. God is not angry with you. Instead He loves you with all His soul, with all His heart, with all His mind and with all His strength. Because "God is love" (1 John 4:16).

 

Now let us look at what you and Muslims are doing. Their religious leaders obligated prayer so that they "must" pray only at certain times a day, and only to certain direction, and only in certain ways. It becomes a mandatory requirement to avoid the punishment of hell fire from their God. Other ways of doing rituals do not count. Here is the fundamental difference between Muslims and Christians. To them prayer is their duty. If they miss it, they are guilty and afraid of the punishment. But to us it is our joy, not duty. If we miss it, there is no problem. We are still joyful because of Godís everlasting love for us that was shown most explicitly through the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ on the cross. Instead of being picky and impatient, our God is very gracious and patient that He is not angry or offended by missing of our prayer from time to time. Even if we forget our prayer for the whole month, our God is still not angry or offended, but instead grieved and starts to miss us. Of course we also start to miss our Creator. Now do you see the fundamental difference between Muslims and Christians?

 



Edited by freedom-lover - 28 July 2010 at 10:21am
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote shamstar Replybullet Posted: 28 July 2010 at 11:58am
Originally posted by freedom-lover

 
 

Hi searching

 

Thanks for your comment. As I read your posts, immediately I can see you struggling with numerous religious rituals and getting enslaved by them. That is not what we were borne for. We were created to be loved by God, not to perform religious duties and rituals to take away Godís anger against you. God is not angry with you. Instead He loves you with all His soul, with all His heart, with all His mind and with all His strength. Because "God is love" (1 John 4:16).

 

Now let us look at what you and Muslims are doing. Their religious leaders obligated prayer so that they "must" pray only at certain times a day, and only to certain direction, and only in certain ways. It becomes a mandatory requirement to avoid the punishment of hell fire from their God. Other ways of doing rituals do not count. Here is the fundamental difference between Muslims and Christians. To them prayer is their duty. If they miss it, they are guilty and afraid of the punishment. But to us it is our joy, not duty. If we miss it, there is no problem. We are still joyful because of Godís everlasting love for us that was shown most explicitly through the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ on the cross. Instead of being picky and impatient, our God is very gracious and patient that He is not angry or offended by missing of our prayer from time to time. Even if we forget our prayer for the whole month, our God is still not angry or offended, but instead grieved and starts to miss us. Of course we also start to miss our Creator. Now do you see the fundamental difference between Muslims and Christians?

 



Still waiting for you to fully answer the questions I asked of you on the other thread.

Why did Jesus in the Old Testament instruct people to pray, fast and observe other religious duties and rituals?
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Hi shamstar

 

Thanks for yet another question (Why did Jesus in the Old Testament instruct people to pray, fast and observe other religious duties and rituals?). You seem to be confused about my point. I am not saying that all rituals are wrong. Rituals can be used to draw our attention to God. As I read the writings of Muslims and searching, I am convinced that they struggle with every detail of numerous rituals and get enslaved by them.

 

Now let us look at what Muslims are doing. They must pray only at the prescribed times. Other times do count. They must face to the prescribed direction. Other directions do not count. They must bow on prescribed mats of specific design and size. Other mats do not count. They must wash certain parts of their body such as face, hands, feet, beard, and moustaches again in a certain way. Other part or other way of washing does not count. They must follow the prescribed sequence of actions and words at each ritual. Other way of doing it does not count. Furthermore, if they miss or cannot form certain rituals for whatever reason, they are guilty and afraid of dreadful punishment from their God.

 

This is what searching also wrote in her recent post. I really wish Islam wasn't so complicated. I wish it was just the belief in only one God, believing Muhammad (PBUH) was his last messenger and Qur'an being the word of God. I wish it didn't involve such precise, down to the minute prayer times and entering one place with the left and exiting with the right and the opposite for other places. There are prayers to remember for exiting and entering different places and other things like fasting or breaking fast. It just seems like anything one does has some rule or prayer attached to it. It seems like it would greatly complicate my life. Even fasting is so hard. I only made it 9 hours. My Muslim friend makes it 16+ hours and runs several miles at the end of the day, too. I could never do that. I really think I haven't converted because I'm so worried about not being able to keep up with all the demands of Islam.

 

I feel close to God. It is like an intimate (sometimes intense) loving relationship between a man and a woman. That is why I often suggest other readers this sentence: I hope you would fall in love with God so intimately and deeply that you would feel like you were the only person in the entire universe with God. Is this level of intimacy with God coming from numerous rituals I perform or have performed? No! The only thing I did was that I received Jesus Christ as my Savior, and gave my life to him as my Lord. That is all! Christianity is all about a loving relationship with the Creator. We are enslaved only by the love of God, while Muslims are enslaved by religious duties and rituals. We were created to be loved by God, not to perform religious duties and rituals to take away Godís anger against you. God is not angry with you. Instead He loves you with all His soul, with all His heart, with all His mind and with all His strength. Because "God is love" (1 John 4:16).

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote searching Replybullet Posted: 29 July 2010 at 2:33am
Brother Amjad,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write several posts for me to read.  I kind of tend to answer all of your questions, or at least most of them with "Yes" but still don't feel ready to convert.  I'm just really struggling with this.  I don't know why I feel such turmoil about this.  It doesn't seem like it should cause me stress but for some reason it is.  I know that I don't need to make a decision immediately but somehow I feel a pressure to make a decision.  Obviously, it's pressure only from myself.  No one else is pressuring me to convert or make any decision.  I guess I need to learn more patience, even with myself. 

Sometimes I feel very free, not being attached to any religion.  I posted about this before.  I don't have to worry about rituals or anything like that.  I can just talk to God and thank Him for things and ask forgiveness.  It is a truly free feeling sometimes.  But other times I feel like I'm kind of flailing, lost between the major religions out there.  Wanting to belong to something but belonging to nothing.  I don't believe the concepts of Christianity.  I really do believe the concepts of Islam more but I just can't get myself to completely embrace Islam and convert. 

I hear that during Ramadan the Shaytans are all chained up and the gates of hell are closed while at the same time, the gates to heaven are open.  Maybe then, without Shaytan potentially whispering in my ear, I will be able to make a good decision.  Until then, I will just try to pray more for guidance on this. 

Thank you to everyone for helping me.  I really appreciate the time you take to post.
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Amjad Replybullet Posted: 29 July 2010 at 3:14am
You are welcome sister Searching.

I totally understand your feelings. I believe that what you feel now is normal.

Deciding to embrace a religion is not easy. You \need to think deeply and make your decision after basing it on knowledge and true belief.

Sister Searching,

Allah created us for a purpose which is to worship Him and love Him in a way that pleases Him.

IF we do this in this life, we will enter paradise in the hereafter, or the hell fire otherwise.

We can't know what pleases Allah if He doesn't tell us. Allah (SWT) sent the messengers (e.g. Adam, Abraham, Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, .. ) to teach us how to worship Allah and please him.

Mohammed is the last messenger and his message and teachings are last that was sent down from Allah to all the mankind.

This life is nothing but a test. Allah wants to see who will adhere to his message and worship Him in the way He prescribed.

If you really love Allah and want to please him, you should worship him as He wants you worship Him.

Think of the university degree I mentioned in a previous post.


My Sister,

No rush. Take your time. Learn more about Islam. Try to meet more Muslims and talk with about Islam.

May Allah guide you to the right path that makes happy in this life and in the hereafter.
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote freedom-lover Replybullet Posted: 29 July 2010 at 10:04am

Hi readers

 

Recently I start to hear more about fasting from Muslims as their Ramadan is approaching. I am not saying that all your fasting and rituals are wrong. But if your heart is not circumcised, all your fasting and rituals are only a mechanical movement. Whether the fasting is one month, or one year or even ten years long, God does not listen to you if your heart is not circumcised. What is circumcision of the heart? First of all what is circumcision? Circumcision is removing the foreskin of a penis. The foreskin is an obstacle that blocks the seed of a sperm from reaching an egg. Thus removing the foreskin allows the seed to flow freely to the egg, producing a new life. If the egg does not meet the seed, it dies and gets out of the body as dead blood. The spiritual meaning of circumcision is that our heart needs to be open to the seed of the Word (Jesus Christ) so that it reaches the egg of our soul in our heart, producing a new creation. If our soul does not meet the Word, it is separated from God and dies eternally. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17) This is called the circumcision of the heart, which is the spiritual meaning of circumcision. Interestingly though, the concept of being circumcised in the heart is not a new idea. In fact it has been an important consideration under the Old Covenant since the book of Deuteronomy. Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. (Deuteronomy 10:16) The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. (Deuteronomy 30:6) Without circumcision of the heart, the circumcision of flesh (real body) is nothing and meaningless. Without circumcision of the heart, all your fasting and rituals are only a mechanical movement. I also say the same thing to some ďreligiousĒ Christians to tell them what is really important. I hope your heart would be circumcised by receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.



Edited by freedom-lover - 29 July 2010 at 11:03am
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Originally posted by freedom-lover

Hi readers

 

Recently I start to hear more about fasting from Muslims as their Ramadan is approaching. I am not saying that all your fasting and rituals are wrong. But if your heart is not circumcised, all your fasting and rituals are only a mechanical movement. Whether the fasting is one month, or one year or even ten years long, God does not listen to you if your heart is not circumcised. What is circumcision of the heart? First of all what is circumcision? Circumcision is removing the foreskin of a penis. The foreskin is an obstacle that blocks the seed of a sperm from reaching an egg. Thus removing the foreskin allows the seed to flow freely to the egg, producing a new life. If the egg does not meet the seed, it dies and gets out of the body as dead blood. The spiritual meaning of circumcision is that our heart needs to be open to the seed of the Word (Jesus Christ) so that it reaches the egg of our soul in our heart, producing a new creation. If our soul does not meet the Word, it is separated from God and dies eternally. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17) This is called the circumcision of the heart, which is the spiritual meaning of circumcision. Interestingly though, the concept of being circumcised in the heart is not a new idea. In fact it has been an important consideration under the Old Covenant since the book of Deuteronomy. Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. (Deuteronomy 10:16) The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. (Deuteronomy 30:6) Without circumcision of the heart, the circumcision of flesh (real body) is nothing and meaningless. Without circumcision of the heart, all your fasting and rituals are only a mechanical movement. I also say the same thing to some ďreligiousĒ Christians to tell them what is really important. I hope your heart would be circumcised by receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.

Our fasting has less to do with not eating and drinking and more to do with getting closer to our one and only creator and savior, ALLAH. we are open to the word of prophet jesus (pbuh) and that is why we are bowing down to Allah just like he did. Im Ramadan, Muslims try to think less about this world and all the worldly things and truly turn to Allah and purify our hearts and bodies. We try to open our hearts and  push ourselves to be like the beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). All our fasting and rituals are the best way to get closer to Allah and they are far more than just "mechanical movements" and im sure all the prophets would agree. Our hearts are circumcised and if you tried fasting, maybe you would see.

Edited by stranger - 30 July 2010 at 1:45am
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I have actually learned a fair amount about Ramadan from my classes at masjid.  I don't know as much as muslims know, of course, but I've learned about the importance of fasting with your heart, hands, legs, eyes, ears, etc.  And that if we do things like back biting and gossiping, we may as well not fast at all. 

Of course, I haven't made a decision yet so Ramadan may not even be relevant to me if I'm a non-Muslim, though I respect it as a religious holiday for Muslims. 
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Nura Replybullet Posted: 30 July 2010 at 8:10am
Originally posted by searching

I have actually learned a fair amount about Ramadan from my classes at masjid.  I don't know as much as muslims know, of course, but I've learned about the importance of fasting with your heart, hands, legs, eyes, ears, etc.  And that if we do things like back biting and gossiping, we may as well not fast at all. 



Sister,

there are more than one billion Muslims on the earth, and believe me, you know much more about Islam than millions of Muslims do.
There are many degrees about knowledge in Islam. I think that just a minority of Muslims know which du'a to recite for every occasion, and a very tiny minority pay attention on the foot they use to enter the bathroom (I must admit I never do).
Sadly, there are even millions of Muslims who don't pray and don't fast.
I think the knowledge you have now, the 5 prayers, fasting as you can and paying zakah would be more than enough to enter Islam.

(by the way, the only Surah you have to know in order to pray is al-Fatiha, all the rest is optional. And the prayer times mean that you have time from the beginning till the next prayer, not that you have to pray at the first minute of the prescribed time - except if you are a man and want to make every salah at the mosque with the imam, which is possible in islamic countries but not in the USA)
Spare me the political events and power struggles, as the whole earth is my homeland and all men are my fellow countrymen. K.Gibran
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote freedom-lover Replybullet Posted: 30 July 2010 at 12:22pm

Hi stranger

 
Thanks for your reply. I do not think your heart is circumcised. Have you really met the World (Jesus) to become a new creation by receiving Jesus as your Savior and Lord? Has the Holy Spirit come to your heart to live? Otherwise, still you are far from God and not the children of God.
 
Do you have confidence to see your Creator in heaven face to face? If not, it indicates that you are not a child of God. You are still separated far from the Father and Creator, the source of everything. Real children are not afraid of their father. Basically you stand before the Judge (God) like a criminal, anxiously waiting for a sentence you would receive from God. Basically you are in the court of the Judge instead of being in the house of the Father. You may have the wrong concept of fear of God. You may think that being afraid or being scared before God is the fear of God and a sign of humbleness. Then you are wrong! The true fear of God is the acute awareness of the presence of Godís great power that produces in us a sense of awe and calls forth from us reverence, honour and respect. Because I became a child of God through Jesus Christ, God is not my Judge anymore, but my Father. I am in the house of the Father instead of being in the court of the Judge. Do you see the difference now? You are in the court of the Judge as an afraid defendant anxiously waiting for a sentence from Him, while I am in the house of the Father as a loving child having an intimate fellowship with Him.

 

You were created to be loved by God, not to perform religious duties and rituals to take away Godís anger against you. God is not angry with you. He loves you with all His soul, with all His heart, with all His mind and with all His strength. Because "God is love" (1 John 4:16).

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote searching Replybullet Posted: 30 July 2010 at 4:43pm
One does not have to accept Jesus (PBUH) to be accepted by God.  God does not have a son.  Why would he decide to have a human son?  Why would He allow his own son to be killed in order to forgive us?  He can forgive whoever He chooses to forgive and would have no need to sacrifice His own son.  Christianity just doesn't make sense to me.  God is all powerful and has no need to get a human pregnant, have a son with her and then kill his own son to forgive other humans when, as I said, he can forgive whoever he chooses.  Think about it.  If you really think about it and don't just blindly accept it, it makes no sense at all.
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