Maybe, All You Really Need Is Love

Maybe, All You Really Need Is Love

An article in which I discuss the topic of faith and organized religion and just how strange it is.

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Faith is so weird.

I am incapable of speaking for everyone but being raised in the Bible Belt, spending my elementary education in a Catholic school, growing up in a religious home, and spending every summer since third grade at a church camp, I can say that it's hard to think sometimes. My parents are very respectful of other religions, and I know they will read this so know that this is not a complaint, but it was just naturally assumed that I would be Episcopalian too. It was never forced down my throat or shoved into my life, it's just the way the world works. Obviously, there are reasons not to believe and reasons to believe and I really don't know the answer or if God is real but I know that love is real. The idea of organized religion has always bothered me. Everyone is given a set of instructions to follow and it is expected of them to follow. Go to church on Sunday. Go to the Synagogue on Saturday. Do not eat food that was not given to you. Suffering exists, to get rid of if you must get rid of attachment. There are stories upon stories, teachings and scriptures that people take too seriously in my opinion. I've never read the Bible from start to finish. I plan on it, one day, but I don't think it holds any sort of answer. It was a book written by a bunch of men back 2000 years ago. The book has been used to explain why we should have slaves, why we shouldn't allow gays, and where a woman's place should be. So no, I don't believe we should follow the Bible. Especially the Torah. I mean G-d was actually pretty brutal. G-d will make a flood one day to kill off most of the earth then help Abraham and Sarah have a kid only to tell Abraham to go kill Isaac. Not to mention the series of plagues G-d inflicted on the Egyptians for enslaving the Jewish people.

There's a line in one of Madeleine L'Engle's books, "A House Like a Lotus", where the character Max is philosophizing the world with the narrator, Polly O'Keefe. Max goes off into a monologue in which she states, "If we kept God and got rid of religion, the world would be a much better place." To me, this makes sense. In my comparative religions class, my professor started off the semester with the statement, "Humans are inherently religious" then let the class discuss. The thing is, religion has gained a negative condonation, and rightfully so. People aren't inherently religious. While we do strive for structure and meaning, everybody is different. You can't file humanity between only two titles, we're too broad for that. Madeleine L'Engle was a big-time Episcopalian, and it wasn't until I started collecting her books did I find more meaning into the thought of religion. Her thought of keeping God, to me, is keeping love. It isn't the set plans or rules that we need to follow, it's what you are supposed to learn, and that's just love.

I call myself Episcopalian, mostly because of my environment. My involvement with the Episcopal diocese is without a doubt the best thing to have ever happened to me. It's not because I had gone to some church camp where I found God and read the bible ten times a day, though I definitely still do go to church camp. It's because of the people I met through it. I consider myself religious by association because I spend weekends and summers at these Episcopal events and because I find beauty in Compline and the songs we sing. Maybe that's all we need. Maybe all we need in life is to spend weekends with friends, spend summers serving a bunch of elementary school kids and friends with diverse-abilities. There is a beauty of the collection of voices with nothing but the strumming of a guitar at night, when everything is silent but full. Maybe, all you really need is love to succeed in the world.

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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5 Facts About Spiritual Gifts That You Need To Know

Different gifts, but from the same Spirit

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1 Corinthians 12:4-5 states; "[4] There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. [5] There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord." We see that there are multiple spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Lord.

1. We all have different gifts and that's okay

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Just like a body has different parts that each has its own function, that's like the body of Christ. We all have different gifts and different purposes, but we're all part of the body of Christ. God has a plan for you and has given you certain gifts. God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the calling.

2. There are various spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible

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Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4 are some of the bible passages that talk about spiritual gifts. Giving, leadership, mercy, prophecy, service, tongue interpretation, administration, discernment, hospitality, missionary, and evangelism are some of the spiritual gifts that people can have. We can desire any gift, but it's God's choice on what gifts He gives us.

Remember, everyone can receive speaking in tongues via baptism in the Holy Spirit, but not everyone will get the gift of tongue interpretation.

3. Spiritual Gifts are supernatural abilities that are either given or enhanced via the Holy Spirit

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God gave us these Spiritual gifts because God wants to invest in His church.

4. Spiritual gifts are for strengthening others

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We have spiritual gifts in order to help others.

5. It does take time for gifts to mature and develop

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Like with a skill that you have, it does take time for you to own said skill. You put in the work, and because of that, you grow in your skill, and you get better. That's the same way with your gifts. God gives each of us certain gifts to use, and it will take time to mature those gifts.

Spiritual gifts are important.

In Romans 12:6 states; "[6] We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; [7] if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; [8] if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully."

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