Sunday, March 31, 2013

Springtime is for renewal and rebirth.

With springtime being a season of renewal, I see it is fitting that I make this announcement today on this Easter Sunday.  The news is that my two blog sites will no longer stay completely seperate, but unite in theme to support the other.  Up until now they have been seperate in voice and audience; one not mentioning the other.

Since 2008 I have considered my stories, tales and thoughts worthy of being published through either of my blog sites Mr. Gus Outdoors or Voice of Truth Ministry.  Mr. Gus originated while I was a 4-H Extension Agent for the University of Florida where I felt a blog would be the best way to share how-to's of outdoor education with colleagues and families.  Voice of Truth Ministry came about in my personal life originally as a journal when I decided I had learned enough life lessons - some the hard way, and I want to share the devine strength and hope I received with others. 
The lessons I learned through my activities in the woods and wilderness, and in life general have been a blessing from God, so why not share it?  Perhaps an outcome of the projects will bring someone else enjoyment or spare them some hardship.  In doing so, I've been blessed and hope others have too.  I've been able to hone my writing skills, leave a partial record of my beliefs and priorites for my friends and family, and meet some very nice people.  So far I have a combined readership of over 15, 000 page views, and for that I am grateful.

As always, I don't consider this to be exclusively my site.  I always welcome others who have a story to tell that is in alignment with either of my blog sites.  By in alignment I mean thoughts and ideas that promote healthy living, the love of outdoors, the importance of families, teaching children or mutual respect of others.

May God bless you all this Easter season as we celebrate the passing of winter, the flight and scurry of young critters, and especially the resurrection of our Savior.  Thank you for your support and readership.

- gus

Friday, March 29, 2013

We're now publishing Transition information.

Voice of Truth Ministry blog (this site) has now made a new Transition page, if you notice to the top right.

The intent of this page is to publish resources for individuals who need help in the form of community resources to get back on their feet.  Daily I work with people who are looking for a place to live, help with coping or opportunities for employment after being removed from the workforce for an extended length of time; transitioning or moving back into the mainstream community.

Today this list is short, but watch it grow and feel free to send me comments on additional resources.  God bless you all.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

So what is the "truth" Voice of Truth Ministry is proclaiming?

This has been bugging me for days.  How do I dare have a website that has the word "truth" in the title, implying that what I am saying is the truth, when I am so disapprovingly adamant about dogmatic know-it-alls who think their truth is better (more true) than another?  The whole My Jesus is better than your Jesus attitude.  What makes me and my site different, and I like being different, is that with the exception of my faith in Christ, the principles I support and write about I consider to be universal in nature, and relativly void of any offensiveness to the common person of nearly every faith.  Am I trying to be politically correct?  No.  I just realize some people aren't Christian believers, and I respect that.

I started this blog, Voice of Truth Ministry in February 2012 with the first post The reason this ministry got started because I couldn't contain how I felt any more. I had to express at that time the following points, and it holds true today namely:
  • No matter where we are in life, God cares about us and we are part of His plan,  
  • Even though we may be in an uncomfortable situation, perhaps even hopeless, God can be our strength and our salvation if we only reach out to Him in prayer and through His Word,
  • Don't be afraid.  The #1 most stated commandment in the Bible is "Fear Not", mentioned 27 times.  Even when we have to face our demons, God will forgive and be with us if we only ask, and finally,
  • Do the next right thing. Make good, wholesome choices that support love, peace, forgiveness, understanding, healthy living, brotherhood and family.
In knowing and doing these four things we'll be blessed beyond measure.  These are virtually the only religious/spiritual truths I know, so that's what this blog will support and encourage.

My question is, am I writing this for others or for me?  I can see now that's it's for both reasons, because my points aren't intuitive to the average Joe or Jill, and they sure haven't been to me.  Most of us aren't raised knowing God loves us and actually cares about our situations.  Sometimes we're told, but that's not enough.  This is something we must hear from others who've been there, and learn on our own, in our own time.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Are you contemplative?

Are you contemplative? Perhaps you should be.

To contemplate means to look at or view with continued attention; observe or study thoughtfully, consider thoroughly - making a quiet time for ourselves.  I've done this regularly for as long as I remember, sometimes in a positive way, sometimes not.

Recently I've been introduced to the writings of Therese Borchard who blogs Beyond Blue on Beliefnet.com.  She is also the author of Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes and The Pocket Therapist: An Emotional Survival Guide.  I absolutly love her work because her stories and humor draw me in like she's speaking only to me.

In one of her articles I just discovered, Be Still … No Really, Be Still: An Interview with Anne Simpkinson (full article), contemplation is addressed...
Therese: I just wrote a piece on vacations and came across some literature that said, as much as we talk about wanting to change our environments and chill out for a week or two, most of us are incapable of doing just that, and scared to, actually, because it creates a kind of uncomfortableness of sitting with silence and tapping the desires of our heart. Can you speak to that?

Anne: We are bombarded daily with noise, information and activity. So yes, in that environment, it’s difficult to listen deeply to our innermost selves. Quiet, contemplation and silence can make people uncomfortable because they are not used to it. And yet, silence is like a deep, refreshing well that can buoy you in difficult times, ignite your creativity, deepen your faith, give more meaning to your life.

The only thing I'd like to add is, what being still of mind can do for us spiritually.  When we consider things of life deeply, with an intent to do God's will and a desire to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, these times can be of great benefit to us and those near.  Often in my quiet times I will ask myself, What is God's will for me in this situation? or What can I do to improve myself? or Is there anything I need to make amends for or repent of? I hope you'll take the opportunity to get some quiet time, especially in regards to the meaning of Easter for you and your family this season, and how you can better fill the role God has called you to.

Final note: I would consider Trappist Monk, Thomas Merton one of our modern fathers of what contemplation is all about.  I've read some of his work, and intend to go to the library for more.

Monday, March 25, 2013

In All Things Give Praise, Doxology

When I was a sixteen year old young man standing in a non-Mormon church for the first time (which happened to be Presbyterian), I marveled at the beauty and simplicity of this song commonly known as The Doxology or The Common Doxology, written in 1674 by Thomas Ken. A doxology in general terms is a short hymn of praise to God used in various Christian worship services.  It goes...

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav'nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Amen.

Most protestant churches sing this song, but we never did in the LDS church growing up, and they still don't to my knowledge.  This little hymn has all the things I like.  It talks about the flow of blessings in our life, which I've always, always felt.  It refers to us as creatures and could also imply that the creatures of the forest and streams also give praise, and lastly gives the praise specifically to the God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.  No matter how one pictures, interpretes or imagines the triune Godhead to be, this line of the song is general enough to encompass most religions.

One final note on this is that Thomas Ken was the brother-in-law to Izaak Walton, author of The Compleat Angler, published in 1653 which is a celebration of the art and spirit of fishing in prose and verse. Can't wait to find this book!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My Spiritual Journey - The Conclusion, My Future

I am so blessed to have made it this far in life and I have so much to be thankful for. In 2005 I married Sandy, and she has faithfully stood by me even though I have given her reason not to. She knows my history, including my sins and loves me anyway. Most important though, she loves the Lord with all her heart, and does her best to follow the teachings of Christ. She loves my children like they are her own and serves her community with love and dedication. I love her so much.

I am also very grateful for my teachers, employers, siblings, extended family, my former wife Cindy, the mother of my children and her family. To anyone who loves, supports and nurtures my kids, how could I not be thankful?

What the Lord has planned for my future, I have no idea. As it unfolds I will continue to love and support my family and serve my community, seeking guidance from above. Thank you Father for leading me to this point, and let my life be one of showing gratitude to You for the sacrifice of Your Son and the blessings we’ve been given. Help me to be faithful.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Christianity and Alcoholics Anonymous

A few days ago I had a discussion with a fellow believer about their desire to be sober, and that how Alcoholics Anonymous wasn't a good option for them because it wasn't Christian enough.  The person said they only mentioned God in a vague sense, mostly referring to Him as a Higher Power.  Which is correct in my experience.  That saddened me to hear because when I first went to AA back in 2000 my faith in God was weak, and AA strengthened it.

If AA were any more "Christian" than it is now, there would be more feelings like this, that I found in a recovery forum written in 2009 - Are non-Christians really accepted at AA meetings? Are they welcome? I've heard there is such an importance placed on God at these meetings and I don't really believe in God. I'm 3 days sober and desperate to keep my sobriety...I'm ready to stop and do whatever it takes...I want to go to AA meetings to meet others like me but I'm just not sure if it will work because I'm not Christian and don't really believe in a God.

In the AA Preamble, which is read at every meeting it states, "A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety."

To the Christian wishing a more godly program, I have experienced individuals talking about how their Higher Power was Jesus Christ, with humility and confidence.

In my experience, Alcoholics Anonymous has the perfect level of spirituality in that it welcomes believers, and drives home the point to the non-believers that we cannot achieve sobriety by ourselves, but only with the help of a power greater than us.  There is such a power!  The program molds the alcoholic from the self-centered to the selfless, the "taker" to the giver, the antisocial to the prosocial while giving hope. I even recall some of my own ah-ha moments when I realized there were others more important than me and I needed to change.  About then was when I was able to recall what I had learned about God from my past, blend the teachings of the Bible with those of AA program, and have a Savior there waiting for me to offer forgiveness and grace.  It is a program that works, for those of any faith or lack thereof when they come in.

Other Links: AA Grapevine

If you have an opinion on this, I'd love to hear your comments.  Are you a blogger or wanna-be writer?  I'd love to share your uplifting story on any type of recovery here.  Just send me a comment to this post.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Not Your Typical Church Lady’s Bean Dip

Once in a while I have to stray away from outdoor topics when I have something significant to share.  This is one of those times.

I love any food Mexican, including bean dip. A few weeks ago I searched and scoured the web for a perfect seven layer bean dip, and hardly found one, much less a good one. So when the opportunity came up to provide a side dish at work, I decided to take it on as a challenge to create my own, with all the ingredients I like, but with a kick - like I like it. Here it is...

I call it Papa Gus' Not For The Faint of Heart, Seven Layer Frijoles Bonanza aka Not Your Typical Church Lady’s Bean Dip.  This recipe title is so long, it even has a comma!


Ingredients
1 16 ounce can traditional Refried Beans
1 packet Taco Seasoning
1 16 ounce tub Sour Cream
1 8 ounce can drained Original Rotel
1 8 ounce bunch fresh Cilantro
1 8 ounce pack of shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 medium Jalapeno

Here's how it goes...In a large bowl thoroughly blend the beans, taco seasoning and one-half to three-quarters of a cup of sour cream until its creamy and smooth like soft butter. Scrape the sides so as to get everything in and mixed well. Spread the bean mix in the pan, evenly layer on the drained Rotel, layer the remaining sour cream. Cover with most or all of the grated cheese depending on taste and looks, garnish with a light topping of chopped cilantro, then add sliced jalapeno disks cut slightly more than paper thin, seeds and all. You could garnish with firm chopped Roma tomatoes, but then that would be eight layers now, wouldn't it??  Feel free to raise or lower the heat by using hot or mild Rotel.  Cover with a lid, foil or plastic wrap, chill for a couple hours and serve with corn chips.

Hardware
Mixing bowl and hand mixer or a Kitchen-Aid type mixer
9x13 inch pan
Spatula and large spoons
Pan covering
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Ideal time until serving: overnight or 2 hours to marry flavors.
Servings: Enough for a medium size group get-together or a family of four for 2 to 3 days.

Estimated Nutrition summary: Serving Size 1/2 Cup, Calories 95, Fat 7 g, Carbs 23g, Protein 8g.

Preliminary Evaluation - At the end of the lunch break the platter was clean, and that's a good sign.  Personally I prefer to take the heat up a notch, but not for the general population of folk in my area.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Spiritual Journey - Compass Alignments, Part 8

A compass is a navigational instrument that measures directions in a frame of reference that is stationary relative to the surface of the earth - but you knew that! Just as an explorer needs to check their bearing now and again, so do we. Things in life (other than God) that have kept me pointed in the right direction, with the greatest positive influence include the shared love of my family, music, service to others, children, interaction with people who have a bright, positive outlook on life, the outdoors and well behaved dogs. Conversely things that have caused my metaphorical compass to point me south include over indulgences of any kind, hints of immorality, thoughts of power, illusions of pride, inflated egos, and people who claim to be absolutely right about abstract concepts and matters of faith.

Our Father in Heaven is still shaping each of us, whether we accept it or not. The sooner we realize this; our life will become easier or at least more tolerable. For example, my temper will always flare if someone tells me their Jesus is better than someone else’s Jesus or when someone shows disrespect. In these shaping moments God has just put me in, I need to realign and realize that if I continue to be angry and judge, I will end up becoming like the older brother in the Prodigal Son story (Luke 15:28). I will, and experience has shown I have, meander away from the Lord and things will only become worse. This has been one of my most repeating life lessons.

Other significant alignments have come to me while in quiet time with God. I have frequently found peace in any building or place of worship and sometimes have created my own at a picnic table. When I take a drive in the car or walk down the road with my thoughts directly in prayer; that can help me beyond measure. I am finding more peace and wisdom in the Scriptures than ever before. At important times I have even heard God speak to me while I was praying. These times have been seldom, but none the less significant and real.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Enjoying the urban wilderness.

Working now in Orlando for the prison system puts me in the woods far less than my previous job as a 4-H Agent involved with youth shooting sports, but I'm hanging in there.  Do you know the saying, "You can take the boy out of the woods, but not the woods out of the boy."?  Well that's me, even if that saying goes completely different.

I started enjoying nature as a six year kid in old Fort Worth, Texas catching craw-dads in Mary's Creek by my house.  As a teen I worked and went to Scout camp for six summers in a row, and as a young man attended the BYU 30 day outdoor survival class now owned by B.O.S.S.  The woods, everything about the outdoors, and even the color camo brings me peace and comfort.  Can anyone who reads this relate?

Every day I look forward to going to work, not only for the challenges with my students but for the ride alone.  Driving to and from work along the Beachline Expressway, down four lanes of concrete I constantly spot wildlife and it makes my day.  Yesterday a raccoon blocked my walk way as I left the compound, driving home I spotted about 30 turkey, with one tough young Jake (young wild turkey) strutting his stuff, five miles later I saw a mama eagle sharing a fish with her two babies along the Saint John's River.  What a day!

I hope you have opportunity to enjoy nature and "the woods" in your area where ever you live, and if you're lucky enough to live in the country, count your luck stars and know that your envied by some, but have some kindred spirits among the rest of us.

Got a story to tell?  I'd love to hear them and see your pictures!  Comment below or send them to Mr. Gus via this email roundball@ymail.com.  I'll post them below in the comment section.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Finding Youself, Finding Balance

More and more often I am having these magical days, such as today where I meet inspiring people and learn inspiring thoughts through sound and imagery.  This is completely because I am learning to let go of fear and preconceived thoughts of how I should act and what I should say and do.  I am learning to follow my heart and emulate others who do the same.

In my transition class today I taught about wellness, and what it takes to be of healthy mind and body.  We spoke of balance and how sometimes our lives get out of kilter, which literally means out of good health or condition1. We spoke of keeping things in perspective and not putting too much time or energy into any one thing, or keeping family, love and other important values higher on the priority list than things that just won't matter in the long term.  As a matter of fact, I was going to write more about this but my ideas took a turn when I met Nelson.

Nelson Guda, who's images I've use here, is a photographer, artist and author from Ohio who travels the globe in pursuit of his art.  As PhD Biologist he could be doing many different things, but if you see some of his work such as the Sensual Rainforest you may see the influence of living systems and how they have impacted his artistry.  I am looking forward to his newest work, The Enemies Project and how he captures conflict and examines the many sides of this issue.

May God bless us all to truly discover the gifts within, our true selves and use them to the benefit of our brothers and sisters.

Monday, March 11, 2013

My Spiritual Journey - My Children, Part 7

To all my children, step-children and grandchildren - As I stated in the introduction, one of the primary reasons I wrote this story and declaration is to let you have something tangible of where I stand in my faith. As you were growing up I sent mixed and most likely confusing messages, with my actions not following my beliefs. At times I have been confused in priorities and a hypocrite, and now in some ways feel like a Prodigal Son. Please forgive me.  Become familiar with that story in Luke chapter 15, because we all fall at times. Some things I would do different if I could go back, but on the other hand I feel God has a purpose in everything. He works with the humanness within us to make our lives rich and unique.

I urge you to get to know God and build a relationship with Jesus Christ. In spite of what people do, realize that God is in control and all things work together for the good, no matter what. Use your life lessons and challenges as stepping stones on a path to wisdom. Most of all, I pray you will "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself." Be accepting of others, but do the next right thing. Ask for help when you need it, especially from your Heavenly Father. Be grateful for things large and small, even when you don’t want to. I want you to know that I believe in God, and Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I pray that my actions may follow my words, and we may lift each other up when one of us stumbles.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My Spiritual Journey - My Declaration of Faith, Part 6

I wish to declare my faith in terms that others may relate with. With my LDS family members, I will use the Articles of Faith as published by the Mormon church as a reference point. I also use the Apostles Creed as a basis for my own. Neither of these statements below are verbatim to the originals. I used them only as a guide.

My Articles of Faith

  • I believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. I believe that the first principles of the Gospel are found in Luke 10:27, where He answered: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself."
  • I believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved. Obedience to the commandments is our way of showing gratitude to our Father for the sacrifice of His Son, and in doing so we shall be blessed beyond measure.
  • I claim the privilege of worshiping God according to the dictates of my own conscience, and allow all people the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
  • I believe that men will be punished for their own sins, but those sins may be forgiven through the process of repentance and washed away by baptism and the blood of Christ.
  • I believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and other miracles God may use to further His kingdom.
  • I believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; I also believe the word of God may be found in other sources, but must be compared with the teachings of the Bible.
  • I believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
  • It is my belief and prayer to be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, I pray I may seek after these things.
  • I believe that we have a great obligation to serve, give and teach others about Christ and His principles, especially young people and those who may not be able to normally have access to His teachings.
  • I believe the key to happiness is gratitude for the blessings we’ve been given, great and small.

My Creed of Faith
I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from when he shall come to judge all people. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holiness of the church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Reaffirmation of this Project


Yesterday I fasted, contemplating and praying about what role God wanted me to play in this world and in His ministry. What became clear to me is that I need to keep doing what I am doing but more so, including this blog. Whatever role I happen to be in at the moment, I need to do it to my best ability, seeking His guidance, giving Him praise, and repenting when I err. As a man, I need to seek to be a Godly man, as a father - a Godly father, as a husband - a Godly husband. Even though I have a job and activities that do not often allow direct mention of Jesus Christ, I can still represent Him in a way where others find Hope, Joy, Peace and Encouragement in their lives.

I had an unexpected opportunity to share the Lord today. It was in no way planned. During the baptism at the East Unit prison, I felt called during a time lull to stand and share my conversion and testimony to about one-hundred fifty men in blue. I asked permission from the visiting pastor, but he was kind of obligated to say yes. I hope I didn’t offend him. I just couldn’t stay quiet. Since I am the Transition teacher, I couched my message of transitioning from a man of the world to a man of God, such as Saul to Paul (Galatians 1:11-16). It was an honor and a blessing to share my story.  For security purposes, the image included is not from my event.

On my way into work this morning I heard this:

But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me, Reminding me of all the times I've tried before and failed...

But the voice of truth tells me a different story, And the voice of truth says "Do not be afraid!", And the voice of truth says "This is for My glory" - - From Song, Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns"

Sunday, March 3, 2013

My Spiritual Journey - My Missionary Years, Part 5

At the age of 19, March 1979-1981, I went on a two year mission for the Latter-Day Saint church. My dad encouraged me too, but I think it was more for the adventure and life experience. My siblings were very supportive of course, but my Christian friends back home gave me the cold shoulder, expressing feelings that Mormons were a cult, and I should stay away from them. The only people who did not were the Perkins family. I knew them from Ridglea Presbyterian Church, and the daughter Marianne and I were friends from Young Life. They told me they loved me, no matter what. To this day, I am grateful for that. I never asked my mom why she wanted me to go, but I think it was a source of pride for her, in "that's what nice, young Mormon men do". Did they pressure me to go? Not directly. The overall encouragement of the LDS church for all young men is to serve a mission when they're nineteen; so in that sense I did feel pressured. On the other hand, I wanted to go, or I wouldn't have. When I applied to go, my choices were to go to Germany, Sweden or anywhere in Europe. I was called to Denmark. When I left, I reported to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, which is like a boot camp for missionaries. There we were taught and coached in the core beliefs of the LDS church, how to interact with the public, and intense training in the language and culture of our final destination. From Day One we spoke Danish for all but a few minutes of each day the entire two months. My primary instructor was Sister Sonja DeSpain, a middle age Danish-American. The language came fairly easy; the memorization of the lessons did not. I was having fun, and learned a lot, but the "fire in the belly" of converting people to the Mormon church never came to me the entire two years. I did at this point however have a strong testimony of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

When we arrived in Denmark, it was just as they told us, and I had a great first companion (partner) who was a veteran missionary trainer, Elder Raule I think was his name. Missionaries call each other Elder or Sister. He trained me well to work hard, read my scriptures daily, pray all the time and be kind to everyone we met. I enjoyed the work and flourished. I was able to travel and work in about ten different Danish cities including Copenhagen for a year, as well as Vejle, Fredercia and others I cannot remember. After my first companion of six months, I then became a trainer, which was very early for the typical missionary. Most of the time missionaries had a year or so under their belt before they trained others. I include this not to boast, but to point out that from an early age, God blessed me with the gift of being able to teach others, that I would continue to do in my career. I went on to train six missionaries, brand new from the states. Later on I served as a District and Zone Leader. I fit in very well to the mission mostly because I was friendly and loved speaking with people, the language went very well, and the culture fit me to a tee. I guess my Nordic ancestry came out in me. My daily goal was to meet people, become their friend and tell them about the blessings we receive from knowing Jesus Christ. That's what I did. Yes, I always told them about the revelations Joseph Smith received, and always (as instructed) told them not to take my word for it, but pray about it for confirmation. My logic as a nineteen year old figured if God wanted them to be Mormon, He’d tell them so and it wasn’t my job to convince them.

Question: Is it remotely possible, that God wants thousands of different religions? There’s something to think about.

Later I am going to include exactly what I believe in my Declaration of Faith, but let me say this now: I believe that God, through his Holy Spirit can reveal Himself to all people - period. Did he to Joseph Smith? I feel he did, but at some point in what LDS people call the Restoration, something went amiss. I need to say this to my friends and loved ones who think they know Mormons and the LDS faith - I was taught from an early age about the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for all of us on the cross. He was and is the cornerstone of my family faith, so in most aspects I consider the LDS people to be as "Christian" as the main stream population by how I was raised. On the other hand they are very different in their fundamental beliefs, some of which I cannot hold as my own. It is my opinion that when any religion or person goes much deeper than the saving grace of Christ, and the two most important calls of Christianity, i.e. loving God and neighbor, that they tend to easily get wrapped around dogma that will quickly conflict with another and bring discord.