Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

Religion, Relationship or Both

November 29, 2013 3 comments

So often in the past, oh I don’t know how long, we have been told that religion is not where it’s at.  We have learned that it is man’s attempt to reach up to God.  It’s our try to link from here to the Lord on our own.  It’s us building a tower up so that we can reach heaven.  It’s our climbing a ladder, step by step, in our attempt to earn God’s favor.

Instead, the message we hear is that we live in a relationship.  One that is based on the relationship that the Father has with the Son and the Holy Spirit.  A relationship that involves an invasion from Heaven.  One that began with normal familial relationships and spread to friendships among those that followed Him.  A relationship that causes us to be adopted into God’s family and makes us Abraham’s descendants.

What if, though?

What if it’s actually both?

What if the relationship Christ establishes in us creates a religion that is not our attempt to simply reach God on our own?

Since the old things have passed away and the new has come, why isn’t religion new?  Why doesn’t Jesus flip the script?

I think he does.  We just don’t like the word religion once we come to know Christ and that’s ok.  I don’t really care.  As long as the relationship is driving the religion, we’re all good.  As long as it simply isn’t us doing it all on our own, in our own power, in our own flesh, then we’re good.

Is it religion, relationship or both?

I’ll let you answer that one for yourself.

Which is it?

Have You Dropped In?

December 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Mickey Newbury wrote a song in the 1960’s called Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).  It was recorded by First Edition with Kenny Rogers singing lead.  If you want to do further research into what that song was about, that’s fine, but what I want to do today is just ask a simple question.

What condition is your condition in?

Are you dead in your trespasses and sins as Paul describes in Ephesians 2:1?  Or have you been made alive together with Christ per verse 5?

Are you darkened in your understanding as Paul says we are without Christ in Ephesians 4:18?  Or have the eyes of your heart been enlightened as he says in Ephesians 1:18?

Have you been transformed by the renewing of your mind or are you being conformed to the pattern of this world? (Romans 12:2)

Are you in Christ a new creature with the old passing and the new coming? (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Have you dropped in to see what condition your condition is in?

What A Strange Thing That Happened

November 25, 2012 11 comments

Once upon a time I was told, jokingly of course, that encouragement was not my spiritual gift.  That kind of hurt my feeling at the time, but after a few years of reflection I kind of have to agree with them.  There are simply some people in the Church who have the gift to encourage others.

Not me.  I have to work at it.  And I do so.  In fact, that  is one of the main purposes of this blog.  I want to encourage others to really think about what we in the Church do,  In turn, I hope that they come away from a blog post stronger in their walk with the Lord.

So, I was taken aback a bit to find myself in a debate this week with a rationalist/atheist.

Somehow they found one of my posts and decided that I would be a good person to debate how irrational our faith is.

I actually agreed with them.  From their perspective.  It is totally irrational from their view to believe in Someone we don’t see and can’t “prove”.

We went back and forth a bit until I asked myself a question.

Why was this happening?

Why after writing what is closing in on 600 blog posts would someone pick up one that I wrote weeks ago and had moved on from?

Here’s why I believe that happened.  It’s ok if you don’t, but I believe in this sort of thing.

My family and I have changed churches.  Not only have we changed churches, but we are happier in church right now than we have been in years.  We are taking it slow, but we are slowly submerging more of our feet each week.  Our lives are changing.

The enemy isn’t happy with that.

So, boom.  The enemy led someone to find a particular post of mine.  They engaged me in a way that I am not sure I have ever been engaged before.

You see, we don’t struggle with flesh and blood, but with rulers and powers and world forces of this darkness, and the spiritual forces of wickedness.

The real fight was not with any atheist that happened to find my blog.  The real fight was a battle that I could not see with my eyes.

What a strange thing that happened.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation and realized that it was a spiritual battle?

3 Concerns Over Jesus

July 22, 2012 2 comments

Today we finish up John 18 with Jesus facing Pilate.  The Jews have handed Christ over for Pilate to decide what to do with Him.  There are 3 concerns that take precedence in everyone’s mind over Christ Himself in this sequence of events.

Concern With Religion

The Jews come to the Praetorium, but will not enter Pilate’s house due to the fact that they want to be defiled and be unable to eat the Passover.

This is interesting because there is nothing in the Law that would prevent them from entering a Gentiles house.  The defilement that they would face is an addition to the Law that they have made.  It is a religious addition.

This seems to be a problem that still rises in our churches today.  We have people who want to add things to what it means to be a follower of Christ.  It may be that everyone signs a church covenant.  It may be it is decided that certain behaviors will cause exclusion while another behavior is accepted.  It may be a type of music.  Whatever it is, we can become too focused on our “religion” than the One our faith is about.

Concern With Kingdom

Pilate asked Jesus if He was the King of the Jews.  Jesus did not want to give a straight answer.  This is not because Jesus had something to hide.  In fact, He had nothing to hide at all.  He stated later that He had come into the world to “testify to the truth.”

However, Jesus is trying to avoid speaking on the same terms as Pilate.  He knows that there is too much misunderstanding over the term King in reference to Himself.  He tells Pilate that if His “kingdom were of this world, My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

The difference between Jesus and the Jews and Pilate is that the kingdoms they are focused on are completely different. Jesus is focused on a kingdom of rule and of the heart.  Pilate and the Jews are concerned with a kingdom of power.

Too often, we too are concerned with the wrong kingdom.  Too many of us who follow Christ try to combine God’s kingdom with the earthly kingdom we occupy here today.  We try to achieve God’s kingdom with earthly kingdom practices.

Concern With Others

What Pilate is ultimately trying to do is appease all sides.  He knows that there are no legitimate charges against Jesus.  He knows the entire thing is a kangaroo court.  He wants to wash his hands of the entire thing, which he eventually does, and move on.

Pilate questions Jesus hoping to make the Jews happy.  He attempts to release Jesus, thinking that will be enough.

The problem is that pleasing the crowd is never enough.  You simply can’t do it.

Pilate gives the crowd a choice: Jesus or Barabbas.  The irony of this is that Barabbas’ name means “Son of Abba.”  So, you have the true Son of the Father and one named son of the father.  The crowd has their choice.  As they will when it comes to the truth, the crowed makes the wrong choice.  Barabbas is released and Jesus is given the death penalty.

When we boil it down, there was a choice in three areas in this story: religion, politics and popularity.  This was going on 2,000 years ago and it’s going on today in our lives.

Have you ever found yourself concerned with the wrong side of religion, politics and popularity?  What did you do?

Random Thoughts At The End Of January

January 31, 2012 12 comments

Just some random thoughts I had this month.

Can you have true kindness and compassion without Christ?

We Built This City is possibly my least favorite rock song of all time.

Do you remember the show, Alice? I never wanted to kiss Flo’s grits. I prefer to eat grits with salt, pepper and butter for breakfast.

A friend of mine forgot to pray until he was halfway through lunch one day.Does it still count or is it, like, half a prayer?

Since Chi-Fil-A is closed on Sunday, should everyone eat there on Wednesday before church?
Our religion should be an expression of our relationship with Christ. One way or the other, most of the time it is.
What exactly was Kurt Cobain singing in Smells Like Teen Spirit?
52% of people do not wash their hands after using the restroom.
Why do people have to fly by you, then immediately pull in front of you, just to get somewhere one second faster?  It’s irritating, especially when it’s someone you know.
A friend of mine heard an ad on a Christian radio station for a spiritual coach.  Isn’t that your pastor?
Read that 90% of pastors spend just two hours per message on sermon prep during the week.  I know they have other stuff to do, but what is so important that they spend that little time preparing to preach the word of God?
No one has ever given me the key to a city.  If they did, I would stick it in the ignition and take the town for a spin.
The Bean Pot restaurant in Crossville, TN is closing.  I remember the last time I ate there.  This is truly a sad event.
I wish the University of Alabama would quit sending my daughter correspondence.  Not.  Going.  To.  Happen.
My daughter bought her prom dress the other day.  Sigh.
I hope you all had a great January.  Remember, it’s only 329 days until Christmas.
Did you have any random thoughts in January?