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Have you ever felt guilty because you did not say something to someone about Christ? Do you feel obligated to speak your mind about a particular sin? Do you feel it is your duty as a Christian to force every opportunity into a chance to tell someone about salvation or to point out where you think they are wrong?

Quite frankly I disagree with all of the above. I agree that some people have the gift of evangelism and should be using that gift to the fullest under the guidance of the Spirit. I also feel that not all of us need to be forcing the issue with those we come in contact each day.

As Christians we are told to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and love others as ourselves. When we live our lives each day under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the love of God, the way we act will be a witness to God’s love.

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Anyone can speak words…words of condemnation, words of how we should live for God, words against particular sins but words themselves have no strength. It is daily living in the power of the Spirit and letting the love of God touch others that makes a difference. When we consistently live in the love of God and the guidance of the Spirit it has more impact than thousands of words.

 

We need to remember that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts and draws people to the Father. It is not our job to be condemning people and trying to prove to them that they are sinning against God.

God’s word says that we should live a quiet life, working with our hands and being ready to give an account of the hope that is within us.

1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12 – Do all you can to live a peaceful life. Take care of your own business and do your own work as we have already told you. If you do, then people who are not believers will respect you, and you will not have to depend on others for what you need. (New Century Version).

1 Peter 3:15 – Through thick and thin keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you are living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy (The Message).

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Notice we are told to be ready to speak up when asked. Go about your daily routine, minding your business, living a peaceful life, but be ready at all times to give an answer about salvation and God’s love when someone asks, and always in love and without judgment and condemnation. Only when the Holy Spirit is leading the opportunity and the words will it make an impact on the person anyway.

By living this lifestyle and not forcing our views on others, the words we say will have more meaning to those who are wondering about the hope that is within us.

Have you ever come across someone who says they are a Christian yet the way they act speaks something completely different?

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I remember an experience my wife had some time ago. She returned a couple books to what used to be a library. She did not realize the library had closed and a church was now there. Once she realized the library was no longer at this site she went back to the church to get the books.

She said she will never forget the look and condescending attitude of the guy she talked to…who turned out to be the pastor.

My wife assumed that this pastor did not agree with women wearing makeup or knee-length dresses. Now I know there are groups that do not believe in women wearing make-up and I feel that is up to them how they interpret the Bible and what they feel is right and wrong. But in this case my wife did not in any way over-do her make-up so I did not see any reason why anyone would even think to question the way she looked. Obviously, this guy had a different view about the matter. He was not nice to her, it was obvious that he did not want to talk to her and felt she should not be in his so-called ‘house of God’. What rubbish.

This whole incident made me think of Jesus when he was with some of the religious leaders of His day and made the statement, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness”.

First, that building was not the house of God. People tend to forget God does not live in buildings. He lives in people who are saved by grace.

Second, what kind of witness was that to my wife? This guy did not know if she was a Christian or not. The way he treated her could have been the final straw for her wanting to know God. Sometimes I think we run people off from wanting to know God by the way we act.

We Christians need to stop and think about our actions and how we treat other people. We are God’s witnesses to the world. We may be the only witness of God’s love they see and if we are not living under the guidance of the Spirit of God we can make a very negative impact of those we come in contact each day.

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This is not to say our actions and the things we do earn our salvation or earn the love of God. No, that was all taken care of by the grace of God. It was not anything we did or can do.

Yet we need to be careful not to have a religious spirit. Let God’s love for others flow through you. Remember God told us to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and love your neighbor (all people) as yourself. Do not be a stumbling block to someone by the way you act and treat others.

I am becoming more and more angered over the religious freedom talk and the laws being signed in various states across our country.

I know it sounds good and I do believe everyone should have religious freedom. Yet a lot of these bills sound more like discrimination to me.

When we sign into law a bill that forces one groups views on everyone, or when the religious beliefs of one group are forced on another group that is not standing up for your faith…that is discrimination.

Whether it is discrimination against Muslims, Gays, Atheist, Black, Christian or whatever group we could mention, forcing the views of one group on everyone else is not right.

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It is also hard to believe that people want laws passed saying that if you have a certain religious belief you expect everyone to adhere to that belief and you do not have to give the same rights and consideration to other groups of people.

What happened to the teaching of Jesus to love our neighbors and do not judge? Do we not remember that Jesus spent time with the non-religious people and those who the religious crowd would not spend time?

We need to remember just because people are different, just because we have different views and different faiths or no faith at all, as christians we believe God created us all and He loves us all. We as his followers are to do the same.

We are not going to legislate christian morality. We are not going to convert anyone to our way of thinking by passing laws, especially those that discriminate against anyone.

Remember, as christians we are to love God, love our neighbor, love our enemies, and love those who hate and mistreat us. The Holy Spirit is the one who will convict the world of sin where convicting is needed.

Obviously, this does not mean we are all going to agree. We can have our individual beliefs and ways of life and still respect and care for each other.

We should stop trying to do the job of the Spirit and love one another in spite of our differences.

Coexist

I don’t know about you but there is a bumper sticker I have always liked yet I understand many christian people would not agree with me. It is the coexist bumper sticker.

coexist

I do not necessarily agree with all the beliefs of the organizations in coexist, but there is a basic concept that I think we as christians should be showing to the world.

Now there are several institutions that I do not know a lot about that make up the group, and I am sure I do not agree with every concept of all of them. What I do like about the coexist organization is the statement that their mission is to advance social cohesion through education and innovation. That they work at the fault-lines of conflicting cultural identities to strengthen the bond that holds a society together through a sustainable model of people working and learning together. This generates social cohesion that reduces prejudice, hate and violence and prevents conflict from emerging again.

I know many christian people will take this in a way that says anything goes. Whatever you want to believe is fine no matter what and we can all go through life together happy and accepting each other with no consequences. Many will feel that education is the key and if we just learn how each other thinks we can be accepting and get along with no problem.

For me, I agree with some of this way of thinking. We should be able to talk, learn, and get to know others of different ideas, faith, lifestyle and nationalities. We should be able to get along, love and accept people who see things differently.

That does not mean we have to always agree or change our way of thinking just to get along. We can be loving and accepting of others even in our differences.

There are certainly many different ways of thought, many different religious groups, the LGBTQ community, atheists, different nationalities, ethnic groups and on and on. We certainly are not all going to agree with each other.

What I am saying is even though we see things differently and we do not agree on everything we should be able to accept one another in love and respect, accept each other for who we are and get along together in our differences yet keep our personal beliefs and individuality.

loveandacceptanceofothers

Those of us who are following Jesus and consider ourselves christians are called to love God and love others. The others we are to love are not just those who believe, or go to the same religious organization or interpret the bible the same way. Many times it is loving those who most religious people would not take the time to be around. It seems to me this is the way Jesus lived.

I think we can coexist with our fellow humans and still hold to our personal faith and beliefs. Each of us can live our lives in a way we feel is right for us and accept those who feel differently.

Outside the Box

We hear a lot of talk about thinking outside the box or doing things outside the box. Many of us as christians these days think of the box in a different way.

Many of us when we hear something about the box or outside the box we think about the modern-day church. We think of a building where like-minded believers gather once a week to worship and learn about God.

The traditional church today is basically known as a box or four walls of brick, mortar and wood where people come in and separate themselves from the world and from believers of different interpretation and beliefs.

outofthebox

When we talk about outside the box we are talking about living outside the walls of modern-day religion and the traditional institutional church. We talk about no longer participating in the weekly service, listening to one person do all the talking while we sit there silently looking at the back of head of the person in front of us.

Fellowship to us is not sitting silently. Fellowship is communicating and associating with fellow believers as a regular way of life each and every day. Meeting together as God brings about the opportunity, getting together for a meal or in our homes to talk and get to know one another.

To us church is not a building or an organization with its doctrines and interpretations, meetings and such. Church is the people who are following Jesus on a day to day basis, loving God and loving others. It is living outside the walls of a building and accepting people who not only believe like us but people who see things differently than we do.

Does that mean that being in the box and worshipping inside a building is wrong? Does it mean those within the box are not trying to follow Jesus? Of course not! God works within the building and outside the building. Many good things happen within the organization, but for some of us we feel there is a better way.

For my wife and me, along with thousands of others, we have moved outside the box. We have become very unsatisfied with the man-ordained organization and of separating ourselves according to denomination, doctrine and interpretation. We feel that when Jesus said he would build his Church he was not talking about any type organization, denomination or man-led system.

For us Church is people who daily live under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is daily depending on God and His Spirit for guidance, learning and understanding. We love God and want to show that love to others by loving our neighbor, whoever that may be. We want to be loving, kind and accepting to everyone, not just to those of our particular group or belief.

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If you are inside the walls of a traditional church organization and you are happy there, stay there and serve God as He leads. If you are in a church and are unsatisfied, or if you have left the organization and are questioning your decision please do not feel guilty. Put you trust in God and seek the guidance of the Spirit.

Realize that the Church is the people of God. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves with your brothers and sisters, which means we need one another for fellowship and encouragement but we do not have to be in a building or organization sitting and listening to one person do all the talking. Feel free to walk outside the box and love each and every one of those God brings into your life day by day.

If you grew up in church and the religious organization, have you ever thought about the idea that maybe we were told some wrong things and taught some wrong interpretations?

Most of us who have been in the church for any length of time knows how the system works and it is really all we know. We listen to a pastor and figure they know what they are talking about because they were called by God. They went to a college institution to be taught everything about God by another human.

For my wife and me, the longer we were in the institution the more we felt uncomfortable and began questioning some things that just did not seem to fit together. I remember having several questions over time about doctrine or interpretation that did not make sense to me, or did make sense but not in the traditional teaching of the church. I knew if I asked the pastor or others in the church they would think I was wrong or falling away from my faith.

I think as time goes on being outside the walls of religion we have come to find that some of what we were taught all these years just might not be the way God intended. Man might have taught some wrong doctrines all based on human interpretation apart from the Spirit.

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We have found that asking questions usually leads to more questions. I think it is time we stop relying on a pastor or so-called spiritual leader to tell us all about God and start thinking for ourselves. We have the Holy Spirit within us who was sent to teach us. We have the mind of Christ so why do we still think we need another human being to tell us all about God.

There is nothing wrong with discussing thoughts and ideas with other people. It is not wrong to hear different views and interpretations, but in the end follow the leading of the Spirit and do not rely on the opinions of others.

Ask the Spirit to lead you into His truth. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Ask God for guidance. Remember we are all kings and priests, we are all equally functioning parts of the body and Christ is our head. We do not need to rely on another human being to teach us about God. Listen for the quiet and calm voice of the Spirit and seek His guidance.

I am not much into politics and I certainly do not much hope or trust in politicians. I very seldom make political statements since I feel politics is a personal thing. Who you vote for or if you vote at all is up to each individual. So this will be one of very few statements I will make on politics and it will not be an endorsement for any candidate.

I also realize that not everyone who reads my articles are from the USA or is of the christian faith. So bear with me since this will be from an American and christian perspective.

First off, whether you vote party lines, independent or third-party is entirely a personal choice. Whether you vote at all is a personal choice. I understand the concept that as christians we live in the Kingdom of God and we trust God as our head and pledge no allegiance to man. Yet living in this world many believe in the political process and they vote for those they feel is best to lead the country. I believe in praying for our leaders and trying to get the best people into office for the good of the country.

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Either way we look at this, the one thing that really bothers me is seeing christian people and especially those in leadership positions such as pastors, evangelists, elders and such making comments such as “if you are a christian why are you supporting this person”, or, “if you were a real christian you would not be voting for that candidate”.

I understand pastors and leaders giving their personal opinions about who they like as a candidate, we all do that, but that should be done on a more personal and private basis. I think to tell people you are or are not a christian based on who you vote for is just not right.

I think most people are smart enough to listen, read and decide for themselves who they want to support. Most people want the best for our country and they really believe they are voting for the person who will do the best job.

I personally think that christians, especially those such as pastors and leaders who make these type statements should keep their views to themselves. We all should have the right to vote for the person we feel is best, and to do so without someone trying to put a guilt trip on us for having a different view, especially when it comes to our christianity.

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