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Archive for June, 2015

When we think about Jesus, we automatically think of Christianity. Although the two are completely different.

Jesus didn’t come to start Christianity. Jesus was not a Christian. We are missing the whole point when we focus on religion rather than the real reason Jesus came to live among us. He came to show us the Father and the love He has for each and every one of us, no matter what we call ourselves or what group we belong too. He even loves those who don’t think he exists.

According to Wikipedia it is stated that according to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Jewish, Christianity and every other religion are all actually related. They are all human based ways of trying to please the God (or gods) they believe in and serve.

In regard to just Christian denominations, World Christian Encyclopedia says that world Christianity consists of 6 major ecclesiastical-cultural blocs, divided into 300 major ecclesiastical traditions, composed of over 33,000 distinct denominations in 238 countries. It certainly can’t be stated that people are not interested in some type of higher power.

We want to argue over religion and who is right, who is wrong. All the different religions of the world can’t agree on who we believe in or what is right. We even break it down more and argue within Christianity with all the different denominations, as we consider ourselves Catholic, or Methodist, or Lutheran, Presbyterian or part of the thousand other groups. We argue over whose interpretation is right and really don’t want to associate with those who feel differently.

Needless to say, we all have our interpretations, thoughts and ideas, but those just make us unique individuals. They were not intended to cause separations and divisions among us. We should be able to be ourselves and yet love and accept those who are different from us.

If we could get past the religious part of our beliefs and live in the freedom God provided, things would go much better. Rather than defend our denominational interpretations and our personal ideas, if we would love and accept others with the love of Christ, people would be more open to hear about our Father.

Christ-Christians

We are normally busy pointing out the mistakes of others, even our brothers and sisters in Christ who have a different view, and condemning those who we consider sinners. When we do so, the love Jesus told us to show everyone seems to get missed. I personally don’t think it is our job to convict people of their sins. Most people know their shortcomings already, and the Holy Spirit will convict the worldly of their sins, drawing them to repentance.

Jesus told us to love God and love others…period. When we focus on the gospels and the life of Jesus and realize that he didn’t condemn and point out the sins and mistakes of people, we can see a distinct difference from the way we act today. He only had an issue with the religious leaders who thought they were better than everyone else because of their works.

When it comes to saying I am a Christian, I am hesitant anymore because of the meaning it receives from most people. If being a Christian means a follower of Christ, someone who wants to be like Christ, and show the love of God to everyone, then I am for it. But if being a Christian is the typical church going, law following, condemning others way of life, I am done with that. In that sense, Christianity is not the answer, nor is any other man-made religion.

Jesus is not into religion. Jesus came to show the love of God to every human being no matter who they are or what they believe. Jesus crosses the barriers of religion and loves everyone. In the world today, we are the Jesus people see, and we should be ready to show the love and acceptance that he showed to everyone we meet.

You may be interested in reading an article on the same topic by my friend Glenn Hager. Read it here: http://www.glennhager.com/2013/05/17/did-jesus-start-a-religion/

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I recently had a dream, one of those that was very clear and distinct, and one I didn’t forget as soon as I woke up. I was dreaming about my wife, and I can’t think of a better subject to dream about. We were out doing errands and after some time of walking around a store, she decided to go to the car and wait on me.

I kept walking around and ran into an old friend. We talked for several minutes, to the point I was getting worried that my wife would be wondering what happened to me. I finally moved on, then went to the car. Once outside, I could not find the car. I was wondering where my wife had gone. I kept thinking to myself, where are you?

Where are You

I saw another store close by, so went in thinking she was there. I walked around the store and a stranger unexpectedly stopped me and asked me a question. Shortly after that, I ran into another friend and we talked for what seemed like a long time. Again I began feeling nervous because my wife didn’t know where I was and I kept wondering where she had gone.

Once back outside I could still not find my wife or see our car. I was getting pretty nervous and kept wondering where my wife could be.

I finally got out my phone and called her. When she answered, I anxiously said where are you? She very quietly and calmly said, I’m right here.

As soon as she said that, I woke up. There she was laying right beside me, asleep, not having any idea what was going on inside my head. I just wanted to roll over and give her a big hug.

I got to thinking about why this dream seemed so clear and distinct. It certainly wasn’t anything profound, but I got to thinking about how we question God. We have unexpected distractions and events throughout our lives and we immediately ask God, where are you.

What hit me about this dream was it seemed God was saying that even when we wonder and question, even when we have the unexpected distractions, hardships and questions of life, He is right there ready to comfort us and encourage us by calmly saying, I’m right here.

Our Father told us that He is with us always, He would never leave us nor forsake us. He isn’t a God who is distant and can’t be found, He lives within us. We are His temple, or home, here on earth. He told us that He is with us always, even unto the end of the age.

Even when we feel like He is far away, when we question Him and wonder where He is and why He isn’t doing something, we can know that He is right there beside us. Even better than that, He is within us.

When you have those times of wondering where God is, look deep within yourself and listen for that still, small voice that says… I’m right here.

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I don’t know about you, but the verse in Hebrews 10:25 about not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together sure gets quoted a lot when it comes to attending church or not attending.

Once someone hears my wife and I have stopped attending an organized service each week, the first thing we usually hear is this verse.

Truth of the matter is, I do not think this verse is even talking about what we call church.

Body of Christ

As I’ve stated before, church is not a building or a place. Church is the people of God, those of us born into His kingdom by grace. Church is not an organization, it’s an organism. Church is not a one day event, it is a daily lifestyle of people loving God and loving others.

When reading the verses preceding this verse, you find it is talking about how we are now granted permission to enter into the Holy place, not a building, but into the presence of God. This happened when Jesus died and the veil was torn from top to bottom.

To me, this verse is saying that we need our brothers and sisters in Christ for encouragement and to stimulate one another to love and good deeds in Christ. It has nothing to do with an organized religious service in a building. It has everything to do with loving and communicating with other Christians.

One of readers of this blog, José Arroyo made the following comment, which goes along with this thought… “we assemble to motivate each other (to) love and good works…exactly what I didn’t get in church when I attended. Nevertheless, I can assemble with one or two, and Jesus is there to motivate us himself. Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. That makes a threesome, enough for an assembly”.

When you think of countries where Christianity is against the law and churches are closed down, do we think the Christian people are wrong for not attending a service every week? They get together in small groups in houses or where-ever they feel they can meet safely. It may not be more than two or three people.

Another reader, Viki Wieland Manera, made this comment…”I have only been out of the church for <1 year, but I am finding the assembly of just 2, 3 or 4 is 100x more powerful than my former assembling with 200. There is deeper meaning and honesty. The masses for me created a falseness and mimicry that I was never comfortable with – even after 20 years of it”.

gathering-around-table

Jesus said where two or three gather together in my name, there I am in their midst. We do not need buildings or large groups of people to gather to fulfill this verse about assembling. We do need each other, no matter if it is meeting at home, or meeting for dinner at a restaurant, or getting together in a park. The important thing is to love God and love one another and be available to our brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage and build them up.

An interesting comment made by Terrence Williams said…”this verse stresses to me the absolute difference between “assembling” and “gathering”. A box of Legos can be constantly gathered together but it only takes shape to represent the desire of its creator when it is assembled by him. Then it is ready to perform the function it was created for. So is the body of Christ. Therefore, those who put all their eggs in the basket of Sunday church, it is they who have truly forsaken the “assembling” of themselves together. They are constantly gathering but never really assembling”.

Let me again point out I am not against church or those who attend. My wife and I were part of the weekly service for years, but over the past couple years, we have found that for us, it makes more sense to be outside the walls of religion and seek meaningful fellowship each day with our brothers and sisters in Christ rather than continue to sit in a pew listening to a select few participate. We believe in the priesthood of all believers, and that it is a daily lifestyle, not a weekly event, with everyone being equally important parts of the body.

A more in depth study of this topic can be viewed at the following link, written by my good friend David Yeubanks of truthforfree.com:  Click here: http://www.truthforfree.com/forsaking-the-assembly/

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My wife and I enjoy watching our grandkids play sports. Some of them are involved in baseball, some soccer, some football or basketball. So many grandkids, so many sports, so there is always someone to go watch.

This got me to thinking about trophies. I’ve noticed how the younger kids always get trophies at the end of the season. No matter how well or how bad they played, everyone gets a trophy, and they all look forward to that trophy.

Trophies

Once kids get a little older, it all changes. It becomes only the best teams get trophies and only the best players get awards.

In the world system everything is based on competition, and on how hard you work and how much effort you put forth. Only those willing to work hard, play hard and who win the most get the trophies.

In the spiritual world it is completely different. Spiritually speaking, all who are in Christ are winners and everyone gets a trophy. It does not depend on how hard you work, what you do or how successful you are.

Our trophies come as a result of the work of Christ. It is by grace we are saved and by grace we live in God’s Kingdom each and every day.

There are no upper level Christians, or those who work harder and get rewarded more. There are those we consider well-known and in the spotlight, then there are those who are behind the scenes and usually unrecognized. It does not matter, we are all winners with God. The important thing is we are all important and useful to our Father and we all get trophies because of His work.

Life in Christ is a priesthood of all believers, not a chosen few. It is not because of our work but it is the fruit of the Spirit. It is God’s work from within us that makes us all important in His Kingdom.

The trophies and rewards are actually the good works that come forth in the form of the fruit of the Spirit because we are part of the Vine. It is by grace and not anything we do. Good works, or fruit becomes apparent in our lives as Christ shines forth from within us. These good works will draw others to him and his love as we live for him day by day.

Do not think you are a nobody in the Kingdom of God. Don’t look up to others and wish you could do what they do for God. Realize you are who you are because God designed you that way and uses you best that way. It is His strength and love that does the work from within.

We can rest in God knowing our efforts and works are not what God requires. We can rest in Him and let the Spirit work and touch others through us with his love. Then be ready to get your trophy.

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