Location: New England, United States

Sunday, October 30, 2005

It Was Never About Religion

In my last post, I wrote about the constraints placed on our relationship with God by organized religion. Paul said, " For you were called to freedom, brethren; "Galatians 5:13 RSV Jesus came not to bind us up, but to set us free. It is freedom that allows the abundance that Jesus promised.

The word 'religion' originated in the ancient Latin word ' religio' meaning taboo or restraint. The literal breakdown of the word is 're' which means to return and 'liagre' which means 'to bind.' So, the actual meaning of religion is to - "return to bondage."

Allow me to portray one such religion. This religion originated in Rome centuries ago and still exists today in Italy and many other areas. This religion includes the worship of a god, however, during the month of May, its main focus is the worship of the 'Mother of Heaven and Earth'. During the worship service, candles are lit on each side of the altar. The priest uses incense to perform his rituals before the statue of the Mother of Heaven and Earth. Then the Mother is crowned with a crown of gold or one made of flowers. Celibate, women initiates wear white, crescent- shaped head dresses which they then cover with white or black veils. The women kneel before the statue of the Mother chanting prescribed prayers that proclaim the glory of the Mother and beseech her for blessings. This religion may sound familiar to you - it is the religion of Diana as practiced in Ephesus during Paul's ministry there and is considered a pagan religion by the followers of Jesus.

Beware of religion. Although its organization can "bind a group of believers" in a common faith, it can also be used as an impediment to a real, personal relationship with God. Pray for discernment, for your spiritual growth is your responsibility.

" O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? " Galatians 3:1-3 RSV

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

It Is Personal

I was recently questioned by a fellow church member on my spiritual history prior to joining our church. Specifically, she asked which church I belonged to before this one. I quietly explained that I had not belonged to any church for the past thirty years. I went on to explain that I had spent that thirty years in a personal relationship with God - just him and me. I read my Bible, I prayed daily, I read Christian books, and listened to evangelists on the television. I had been fed spiritually by God's own hand. He led me and I followed. It wasn't until a year ago that he charged me with going to church. The woman was aghast at my answer and responded that no one can have a relationship with God without a church. I disagree.

" Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple you are." I Corinthians 3:16-17 RSV

When God charged me with joining this church, I went reluctantly. I had enjoyed my time alone with God - learning only from him - however, I knew I had to obey. I did not know that he had a plan for me and those 30 years had prepared me for his plan. My Father did not send me to this church for spiritual food ( although the Pastor is an inspired speaker filled with the Holy Spirit), God sent me to this church to serve. He brought me out of the wilderness to teach and share what I learned during those 30 years alone with him. All through those 30 years, I had no idea that he was preparing me for just this moment in time.

God is not in a church unless we bring his Spirit with us. We are the church and the early Christians understood that concept. Our organized religions have become as structured as our governments with regulations and laws that God never intended. There is a hierarchy in our organized religions that God does not recognize and never imposed. Jesus came to set us free from the law and the religious hierarchy. Jesus came so that each of us would have only one person standing between God and ourselves - and that one person is Jesus.

" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me." John 14:6 RSV

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

From My Prayer Journal

Dear Father

Give me no knowlege without humility. Give me no discernment without mercy. Give me no visions without peace. Give me no trial without joy and please Father, give me no wisdom without love.

In Jesus' name - Jerusalem

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Birth of a Nation

"Then the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, 'To your descendants I will give this land.' So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him." Genesis 12:7 RSV

Abram had left his hometown of Ur when he was seventy-five years old. He left with his wife Sari and his nephew, Lot. Abram left Ur at an age when most of us would rather sit in a rocking chair on the front porch. When Abram got to Shechem - many miles from Ur - the Lord promised Abram that his descendants would occupy the land. Abram was seventy-five years old. His wife Sari was well beyond her child-bearing years and yet, God promised Abram descendants. So what did Abram do? Did he rush back to Sari to make sure the prophecy came to pass? No, he built and altar to the Lord and prayed.

"And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples." Matthew 9:10 RSV We see in this passage that Jesus sat with the tax collectors and other sinners for a meal. We can assume that he was not just feeding their bodies, but also their souls. Jesus was witnessing to them. So what did Jesus do after he had planted the seed of salvation to those tax collectors and other sinners? He went.

Did you know that there are 53 passages in the New Testatment for the words, "Jesus went".
After every healing, every testimony, every exorcism, Jesus went. After Jesus preached to the crowds, he went. Just as Abram prayed to the Lord after the promise of descendants, Jesus retired from his testimony to pray for the seed he had just planted.

Jesus did not force feed the Word to the people. He did not stay to see if the seed took root. He planted and went on knowing that the germination of the seed was in God's hands - not man's.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Open Your Eyes

And What Do You See?

"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" Matthew 6:22 RSV

Do you remember that Jesus said that he was the light of the world? What is it that makes him the light? If we believe that Jesus is God then what was the the very first thing we learned about God? We learned that He created. With four small words, God began creation, "Let there be light." So, we see that light is a creation.

So what is darkness? "The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.." Genesis 1:2 RSV Here we see that darkness is not created - it is a void. Darkness rushes in when there is no light.

Yes Jesus is the light of the world and he wanted us to continue shining that light after he left this world. He expects us to keep it shining until he returns. This is what he meant when he said "Pray for your enemies." "If someone sues you and takes your coat, then give him your cloak as well." "If someone forces you to go one mile with them, then go with him two miles."

Every cause has an effect. Your power lies in that effect because if you change your action the world must respond to that change. If you shine a light on darkness the void is filled.

It is your choice.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Key to the Universe

I have been laid up with the flu for the past few days. I napped and watched a lot of television while recuperating. I watched a program on PBS.

This program was on the life of Einstein - E=mc2. The equation means that energy equals matter times the speed of light squared. Basically what this is saying is that energy can be turned into matter and matter can be turned into energy, but neither can be destroyed. We applaud Einstein for his theory, but did Einstein realize its real significance?

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light.'; and there was light." Genesis 1:1-3 RSV

Did you see it? Did you see the significance of Einstein's theory in the Bible passage above? God made the entire universe from his Spirit - his light. All energy and matter are made of the same properties as light. So, Einstein proved that there is life after death. If a human being is composed of both matter (body) and energy (our thoughts and emotions) then, according to Einstein's theory neither can be destroyed. When we die our bodies decay and return to the dust of earth. What then happens to our energy? Remember, it cannot be destroyed, therefore by scientific conclusion, it must exist somewhere.

Genesis goes on to state that we are made in God's image, therefore, we are also made from his light. This was his perfect plan - that we would all carry his light like a burning torch and act accordingly.

Of course, we know that this is not how the world is operating today. We have applied names to things such as darkness, cold, hate and evil. If the world was made of God's light, then these things do not exist. Let me explain.

To dispel darkness from a room, do you shut the shades on the windows; do you seal the cracks around the door? No, to dispel darkness you turn on a light. To dispel the shadows in the corners of the room, you turn on more lights and you continue to turn on lights until all the shadows in the room have been erased. So too, when you are cold do you apply ice cubes to to hands to dispel the cold? No, it is only by the application of warmth that cold is dispelled. Scientist know that darkness and cold do not really exist. They are voids. Darkness is only the absence of light and cold is only the absence of heat.

So, what about hate and evil? Will revenge ever stop the hatred of an enemy? Will an exchange of evil cancel each other? Again, hate and evil are only the absence of love and goodness. They too are voids. So how can we dispel these two forces? To dispel hate and evil, we must fill the voids with love and goodness. Try it -the next time you are aggravated by someone close to you respond with your light.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

From My Devotions Today

" And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Luke 23:43 RSV

Jesus is hanging on the cross. On either side of him are two thieves hanging on their respective crosses. All three will die. One thieve curses him, but the other, knowing that they are about to perish asks Jesus if he may be made part of his kingdom.

In the aftermath of any major disaster people will ask, "Why did God do this?" or Why did God allow this to happen?" Death is no respecter of your goals, your dreams, or your position at work. He comes whether you are young, old or somewhere in between. Your ideals, political beliefs and fame will not protect you from the clutches of death. Even your spiritual and religious beliefs will not protect you. We will all die - some of us will die one by one - some all together.

I have a red letter Bible ( a Bible that hi-lights the words spoken by Jesus in red), so the first thing I saw this morning when I opened my Bible were the words captioned above.

"One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Luke 23: 39-42 RSV

Which criminal will you be?

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