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Archive for the tag “God”

Happy Easter

I was chatting with a non-Christian friend earlier today and he was moaning about having to accompany his family to church.

When I encouraged him to try to see beyond everything else to the message of Easter, he said;

“Organized religion bears subliminal messages of subjugation. They are tools of oppression by men, of women, children and the weak. No one should submit to those teachings…”

I had to agree with him. Except for his spelling of ‘organized’, he’s American, they can’t spell properly! On a more serious note, I had to concede that he was right about organised religion.

Organised religion is an institution to express one’s belief in a higher power. It is an outward and often social articulation of belief in higher powers, often practised in community settings and may include participation in rituals. These are definitions from a couple of dictionaries.

However, I do not subscribe to organised religion. I believe in and have a relationship with God, three in One. I believe The Father made me in His image and likeness and endowed me with all of that He is and represents – love, forgiveness, mercy, kindness etc.

jesus-relationship-not-religion

I believe that Jesus, the Son, was crucified not for any wrongdoing on His part but because it was the only way to ensure my salvation. An exchange needed to be made; a life for a life, and He gave His for mine, willingly.

I believe in the Holy Spirit. He is there to comfort, guide and teach me.

Increasingly and unfortunately, Christianity has become a set of rules and regulations, dos and don’ts, rituals and traditions instead of a lifestyle of faith. A lot of Christians are now more concerned with what people can see on the outside as opposed to what is actually on the inside. It has become less about the state of our hearts and more about putting on a good show, less about pleasing God and more about conforming to other people’s expectations.

I’m so thankful that “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7. He is the only One I need to please

It saddens me to agree with my friend but he has a very valid point. Manipulation has become the order of the day in the church; toe the line or fall out of favour.

Jesus does not manipulate. He doesn’t play games or hold his cards close to His chest keeping us guessing about what He wants. He is very clear when He says He loves us unconditionally and accepts us just the way we are. He doesn’t put undue pressure on us to be good. He doesn’t have unrealistic expectations for us. He invites us to come and reason with Him Isaiah 1:18. He offers rest for our weary and burdened souls Matthew 11:29.

He says He loves us with an everlasting love Jeremiah 31:3 and nothing can separate us from that love Romans 8:38 and I believe every word.

It will probably take my friend a whole lot more than this post to be persuaded that true Christianity isn’t organised religion and that’s ok. If someone as erudite and eloquent as Paul was only able to ‘almost’ persuade Agrippa to be a Christian, I have my work cut out for me Acts 26:28 – 29.

However like Paul responded to Agrippa, (and I paraphrase) it is my prayer that whether now or sometime in the future, you too, will become a Christian just as I am.

Happy Easter, everyone.

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Friend of God

I’m privileged to have some fantastic friends. Some of whom I see and speak to regularly, others I may not see or hear from in years yet time and distance do little or nothing to diminish the richness of our relationship. Some I have known since we were children and others I have only recently met but the duration of our time as friends takes a back seat to the intimacy we share.

Not all my friendships have lasted but I have come to appreciate that just as there are seasons of life, the same is also true for friendship. There is a poem that makes the rounds by email every so often and though its origins are uncertain, it succinctly captures this truth.

Reason, Season, or Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

— Unknown

There are lots of things in my life that I’m thankful for and friendship tops the list, coming in at a very close second to family. However there is one friendship I can boast of which meets and exceeds all three of the above mentioned categories. It is a friendship that defies the confines and limitations of time, space and distance. It is a friendship that models sacrifice, unconditional love, acceptance and self-disclosure. It is a friendship based on trust, honesty, understanding and compassion. It is a friendship that is unaffected by reciprocity for even when I’m not giving in this relationship, the other party doesn’t stop.

The other party is God. I am a friend of God. Fancy that! “You, mere mortal, laying claims to a friendship with the Creator of the universe! How ambitious of you!” I hear you say. You wouldn’t be the first, even the angels expressed the same sentiment here.Yet I kid you not, it is true.

I’ll let Him tell you in His own words;

“You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do.  I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out). But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father. [I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him.]” John 15:14-15 (AMP)

I am so humbled that He befriended me in spite of my flaws, my imperfections, my struggles, my ineptitude. None of these things matter to Him. He loves me.

This friendship is not exclusive to me. It is available to anyone who would have Him. It has the capacity to embrace many yet remain as personal and as unique to each individual. He has sent out your personal invitation;

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” John 3:16 (AMP).

What’s your RSVP going to be? Give Him a try. He just wants to be friends with you.

While you study your invitation, here’s a song that reflects how I feel right now. Enjoy!

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