Religion vs Relationship


It has taken me a long time to realize that the church is not the same as Jesus. Going to church is not the same as worship.

What I seek and what I want is a real relationship with God. This world can not provide me with all the answers and man-made leaders are not worthy. I seek to worship The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I want more.

It’s all up to me to make it happen. It’s all up to you too.

A crisis of Faith

I’m having a crisis of faith.

Not my faith in Jesus Christ, but my faith in organized religion. A consistent string of disappointments in church leadership, moral failings, combined with church politics have led me to the conclusion that a perfect church is not a reality in this world.

This strikes me as tragic considering how many denominations tout themselves as the one true church. The modern day church is deeply flawed by the interference of humanity who wants to impose their will and theology upon parishioners while behaving in a rather un-Christ-like manner.

I do not pretend to judge anyone but I do judge the church politic which has neglected to meet the mandates set out by Jesus to “Go Into The World” and preach. It is so disheartening. Power corrupts. Money corrupts. God is lost in the details of keeping the doors open.

My crisis is limited to the church but not to Jesus. My faith in Jesus Christ never wavers. It is the foundation of my soul and the one thing I am certain of in this worldly realm. Sadly, until Christ returns, I may be waiting on a home in which to worship.

Praying with the faithful at a little country church…


Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Daniel 9:17-18

My parents were faithful members of a country Baptist church. They believed in the power of prayer.

Every Wednesday night they attended a service with Bible study followed by the prayers and petitions of the faithful and sometimes not so faith-filled. There were no time limits. If you needed prayer, they stayed and prayed.

Some nights I sat there astonished at the requests. Yes, they prayed for someone’s boils and another’s warts, but they also prayed for life and death situations and believe me when I tell you…they prayed in earnest. Whether it was what we might consider trivial or life threatening, each prayer was met with sincerity and seriousness.

My Dad used to say, “Not all prayer requests are the same, but all requests are to be considered and lifted to the Lord.”

I like that way of thinking. Too often we believe that the trivial isn’t worth bringing to the Lord but in fact, everything is worth asking God’s help to resolve.

Bring your petitions to God and sit back and watch what happens. It might not be what you expected, but it will be more than you can imagine. I have seen the power of prayer at work.

A little country Baptist church remains faithful to God’s call and someone is comforted.

God is good…


Sometimes there are no answers…


This past week has been a hard one for people of faith.

In the one place you expect sanctuary, respite, and acceptance is the Church. This was not so in South Carolina.

Nine precious people were overwhelmed by extremist hatred and paid for it with their lives.

It doesn’t make sense. There are no answers. God did not cause this.

I do know this…

Hate will not win. Darkness is overcome by light. Love never dies and God still sits on His throne.

I look for a brighter and better tomorrow but I won’t forget the sacrifice of so many.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)

The Red Doors – Lent 4


I love a red church door.

In the more traditional religious denominations, a red church door was considered a symbol of entering into worship, into the presence of God, through the blood of Christ, the sacrificial lamb of God.

The church has historically been a place of refuge from the evils of the world both real and perceived. It remains so today.

I urge you to find your red doors. The church is not perfect but it is a place of peace and a refuge from the highs and lows of life. It is a place to share joy, peace and love. It is a place of reflection.

Most of all, through those red doors you will find God waiting to wrap you in love and spread His never-ending grace upon your weary soul.

Enter in…

Falling Back…

home-top-photo-st-marg-church_22I love fall. Just as I watch the sky darken, the leaves change into a variety of majestic colors and the earth prepare for frost, fall signals a time of reflection for the past year and an awareness of the coming Advent season.

In short, fall is my favorite time of the year.

Each Fall I travel to the Blue Ridge and I return to the beautiful mountaintop church where my daughter was married. It was the last time my entire family was together before losing my Mom to cancer. I take a moment to go inside and sit on the very pew I shared with my parents and thank God for loving memories. My favorite is when Dad held my hand as my daughter walked down the aisle to meet her groom. Dad gave me a gentle squeeze as he asked me if I was OK. It was a loving gesture and so typical of my Father.

When I sit in that pew, I can still feel his presence although Dad has since joined Mom and gone home to glory. It’s a great memory of a happy time. If my earthly father was so amazing, how much more wonderful will it be to meet my heavenly Father?

As the air turns crisp and the leaves begin to glide down to the ground, I am reminded of my continual growth and change as I work toward a more mature faith. There is so much sin to release and so much good to reflect upon. God’s grace is sufficient and He guides me like a falling leaf and catches me safely in His arms.

For another season, I soar in His love and I look forward for what is yet to come.

What’s in a name?


Elvis has left the building…

That is historically what promoters used to say at Elvis concerts to encourage fans to depart. Sadly, I think today we could say that about the modern church.

Have you noticed the proliferation of churches that have unusual titles? Cornerstone, Summit, and Fellowship styled names are replacing churches that have Christ. God, their chosen denomination or saints on the signage.

We are “branding” and marketing church but forgetting who started it all – no crosses, no hard reminders of a life well lived and a sacrifice made for all.

I do believe in sharing the good news but that means sharing the whole story of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The story to be shared may get messy but it has a great ending!

The “message” today is more about good news, prosperity and a rock star quality musical performance. They are bringing people in by the thousands.

I honestly don’t know what to make of this. I find it sad that the emphasis is on the experience while downplaying  the reality.

Is it me or has Jesus left the bulidng?

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
There’s just something about that Name.
Master, Savior, Jesus,
Like the fragrance after the rain.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Let all heaven and earth proclaim,
Kings and kingdoms will all pass away,
But there’s something about that Name.


Sunday is for sinners…


I am one of those people who really needs to go to church.

It is not that I think organized religion is a panacea for what ails you…it is my need to be accountable to God. Yes, I am a born-again sinner and in church I find myself surrounded by fellow fallen angels. This is as it should be. We are in the right place to begin again to set things to rights.

My Anglican/Baptist soul longs to be reminded “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). I’m just your run of the mill backsliding, commandment breaking and wicked sinner. That would be me. I don’t take glory in this, in fact, I want to be perfect. It is just that perfect is so hard to accomplish.

I find that church is the one place that this sinner feels welcomed unconditionally. God whispers to me and tells me to take a load off – he’ll take my sorry soul and work some heavenly magic. I believe this. I turn myself over and realize that no matter how many times I muck things up…God will gift me some much needed grace. Without that promise, I’m not sure what would happen to me.

I’m grateful for reminders. I’m grateful for God’s never-ending grace. I’m just plain grateful.

See you next Sunday.


Perfect Peace

sun clouds

Jesus stands among his disciples and says “Peace be with you.” He then repeats it a second time. An admonition for peace and then Jesus sends them out into the world. The church begins.

There are so many angles to this story but I keep coming back to peace. The early Christians endured great tribulation and yet I have to think that His words of peace kept ringing in their ears. Today, people of faith still suffer persecution and hatred. Peace is in short supply, that is to say, worldly peace.

I am not sure Jesus meant peace as in there will be no harm, hatred, war, or strife in this life. To me…it is perfect peace. A peace that passes all understanding.

It is the peace that comes from knowing Jesus and realizing that no matter what happens in this life, you will greet life knowing the peace of Christ.

It is hard to explain but it is glorious to experience.


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Crossed wires at the Cross…

telegraph pole

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8

We had the most unusual thing occur in church today. The wireless microphone system crossed wires with something or someone outside the church and for the longest and most annoying length of time, we heard a rather jarring conversation during the sermon and service.

As I watched the priests scramble frantically to find the offending noise, it dawned on me that this is exactly how things have been going for me lately.

I have not done my part to be still, pray and listen for God’s sweet voice in my ear. I have let the distractions of this world drag me down and disappoint me. I have not listened to the one person who can make my day better. I have been totally distracted.

Sin has a way of doing that. It takes me out of the present and away from God. I don’t like it but I find myself in that wasteland more than I care to admit.

The Dean finally explained that a movie crew was filming close-by and once alerted, changed frequencies so the service could continue uninterrupted. I think I heard an audible sigh of relief from all in attendance (no pun intended).

I ask God, here and now, to remind me to turn off distractions and turn to Him. Life is so much better when we don’t walk it alone.

What a relief.