Religion vs Relationship

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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

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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.

The Red Doors – Lent 4

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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…

Herding Black Sheep

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I think black sheep get a bad rap. Let’s be honest, we are all black sheep…there is not a spotless lamb among us. 

I become exasperated when I hear anyone say they don’t attend church because it is consumed by hypocrites, liars and thieves. That’s just an excuse. If anyone thinks the church is perfect and blameless then they are ignorant. Any church that claims to be so should be ashamed.

To be honest, the church isn’t the problem – I compare the modern church to a hospital for those who have the incurable illness we also call sin. This world won’t fix them – only God can do so. The church just puts a sturdy band-aid on the problem.

To dismiss organized religion under the excuse of avoiding sinners is the absolute height of hypocrisy. I don’t know about you…but the plank in my eye is so large and sin so great that I wouldn’t dare to condemn anyone else of wrong-doing. I’m working too hard on my own issues.

Church is exactly where sinners should be. A fellowship of believers who strive for “more” is a good thing. It’s where we belong. 

In this world, the church is a safe haven for sinners until we reach glory where we will be washed white as snow by the only One who remains blameless and free of sin.

The good Shepherd awaits.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6

Sorrow and Forgiveness

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

I harbor a hurt in my heart. I’m not sure how long it will take before it leaves but it is an ever present reminder of a sorrow that is hard to let go.

I learned many years ago that religious leaders aren’t perfect. You cannot count on them to never fail. But for a time, I had believed in my Pastor and it went wrong. It went really wrong.

I remember sitting in our church that had sustained me and comforted me through some of the most difficult and dark days of my life. Sunday services were my personal sanctuary. Sunday nights I turned everything over to God and just sat quietly as I tried to glean some words of comfort and grace through the service. For eight months one particular year as my Mother struggled with cancer, this was something I looked forward to and which kept me strong.

The church saved me in so many ways. Comfort came through the preaching, the concern, the serving, but especially the actual words spoken that seemed aimed directly at me in a room full of hurting and wounded souls.

Some people look back and realize that they did not appreciate this time. I remember clearly thinking that I could not believe how GREATLY blessed we were through our church leadership. We had something special. His messages were a gift from God…his failings were not.

Today, I am missing Pastor Isaac. I mourn his loss and I thank Jesus for one who tried and succeeded in reaching others for Christ. I wish he could have forgiven himself.

Jesus, watch over him for us.