Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

Dangers of the Religious Spirit

May 8, 2009

I understand that this blog’s title and possibly the blog itself is going to turn a few heads and may lead to quick judgment, but bear with me, here. I am not passing judgment on other Christians or anything of the sort. This is basically saying what is the factor for determining your status as a Christian. If you’ve read and understood the gospels, this should come across as nothing new.

Ok, first off, let me talk about how this got started. I’ve been suspecting that one of my friends may not really be a Christian as he claims to be. This got me nervous, because I hate being judgmental. I did, however, start praying that he will grow in relationship with the Lord and desire wisdom. However, this prayer cannot work if he does not have a relationship to start with. So, I never said anything about it to him until last Sunday, when he revealed to me the truth. He said he was technically agnostic, so I asked him if he basically chose a religion and stuck with it. It hurt to find the answer just after, as he said “yes”. That was when I told him, first in a roundabout way, then directly, that he isn’t yet a Christian. Then, he started lashing out at me some, because he thought I was being judgmental of his decisions and beliefs. A good friend of mine, who was with me at the time, also was angry at what I said. He thought that I was being judgmental on people’s stances on science, despite that I never used the term nor implied it in any way. I told him that being a Christian starts with basically, “Yes, Jesus. I am a sinner. Please, be my personal Savior.” However, I do not know if he understood.

Now, I want to talk about Jesus’ death on Calvary. There were two others next to Jesus: one was a murderer, and one was a thief. The murderer mocked Jesus in a similar way as the people around the cross did. However, the thief realized his actions and believed in his heart that Jesus truly saved people from their sins. So, he said to Him, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Now, this man had spent his life robbing from others. He didn’t spend his Sundays in the Temple. He didn’t give his possessions (not the possessions he stole, but his own possessions, if any) to those in need. He didn’t say the Lord’s Prayer 100 times, or anything. He didn’t get baptized. He was, without a doubt, a sinner. Jesus spoke to this thief. “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

Let me lay down the bare facts on salvation. First off, going to church does not make you a Christian. You could go to church all of your life, but it will not make you a Christian. Don’t get me wrong on church. I love it. I would not miss my church time even if there was a video game I would badly desire to buy that day. I love enjoying fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I love to worship my Lord. However, those things did not get me saved.

I have my own beliefs regarding political issues and stuff. We all do. And most, if not all of them, are different. I don’t wish to talk about them, because politics is my least favorite subject to talk about, ever. However, my beliefs on certain stuff do not save me, nor do they condemn me.

I love to give. I made sure I give my 10% worth (and a little extra) each week. One time, I was about to drive from work to lunch, and a man came up to me, because he did not have any bus money. However, I made sure I gave him more than he needed, because he may have needed that money some time in the future. That did not get me saved, however.

“For it is by grace you are saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
Isaiah 64:6

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:23

It is not by doing certain works or by believing certain things that gets us saved. It is when we allow Jesus to be our personal Savior. We realize and admit that we are sinners and that only through Jesus can we be saved from those sins.

Be careful! The religious spirit that makes us think that we are Christians solely by the works we do is deceiving. To believe that spirit is a dangerous mistake! It gives us a false sense of security and brings another evil into the mix: pride. It hardens our hearts and keeps us from following God’s Will for our lives. Also, to those who are already Christians: make sure that your heart is in the right direction when you do acts of kindness. These acts of kindness are your faith being put into action, and they are for God’s glory. Before I go on, I want to admit something. Whenever I give my 10% to the Lord each day, I make sure not to get tempted to say how much I put in, for fear of pride. My Lord does not want me to give my tithe in a prideful manner. It is not about “Ok, I want to make sure I remain the person who gives the most money to the church.” I treat it as a physical way of saying, “Thank you for this awesome relationship. Continue to guide me ever closer to You.” Anyway, moving on. The best way to remove the religious spirit from you is to pray to the Lord and ask Him to point to you what actions you are doing is religious rather than as reverence to Him.

One more thing I want to point out. I have mentioned earlier that I have been attempting to read the entire Bible. I have to admit, that was definitely a religious action in my life within the past year, along with prayer. I wanted to make sure I read my Bible and pray for at least a half an hour every night. When I stopped doing both for a while, I thought I hit a dry spell, so to speak. Recently, I learned that these acts are religious, because I was trying to make sure I did those things each day, to make myself feel good. However, even though I do not read the Bible each day, nor do I pray every night, at least when I do, I know I am doing them for the right reasons. I read my Bible so that I can learn more about Him and gain wisdom, as well as learn about the lives of those who followed the Lord long before me. When I pray, it is when I truly desire to speak to Him, especially when I have something that I really want to talk about. So, I thank the Lord for those dry spells, that He used them to bring me closer to Him.

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Top 10 Reasons to Go to Church

March 9, 2009

Since FoxNews isn’t letting my post show up. (The filter almost never lets my posts go through, especially if they are well thought-out.) So, I decided to post my top 10 reasons here to link to them later.

I gotta say, though, I usually don’t go out of my way to make blogs like these just to put on a news forum, but I find this reply to be quite special, especially since it does indeed involve a testimony. So, I’m going to keep this up, since I really enjoy re-reading it.

Article: http://foxforum.blogs.foxnews.com/2009/03/08/shuler_church/

Reply for FoxNews.com:

Oh, first of all, if you believe that man is made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), if God didn’t have a sense of humor, we would not be able to laugh.

Also, I personally laughed a lot at number 5.

1) Fellowship with the Lord. You can pray anywhere, but nothing beats a place that is set apart for worship when it comes to praying.

2) Fellowship with others. You’re not going to enjoy church much if you don’t talk to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Not only do you earn friends of priceless value, you will also grow in your spiritual relationship.

3) Wisdom and guidance. All of us face trials and hardships, one way or another. By talking to your pastor and your brothers and sisters in Christ about your trials, they will always be supportive, whether it is by testimony, prayer, or anything else.

4) The epistles. Most reading you hear come from the epistles of the New Testament. These are chock-full of wisdom and good advice, and as a bonus, you may get a sermon that discusses the reading in-depth, to help clarify the message.

5) Youth groups. In some churches, teens and young adults can get together for worship. The result is a stronger spiritual relationship and a chance to make friends your age.

6) Worship music: If you go to, say, a Pentacostal church, you may experience a more modern form of worship, such as with electric guitars and drum sets. Well, the one I went to had that, and I loved it. No idea what modern worship is like? Check out Mercy Me, Toby Mac, or Newsboys.

7) Church activities. Some churches get involved in the field. One church I went to had what was called “Feed the Multitudes”, a special picnic that everyone is welcome to eay, play games, and listen to music, while the Good News is spread throughout the picnic.

8) Bible study. Interested in going even deeper into the Bible? Ask about Bible Studies. Groups can get together to learn more about God’s Word and enjoy food and fellowship in the process.

9) Tithing. Although I won’t get deep into tithing, I will suggest a verse: 2 Corinthians 9:6. Do not hesitate to put a tenth of your week’s earnings in the bucket. The money may be used for the church building, special activities, food for the hungry, etc. Keep this verse in mind when you give your tithe. The Lord rewards those who put their hearts into their tithing.

10) Your overall growth. The difference between choosing to go to church and choosing not to go may be as small as not getting spiritually nourished or as big as your own life. Why I say that is because in times like these, depression is not just found in the economy. People need a beacon of hope when life’s greater trials hit. I, myself, can say that if it weren’t for church, I may not be living today, because I hated my life before I learned the joy of knowing the Lord. Where I saw weakness and failure in myself, my Lord saw strength and success, and it is evident today by my current job as a teacher and by my testimonies. Of course, it was not by my strength alone. The Holy Spirit guided me to this life I now love.

God bless you always.

Powers of the Tongue

February 6, 2009

Well, I was reading my Bible, one night, and one story just inspired me to make this blog. Of course, many of us know the story of Balaam and his donkey. Well, that is not the story I want to focus on. As a matter of fact, I am focusing on what Balaam does after the whole talking donkey scenario, because, to me, this is just too awesome not to be talked about.

First of all, allow me to give you the location of the story: Numbers 23-24. In this story, Balak fears the army of Israel and commands Balaam to speak curses over them, so that he may be able to defeat them and expel them from his land. Ok, skipping the donkey scenario, Balaam is with Balak, and they are up on this high cliff overlooking a portion of the army of Israel. Now, Balaam’s job may have been a priest, because Balak acknowledges Balaam’s power to speak blessings and curses. From reading the story, however, Balak doesn’t seem to know that Balaam is the servant of the Lord. So, after the preparation of the seven altars and their sacrifices, he says his first oracle. However, this not a curse he spoke. Rather, it was a blessing. Balak is obviously not pleased with this oracle, so he leads Balaam to a second spot. Balaam does his preparations, he speaks the second oracle, again a blessing. Balak is pretty annoyed at this point, so he wants Balaam to stop speaking blessings, since it has dawned on him that he’s not getting his curses. So, Balaam and Barak went to a third location. Balaam did his preparations again, except for one thing. He did not meet with the Lord prior to the oracle, because he knew the Lord was pleased with the blessings. So, Balaam does another oracle, again blessing them. Now, Balak has pretty much lost his temper, and he wants Balaam to leave, because he isn’t getting those curses he wants. Well, Balaam delivers a final oracle. This time, it was not just another blessing to Israel, but a curse to the kingdom of Moab, itself. Today, Moab no longer exists as a country, but is now part of the country of Jordan. It is not mentioned in the Bible how the Moabites lost their country and their identity at the hands of prophecy, but it can be assumed that they were conquered and then dispersed by another country. This webpage has more info on Moab and its history.

Anyway, back to the focus of the blog. The tongue has the power to bless and the power to curse. You may have heard the phrase: “loose lips sink ships.” Although the phrase meant making sure not to say anything that may be used as information for enemy spies during World War II, the same phrase may be spoken, though in slightly different context, about the power to bless and the power to curse. Let’s take a look at one of the more immediate effects of curses. Let’s read Mark 11:12-14 and 20-25. Jesus leaves Bethany and, like all of us, gets hungry. He goes to a fig tree to look for figs. Now, take note: the fig tree is not in its season for bearing fruit. Jesus, having seen that there are no figs on that tree, curses the tree. Now, I bet you are wondering: “Well, it’s not in season. Why curse the fig tree?” According to this webpage, the fig tree’s leaves grow after the figs. So, since it produced no figs, yet, it produced leaves, Jesus cursed the fig tree. Anyway, getting back on track, the apostles later find the fig tree withered from its roots. Jesus then mentions the power of the tongue through faith in God.

James understood the power of the tongue when he wrote his letter. He gives us a warning of the consequences of an untamed tongue. He calls the untamed tongue a “restless evil, full of deadly poison.” With this in mind, we should train ourselves to speak good things to ourselves and to others. We should also learn to keep our cool, whenever we are in a situation that gives us a lot of stress, or else we may say things that we will later regret saying. Two proverbs also mention the power of the tongue. Proverbs 12:18 not only mentions the sword-like feature of the cursing tongue, but also notes the healing powers of the tongue that blesses. Proverbs 18:21 says that the tongue even has powers of life and death. It also gives a warning in the second line: “those who love it will eat of its fruit.” Basically, this is an instance of reaping what we sow. If we sow seeds of curses, we reap the fruit of that curse. On the flip side, if we sow seeds of blessings, we reap blessings in return. Let’s not waste an opportunity to bless others, for we may be rewarded with blessings in the future.