Posts Tagged ‘pray’

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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New Year’s Testimony

January 26, 2009

Since this is the beginning of the year, I thought I’d post this testimony to start off my blogs, since it has to do with New Year’s Resolutions. It also gives detailed info on pretty much who I was and who I am now. Feel free to comment on the testimony or any part of it in particular.

The Unforgettable Resolution

Most of my life, I lived only for myself. Even the good deeds I had done were mainly to make me feel good. My pride was in myself, and I thought little of the important things in life. In the recent years, I started to change my way of thinking, not on my own , but through the Holy Spirit. In the end of 2007, I made a New Year’s Resolution. I wanted to get more involved with Olive Branch Ministries. Little did I know that the Lord was guiding me to something big.

At the start of 2008, I began to go to prayer meetings at Olive Branch. It was a new experience for me, and I had to make this a habit if I wanted to keep my resolution. At first, I had to set my watch to remind me of the prayer meeting. I even missed maybe a couple of them, but now, I don’t need to worry about setting my watch anymore, because I made going to prayer meetings a habit. Being at the prayer meetings helped me in my prayer experience, as it has given me guidelines on how to pray and what to pray for.

March 2008, I was invited by my friend David to go to Bible Study with his friends. I was nervous, but I did agree to go, and even though I was unfamiliar with their Pentacostal form of worship, I learned to get used to it and soon got more involved. I eventually got more involved by going to Victory Fellowship and participated in Wednesday services. David helped me strengthen spiritually by showing me a Christian radio station: K-LOVE. At first, I switched between that and my other radio station, but after a couple of days, I set my car radio to K-LOVE and never went back. I began reading my Bible, as well, as a result of these experiences. Although I haven’t read the entire Bible yet, I am looking forward to getting there. Even so, it will take me more than one trip through the Bible for me to learn everything there is in it.

Being at Victory Fellowship, I’ve learned many things. I learned about tithing and speaking in tongues (although that I still am not yet able to do, but I want to do at some point), and I even developed a new way to greet other people: I use my right arm for a handshake, and I use my left arm for a hug. I have to admit, at first, hugging people other than ones in my family didn’t feel right at first, but now, I do it so naturally, now, and it feels really good. I started tithing in the summer of 2008 and have made it a habit since then. Raising my hands in worship also became a habit for me, and I love to do it to the Holy Ground Medley at Olive Branch, not just to express thanks to my Lord, but also to be “lifting up my holy hands, for the Lord is here, and where He is, is holy.” Today, I don’t go to Victory Fellowship much anymore, probably because of a prayer I made, one night. Up until then, I was tithing at Victory, and, going to two churches in one week, it meant that I am tithing at one church and not to the other. So, I prayed that the Lord would guide my tithing to Olive Branch Ministries. Well, I did not expect the results to be what they were. I started feeling alone, spiritually, when going to Victory Fellowship. It most likely have been because I wasn’t speaking in tongues while others were, or others were filled with the Holy Spirit at one moment, and I felt embarrassed, because I wasn’t feeling what they were feeling. I eventually just stopped going to Victory under the reason that I needed to make sure I slept a full night for work. However, my prayer was answered. I am tithing at Olive Branch ministries, just like I prayed for. I still miss going to Victory, though, since I have made many friends there.

Another major change happened online. I became a moderator of a message board in January, but in the increasing months, relationships with the other staff members seemed to quickly crumble, especially from dealing with topics of religious discussion. In March 2008, I left the staff and then the entire message board. I was done with them. I could not handle being around the other staff members anymore, and I wanted peace. Looking back on that decision today, I thought to myself where would I be had relationships not crumbled. Well, I would certainly be in a position of some importance, but I would not be close to the Lord. Also, I was hanging out with the wrong crowd. I was among those whose god is not my Lord, and with those who even went so far as to mock my Lord on a daily basis. In a way, I am claiming that being at that message board was stifling my relationship with the Lord. I do not claim this to be true for all Christians, just to myself. In July 2008, I sent a message to those I had the biggest grudges with and told them that I have forgiven them and that I thank them for leading me, if unintentionally, to this radical change in my life. To this day, I don’t regret making the decision to leave. Come to think of it, that moment seems to reflect Psalm 1 to an extent.

Because of 2008’s New Year’s Resolution, I have made a new New Year’s resolution: to have an even closer relationship with my Lord. This first Sunday of the year was a really great start for that, with the hymn “Thank You, Lord”, and Colossians 3. Today, I know what it is like to have Jesus as my Lord and my personal Savior. It is a very warm feeling. My bond with Him is a strong personal one. When I have a problem in my life, He is the first one I go to, and when something goes wrong, whenever a thought pops up in my head that tells me to blame my Lord, I curse that thought and banish it without thinking upon it, because I know in my heart that my Lord’s ways are perfect. He is the reason I have a close personal relationship with Him. He is the reason I now have a passion in life, a career that I will never steer away from. He is the reason that I do not hate myself, as the younger me once did. This year, I resolve to walk forward in Christ, that I may have experiences greater than the experiences in the year before.