But Lord, I don’t want to quit church!

Have you ever been fully devoted to your religion?  Did you love going to church, mass, mosque or to temple?  Were you in love with the personal elevation that your commitment provided?

Did God begin to tug at your heart and say, “Let it go”?

And then did you reply as did Peter, “Not so, Lord!”?  . . . But eventually you surrendered to Him?

If you once depended on the acceptance that you received from others at church, and the purpose that your obedience to your religion gave you, and if you have walked away . . .  then you are a rare specimen whom I’d like to meet (leave a comment below!), just like Suzette once did.

Suzette left a comment on one of my blog posts this summer, and from there an email correspondence began.  Two weeks later, in August 2017, despite the fact that our homes are 1,200 miles apart, we were able to meet in person!  While traveling to a family wedding, my three teenagers and I needed to wait around the Sacramento airport for a few hours before my husband’s arrival.  Turns out it was Suzette’s day off of work.  As my kids sat and stared at their phones, I got to meet my new sister in Christ and fellowship with her amidst all the Baggage Claim carousels.  🙂

Despite the groovy God-oincidence that allowed us to meet face-to-face, what has actually bonded our friendship is our shared experience with being die-hard legalists.

We didn’t burn out, we were pulled out of Church by God’s direction.

Having been set free for ten years now, I have come to realize that people like Suzette and I are unique.  It seems that most people tire of their Churchianity slowly, like the fire from a candle that has been burning for hours and slowly extinguishes itself.

Suzette and I, on the other hand, were more like a firework that was sparkling and alive one minute, and then completely gone the next.  As a Bible Study leader once told me, “Oh!  You were a modern-day-Pharisee.  That’s pretty rare!”

Of course, that wasn’t true.  Nobody has ever come close to the ambitious zeal of the Pharisees.

“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  (Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 5:20)

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that Suzette and I loved church.  Why?  It gave us an outlet for our religious pride!

We loved how much “better” we were compared to those lesser folks who didn’t work as hard.  We loved how good we were at obeying all of the rules.  We loved how important we were in the eyes of others.  We were convinced that we were “serving God,” and we loved that!  It’s gross, isn’t it!?  That is what the sin of religious pride feels like, and it sickens me to remember those times.  Obvioulsy we were totally deceived and in error, but nonetheless, the fact remains:  church energized us.

If you are in the same boat, and if God is tugging at your heart to quit church . . . please follow His leading.  Don’t be afraid.  If the Lord is leading you that way, say, Yes, Lord!

Jesus wants to set you free from the bondage of religion.  He wants to be your God, instead of church being your god.  Trust Him!  You won’t be disappointed.

You will no longer be wandering in the wilderness of Sinai; He will bring you into the New Covenant.  He will lead you right through the door which is Jesus Christ Himself, and He will plant you by the green pastures and still waters of the Promised Land of Rest.

Allow your legalism to kill you.  Whether it’s the rules of your denomination or the 613 Mosaic Laws themselves, allow the Law to kill you.

Paul said, “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.” Galatians 2:19

Believe the truth that you are completely forgiven, and that He now loves and accepts you on the basis of you being a new creation in Christ.

Allow the Law to kill you so that you might die to the Law and begin living in a close relationship with your God, the Lord Jesus Christ.  And if you’d like to hear more on this topic, please check out my blog:  Outside of Churchianity.

 

October 13, 2017

Did God create sin and evil?

Did God create sin and evil?

A homeschooled teenage girl asked me this question last week:  she basically said, “I would never want to say that God is at fault for all of the sin and evil in the world, yet as the Creator of this world, why isn’t He the One to blame?” 

I was the substitute teacher in her Government class (part of a large homeschool co-op.)  I wanted to begin the class with a discussion before I played the DVD that the teacher had provided for me.  I began by asking the teens…

“What is government?”  “And why do we need to be governed?”  “What is wrong with us humans anyway?  Animals don’t need to be governed!”

We never got to the DVD.  Instead, we spent the hour in discussion.  Teenagers have a lot of questions!  And, I have found that with a correct understanding of the gospel, all of our questions can be answered.

Why is God doing things this way?  Simply put, He is doing things this way, because the end result will be an eternity of love and communion spent with His dearly beloved children.  He is doing things this way, because He has made us so much greater than the animals and even all of the angelic host; He will know us and we will know Him.  What He has done is that He has made us his FRIENDS.

– – –  and just pause for a minute to consider being best friends with the One who made 150 billion galaxies –  –  –

The discussion I had with those teenagers that day kept returning to the question of evil.  They want to know why — WHY! — is there sin and evil in this world?  First, you must consider the unique design of Adam and Eve.  God made them alive.  He breathed life into them.   He gave them “the breath of life.”  He created the animals to also contain the “breath of life,” but it is a totally different set of Hebrew words compared with the Genesis 2:7 “breath of life” that the first man and woman received.

Second, you must acknowledge that the life that was contained within the breast of Adam and Eve was the very life of God Himself.  Since Adam and Eve were created to contain the Spirit of God within their body (Genesis 2:7), they had the capacity to have a close, personal, deep friendship with their God.

And, third, you must realize that ‘the law of sin and death’ caused Adam and Eve to die when they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  When they died, when their life was lost – through their sin and unbelief – they were no longer able to live according to their unique design.  From then on, mankind became capable of committing tremendous evil.

Think about it, Cain murdered his brother Able.  Yikes!  Talk about starting things off on the wrong foot.

That first murder reveals that humanity was no longer able to function in the way that we were designed.  By Genesis chapter 6, about a 1,000 years after creation….

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  Genesis 6:5

Because after Adam and Eve sinned and died, every child of theirs was born in the image of Adam:  sinful and dead (Genesis 5:3).  Unlike Adam and Eve, humans are no longer born “in the image of God.”  We are born in the image of death, of emptiness, of sinfulness.

Why did God allow this to happen?  Why did He create a world where evil could exist?

Could He not have done things differently?

Well, yeah, but that would require us to be made like the animals.

Animals are perfect because they are governed by instinct.  God wanted us to be His friends; animals, however, do not have the capacity to be friends with a holy God who dwells in unapproachable light.  He wants to be with us, to be near us, to be as close to us as our very breath.

Since the day of Pentecost – since the day that the Holy Spirit was given back to believers – we do have the capacity to fellowship and interact with the holy God who dwells in unapproachable light . . . because when we believe in the gospel, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside of us.  Born sinful, dead and empty, we become forgiven, alive and filled!

And even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he nevertheless made you alive with him, having forgiven all your transgressions. Colossians 2:13 (NET Bible)

He has made His home within our bodies.  We are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  We are the Bride of Christ.  We are His beloved.

Sin, suffering and evil exist because men refuse to trust God; they rely on themselves instead.  Men refuse to believe in the gospel; they would rather believe in lies and fantasies.  Sin, suffering and evil exist because, without the Spirit of God dwelling inside of us, we are all dysfunctional.

To explore this topic more and learn why humans are so inclined towards sin and evil, check out these 27-minute audio messages by Aaron Budjen: The Lamp of God and The Image of God.

 

September 21, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you put God first?

If we’re honest, none of us puts God first.  I personally think all of us are so self-absorbed that we mainly think about ourselves.  If you don’t agree with me, just please think about it for a day.  Be brutally honest with yourself and see who you love with all of your heart, all of your mind and all of your strength?  God or yourself?

As born-again believers, we hate this about ourselves.  We want to love God.  We know we should love God.  We want to make God #1 in our lives.  But we fail.

I love this quote by my pastor (who is mainly my pastor through his radio ministry; I do attend his church, but only once a month.)  Anyway, here’s the quote:

“Jesus does not want you to reserve time for Him; that’s not what He wants. What He wants is for you to take Him with you into your time.”

(Aaron Budjen; Radio Archive; “First Place in your Life.”)

If you are interested, here is the link to the 27-minute radio program.

 

 

July 8, 2017