Easter Sunday

     I admit it. I went to church this morning jaded but desperate. I have long been used to “Easter Sermons”. You know the ones; “Jesus died on the cross for your sins, rose again, accept Jesus as you Savior.” Now, there is NOTHING wrong with those kinds of sermons, those are needed and necessary. I was just desperate to hear something new. I went to church this morning and felt the shackles fall off. It was an amazing feeling.

   I have long believed a lie. The lie that I somehow had to “maintain” my salvation. That my relationship with Jesus was based on how much I read my bible, prayed, how many hours of worship music I listened to every week, and whether or not I felt “close” to Jesus.   That lie was shattered this morning when I heard my pastor say “Jesus maintains the relationship. He did the work on the cross. It isn’t about your perception or how you feel. It is about reading your bible, praying, because you LOVE him.” Mind blown. WHAT!? I thought I HAD to do all this “stuff”, and when I didn’t Jesus and I weren’t close. LIE.

               Salvation is utterly dependent on what Jesus did on the cross. It was grace given I didn’t earn, and mercy extended that I didn’t deserve.   The work of salvation was completed when Jesus died and rose again; anything I do or don’t do doesn’t add or take away from that. He doesn’t change. My feelings ebb and flow. I am human I fail miserably and often. It doesn’t matter because he is unchanging, constant in his steadfast love and righteousness (see Jeremiah 9:24).

                 Realizing this today was FREEDOM!! Now, I have a choice. I do things for my husband out of love for him not because I feel some sense of obligation as a wife. I talk to him because I want to know him better. It is after all thru communication that our hearts become intertwined into one.  So it is with my relationship with Jesus. I can talk to him, read his words to me, no longer because I feel a sense of obligation, or because I feel like it is necessary to maintain my salvation. No. I can do those things simply because I love him, and I want my heart to be intertwined with his heart. And on those days when I don’t “feel” close to him? I understand now that is ok. It doesn’t change my salvation or take away from it. There are days I don’t “feel” as close to my husband either, but the fact we are still married and very much in love remains. So it is with my salvation. It remains.

   I left church no longer jaded and with a much lighter heart. That is what Easter Sunday is all about, freedom, and a new life. I hope you find it.

   “ Oh precious is the blood…..”        

******  For the podcast of Easter Sunday’s sermon please visit  lifepointchurch.com , it usually posted by mid week!

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April 20, 2014. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Me, Religion, and Jesus

   Last week something was said to me that gave me pause. I was told I would not have been liked due to my being religious.   I’m not sure how this person defines religion, but I know how I define it and I am not religious. Do I believe in God and Jesus? Absolutely. That doesn’t make me religious. Allow me to explain.                

   I would define religion as following a list of “can”, “cannot”, “should”, and “should not”.   Let me be clear, I understand the Ten Commandments are exactly what I just described.    I agree those commandments should be followed, as does most laws and governments. Religion goes beyond those commandments. It tells you how to dress, what your beliefs are, what you cannot eat, how to pray the “right way”, and tells you not to question what you are told. The list of rules to be followed is endless. Religion keeps you bound, and allows you to hide behind excuses. Religion is life lived from a sense of obligation rather than of love. It prevents true relationship with Jesus because it is a mask that is put on. It keeps you from being real and honest about life and faith.

           I used to be religious. I have felt the shame of committing yet another sin, and the guilt of missing church. I have questioned whether my prayers were good enough, and if I was even praying in the right manner. I believed the lie that if I didn’t pray perfectly my prayers wouldn’t be heard nor answered. Religion left me confused, frustrated, and wanting.  Because of religion I walked away from church for a good long while. I was tired of the game.

             I have since discovered a life changing truth. Jesus wasn’t religious. Jesus went against everything that was religious. Jesus was real, and he had an honest relationship with his heavenly father. It was a relationship of mutual love, not obligation.  He was emotional and expressed those emotions. He asked if it was God’s will to let the pain of the cross pass from him, and then willingly endured it. He had friends, and knew what it was to be both loved and rejected. He slept, ate, partied (the wedding at Canaan), and drank wine. He ministered to those in need. He didn’t judge, he took people as they were and loved them in spite of their frailty. He lived an authentic, honest, no mask life.  That’s relationship.

               I am thru with religion. I desire to be like Jesus. And that means I pursue relationship. Notice the word “real” can be extrapolated from “relationship”. If I want a relationship with Jesus I have to be real.   I can take him my questions, my fears, my hopes, my dreams. I can love and care for others without abandon because he takes care of me. I no longer feel the weight of shame and guilt over missing church or yet another sin. I am human and a work in progress. I accept the forgiveness offered to me, and do my best to change my ways. I do this not because I feel obligated, but because I love Jesus and want to be more like him.   That is why Jesus died on the cross- not so we would feel obligated to him and follow a list of rules. No. He came so we can enjoy the freedom of a relationship with him. That relationship with him frees us and allows us to become the best versions of our true self.

   If I would have been disliked because I love Jesus and pursue relationship with him?  Then I am absolutely ok with that.   Because that isn’t religious- Jesus wasn’t and I won’t be either

March 27, 2014. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Habakkuk Looks Back

    We are always told not to look back.  To keep our eyes forward because looking back can only hamper our progress; make us yearn for what was instead of what is to be.  I agree, but there are exceptions to every “rule”.   There are times looking back is essential in order for us to face what is ahead.

          God had just finished giving the prophecy of what was to come to Habakkuk.  I can’t imagine the weight of the burden he was carrying. The answer was hard, and suffering was coming.  If I were Habakkuk I probably would have cowered in worry, wondering how I was going to survive.  Habakkuk did no such thing.  He started looking back.   Habakkuk began singing a song of praise about all the things God had delivered his people from.  He spoke of many things including the deliverance from Egypt and when God helped Gideon defeat the Midianites. These were stories Habakkuk had heard because they had been handed down thru the generations.    The bible doesn’t tell us, but I imagine Habakkuk praised God for some things God had done in his own life as well.    I believe nothing would have brought more comfort to Habakkuk’s heart than remembering what God had done for him personally.  Habakkuk stood there in awe of all God’s deeds.

     There have been many times in my own journey that I can only move forward by looking back.     Not only have I looked at the difficult things God has brought me through but I have remembered stories told to me of difficult things God has brought family or friends through.   In those moments I have felt that I haven’t had any strength, faith, or courage left to move on.  But when I look back? I have managed to take a deep breath and forge ahead. 

    Want to move forward? Take a look, just a look, back. 

Scripture reference:  Habakkuk 3: 1-16

March 6, 2014. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.