Tag Archives: redemption

Spiritual but not religious

Panorama Z

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” 1 Tim. 4:1 NKV

“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day (The Day of The Lord) will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the. Son of perdition.” 2 Thess. 2:3 NKJV

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” 1 John 4 NKJV

I came across an article recently which discussed the findings of a survey done by the Public Religion Research Institute. The survey of some 2000 Americans performed in early 2017 found that 18 percent identified as “spiritual but not religious” and that their beliefs “transcends stereotypical religious identity.” The article sited several participants whose ideas about their traditional religious upbringings led them to find their own way of being in connection or feeling one with some “higher power.” Threw the use of yoga, arts, filling their apartment with plants, meditation and finding ways to have lifestyle choices accepted by “more progressive denominations” these “new faith” believers make peace with themselves in a world of traditional religious establishments.

Now, before I come across as some narrow minded self righteous fool let me give you some background. I was raised Catholic and went threw the sacraments. I was obedient to follow the traditions and rituals of the church as taught to me and in doing so felt empty and uninspired. I have also sinned. I have fallen away and done things “that I wouldn’t want printed on the front page of The New York Times” (as my Grandmother would say). I have denounced traditional religious sects and their empty rituals. At my worst I have raised a clinched fist skyward and declared in my folly that there is no God. I’m not proud of any of that but facts are facts and the Lord saw me threw it all. I ask that you keep all of this in mind as I discuss the article please.

If we look at this survey and the beliefs of its participants who are finding their own new way in the light of scripture we see that they are being deceived. It’s not their fault. Some organized religious groups fail to inspire it’s people. Some will compromise the basic principles of the Word of God in order to fill the seats or be politically correct.

Jesus was never politically correct or a supporter of the empty religious groups in His day. Even though the rituals and religious leaders were established by God Himself over the many years they leaders became proud and the reasons for the rituals blurred into history until they were just going threw the motions. Jesus called them out on their hypocrisy even when they tried to trap him. When the religious men brought the adulterous woman before Jesus they said that she was caught in the very act. Really?! So, these guys busted in on a man and woman (presumably one or both of them married) in the act of making love. In an attempt to test Jesus they dragged the woman before Him but the Law clearly states that BOTH the man and the woman are to be stoned to death for the sin of adultery. As we know Jesus didn’t fall for their trap and He did not condemn the woman. He showed mercy to the woman and simple told her to “go and sin no more.” See John 8:3-12 and Lev 20:10

Jesus turned over the tables at the Temple and criticized the establishment. He ate and kept company with the outcasts, sinners and tax collectors. Jesus did not look like, talk like or behave like the leaders of His time and that got Him both admired and despised. What He did do was affect people. In His short ministry He taught, healed, fed, and raised the dead. He fulfilled the scriptures concerning His birth, life, death and resurrection. He fulfilled the Law and in doing so made a way for all the world to be free from sin and hell. He will meet each and every one of us right where we are and share His love and bring new life. What He will NOT do is barge in on anyone to take them captives or seduce them with goosebumps and warm feelings.

The devil does that. The devil tempts and teases. He sees our pain and our longings and plays on our weaknesses. Jesus called him the Father of lies. The Deceiver. The Lion who seeks to devour.

It’s been said that the greatest accomplishment of the Devil is convincing people that he doesn’t exist. Even as I write this I know that many good churchgoing people will roll their eyes at the mention of the devil. After all isn’t he an imaginary foe created to be blamed for what is simply the behavior of bad people? Isn’t the dark side of our own human nature the real devil?

The answer is a firm “No!” Jesus was tempted by the devil. He spoke clearly of the devil. The Holy Spirit through the Apostles spoke of the devil many times.

Before I stray much farther from my point I will stop. Whether or not you believe in the Devil isn’t the point. The point is that there are deceiving spirits in the world. Always have been but the devil knows his time is short. The participants of the survey taken are looking for answers and fulfillment that they didn’t find within the walls of ritualistic stereotypical religion. They crave, everyone craves, the very real relationship with Jesus. They crave it because there’s a cross-shaped hole in everyone’s heart that only He can fill. It’s and old saying but true.

Lastly, the biggest take away from this post and that survey is that we don’t have time to be judgmental or self righteous. People need the Lord. People need to hear the good news. People need the Lord. Not religion. Not rituals. Not spirituality. People need a relationship with the Lord of all Creation and the Good News is Jesus stands at the door and knocks.

All of us who truly believe have an obligation to share the compassion and love of Christ with all the world. The rest is up to Him.

Be Blessed A&B

This is the link to the article I mentioned https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/11/10/16630178/study-spiritual-but-not-religious

The Lord Reigns!!!

The Lord Reigns

The Lord Reigns

The Lord Reigns!!

 

Regardless of what we think

The Lord Reigns!

Regardless of what we see

The Lord Reigns

Regardless of what we feel

The Lord Reigns

Regardless of the nations on earth

The Lord Reigns

Regardless of the troubles we face

The Lord Reigns

The Lord Reigns

and He will be magnified in all the earth

and will show His love to you

No matter whatever you may be going threw today please take refuge under His wings and know that He reigns over all the earth and He will save you because He loves you.

I do not know this man !!!!!

A little later others standing around the fire began saying to Peter, “You are, too, one of them, for you are from Galilee!” He began to curse and swear. “I don’t even know this fellow you are talking about,” he said. And immediately the rooster crowed the second time.Suddenly Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.”

And he began to cry.

Mark 14-70-72 Living Bible

Peter, Peter, Peter. Poor Simon Peter. The disciple who walked on water with Jesus and swore to keep Jesus from harm. The one who heard from Heaven that Jesus was the Son of God. It was Peter (along with his brother Andrew) who were the first to drop everything in a moments notice to follow Jesus. Now he is the one who denied Him three times – just as Jesus told him he would.

Peter reminds me a little of myself. I can tend to speak first without thinking. My enthusiasm can get me into trouble at times and like Peter, I lack a filter too often. Peter is almost child-like in his wide-eyed wonder of the world around him. With Jesus, James and John upon the mount of Transfiguration it was Peter who stepped forward with the idea of building memorials to Jesus, Moses and Elias.  But this spontaneous life-loving attitude of Peter will be used greatly in the Kingdom of God.

After 3 1/2 years of traveling with Jesus and suffering from foot-in-mouth-disease and after outright swearing that he doesn’t know Jesus, it is Peter who will stand up in public and preach the first sermon about the deity of Jesus and win 3 thousand souls to the kingdom.

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Peter’s denial of Jesus must have been a very dark time in his life. But having seen the resurrected Lord and being so lovingly forgiven Peter was free to return to his enthusiastic old self – only stronger.

Do not discount the gifts God has placed inside of you. If you see yourself as clumsy, awkward, uncertain or boisterous – just go for it! Be all that you are to the Glory of God. It is your destiny. It’s what you were made to do.

So if anyone asks you if you know Jesus don’t hold back. Stand up and tell them all about Him because He has your back.

Be blessed, Al

If You Love Something…..

If you love something set it free
and if it comes back to you its yours
and if it doesn’t it was never was.

For decades this poem, or some version of it, has been set to music, printed on posters and repeated as sage advise to the love lorn youth.

But the truth is the concept behind this montra is much older. Its as old as time itself and continues to this very moment. That’s because the concept of setting something, or someone really, free to go and live their life and hope that they come back to you frist started with God.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.  Jeremiah 1:5 NKJV

That’s a statement to consider.

Taken at face value it says that we all came from God before we came from mommy! The question is will we go back? Just like the poem says – if you love something set it free. God has done just that. He loves us and He set us free. Free to make our own choice as to whether or not we will return to Him or go our own way. Free to believe in Him and His love for us. Free to trust in Him or to venture off on our own.

In this culture of being “green” why not consider the ultimate act of recycling and ….

RECYCLE YOURSELF BY TURNING TO HIM WHO REDEEMED YOU ON CALVARY’S CROSS

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Blood Moon Rising

Tonight, or early morning tomorrow, depending on where you are on the planet, there will be a lunar eclipse which will produce a “Blood Moon”. While some have used this phenomenon as an occasion for speculation regarding the end of days I am reminded of the Y2K worries that captivated our thoughts not so long ago. The turning of time from 1999 to 2000 was heralded as a cataclysmic moment. It was feared that the computers that we all have become so dependent on would shut down causing business collapse and hysteria. Thankfully these things did not happen. Life went on without a hick up.

Now, with much less fanfare, there are whispers on the news and internet that this Blood Moon is a sign from God signalling the beginning of the end!! Well, like Y2K, time will tell if these fears are founded or not. But the bigger question is – So What? So, if it is the beginning of the end what can we, or more importantly – YOU, do about it?! If we all hold our breath at the same time can we hold back the hand of God? If we stay up tonight fearfully clinging to the people and things we love will God have compassion on us and change His mind? Obviously the answer to these questions is NO! There is nothing that we as mere mortals can do to put off what God has determined to be. That is, if this is the beginning of the end. If it’s not we will wake up tomorrow and face the day ahead just as we did this morning and yesterday and the day before that. This Blood Moon will disappear in our rear view mirror as we forge on ahead unaffected by its passing.

Red Sun 3

Unless, of course, we use this natural cosmic event as a reminder of our helplessness to defend ourselves from things so massively bigger then us. We could also use this event as a cause for reflection and soul searching. What if the end were coming? Are we ready? Are you ready? Am I ready? There are more prophecies concerning the end of days ahead than the birth of Christ (which all were fulfilled to the T). Christ told us Himself that a day is coming when the world as we know it will be changed. So, if the evening news dedicates a 90 second spot to the Red Moon tonight, listen and ask yourself – “What if?” or “Am I ready?” I hope and pray that we all are ready when that day comes no matter when that should be. Be Blessed – Al

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Ps. 19:1 NIV

Ashes to Ashes

Ash Wednesday 2014 to millions (or more) Christians today mark the beginning of Lent

  Wikipedia says – Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a celebration and reminder of human mortality, and as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, alms giving, atonement and self-denial. Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the tradition and events of the New Testament beginning on Friday of Sorrows, further climaxing on Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday, which ultimately culminates in the joyful celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

OK, So we have 6 weeks of prayer, penance, repentance of sins, alms giving, atonement and self-denial.

   I have two problems with this concept. The first is the obvious one – just six weeks? What about the other 46 weeks? But I think it’s a given that we should be a witness of God’s love all year long so I’ll leave that there – for now. Likewise, prayer, repentance of sins, alms giving and self-denial (also referred to as self-control) are all good things for a true believer to do year round. But, its the reason that these things are done that align them with the misguided concept of penance and atonement. I am not saying that millions of people are wrong for following their hearts during these next 6 weeks. I am saying that the goals or ideals of such an exercise is not Biblical and misleading. Unfortunately, the evidence of this misguided adventure is heralded at the end of it all – Jesus Christs’ trial, death and resurrection!!

 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:But this man (Jesus Christ), after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Heb 10:11-22 KJV

after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God vs 12

   Jesus carried out the ultimate “self-denial” by suffering and dieing on the cross that WE deserved to be put upon. Furthermore, having done this He put an end to the sacrifices of the Temple and the old way –Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.  Heb 9:12 KJV. The veil of separation in the Temple was ripped in two down the middle from top to bottom when He died on that cross signifying the end of the old and the beginning of the new. As if that wasn’t enough – Jesus’ own last words from the cross should quiet the debate – It is finished. John 19:30 KJV

Still, Paul addresses this –  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Not of works, lest any man should boast.For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Eph. 2:8-10 KJV or otherwise put this way in the Living Bible – Because of his kindness, you have been saved through trusting Christ. And even trusting is not of yourselves;it too is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done, so none of us can take any credit for it. It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others

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Finally, We can not EARN our salvation. If we could do that Jesus would not have had to come and die for our sins. Having done that though, lets not insult the gift of God by trying to earn it. That would be like trying to pay me for a the present I gave you for your birthday even though you have no money or source of income. As I mentioned before,  prayer,repentance of sins and alms giving are all good things that every Christian should do daily out of a thankful heart towards God but atonement, penance and self-denial as a way of earning salvation is futile because its already been done and can not be added to. Celebrate the fact that Jesus Loved YOU enough to hang on a cross so that you don’t have to and be grateful. Truly, deeply and sincerely grateful.

To obey is better than sacrifice 1 Sam 15:22 KJV

Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifice as much as in obeying the Lord? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. 1 Sam 15:22 HCSB

Let The Games Begin!!!

2014 Winter Olympics logo.svg

The 2014 Winter Olympics, officially the XXII Olympic Winter Games, are being held in Sochi, Russia and all eyes were on the opening ceremony last night. The teams entered the stadium proudly lead by their nations flag with broad smiles as they waved – they have arrived. Years upon years of hard work inspired by the dream of being an Olympian have brought all of them here. Today. For this, and now they are here! From the veteran members who have taken this walk before, to the newcomers who can hardly contain themselves, the faces can not hide the excitement of the moment. Tomorrow they will compete. Some will fall. Some will cry. All will strive and give their best but ONE will win. OK, Three will win (Gold Silver and Bronze) but you know what I meant.

I can appreciate the level of commitment and hard work these athletes have endured to get to Sochi. They set aside the better part of each day to train. They worked through the pain, self-doubt, discouragement, fatigue and distractions. They had a goal in sight and their gaze was unwavering. Day after day and year after year. What commitment! What determination! What devotion! To reach the Olympics and WIN the prize!

Jesus was such an athlete. He knew what He needed to do and set His face towards winning the Prize. He endured so much on His way to win the prize. For 3 1/2 years He traveled teaching and preaching to both the eager and the skeptic. His Haters tried to trip him up and bring Him to shame. Even His followers disowned Him when the road got rough. Yet, He endured. Who knows which was worse for Him to bear. The rejection and hatred from the people He loved or the lash across His back? The pain of being spat in the face or having His skin pulled off with fistfuls of His beard? The hanging on the cross like a common criminal or the separation from His Father as the sky turned black? Yet, He endured. For the Prize.

 Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards; and now he sits in the place of honor by the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 Living Bible

We are the prize! We are the Joy that He endure it all to reach! We are the Gold medal around His neck! We are! The Word of God tells us the He would come and that in coming He would be the Lamb Who would take away the sins of the world. John the Baptist announced this while standing in the Jordan River. Jesus knew what course of action He must take to win the prize as He walked from the Jordan River that day.

 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. Luke 3:21,22 KJV

In Thee I am well pleased! – Before Jesus healed a single person, preached a single sermon, raised anyone from the dead, opened any blind eyes or deaf ears. Before Jesus did any of the things we hear the most about – God the Father said He was well pleased with Jesus. Why or what was His Father so pleased with? I believe He was pleased with Jesus’ decision to take the first steps towards the goal of winning the Prize even though He would have to walk down a road that would be hard, painful and discouraging. In spite of the years it would take. No matter how hard or lonely. Even when self-doubt and temptations came. Jesus’ resolve was firm. His eye was on the prize and no one and nothing would stop Him.

We are that prize. Our freedom was WON for us by Him on the cross. No Olympic grandstand holds the glory of the Cross of Jesus Christ because He won something more precious then Gold or Silver or Bronze. He WON YOU!…….. and now its your turn to run the race and win the prize. This short life we live is our race and the prize is Eternity with Him in Heaven. He secured it for us on the cross but we have to claim it for ourselves and reach the goal…….. Paul encouraged all of us with theses words….Let it become our anthem…..

….. In a race everyone runs, but only one person gets first prize. So run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win. I’m not just shadow-boxing or playing around. Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to. Otherwise I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside. 1 Cor 9:24-27 Living Bible