Sunday, August 7, 2011

Freedom From Religion

Holier Than Thou?

It is amazing that there are people who can actually feel such an emotion.

Is the Brightness Still in Me?
by Brotha DC

There was a time in my life when I fell into the category of a holier than thou mentality.  I walked around with a Bible in my hand, sneering at the sinners as they went about their lives ignoring what I perceived to be righteousness.  Then, one day... I decided to accost a young man sitting in the park with a can of beer in his hand.  To my surprise, he (between sips) completely deconstructed my phony religious constructs and had me feeling like a complete idiot.  He simply spoke on the commandments pertaining to the love of God, not to judge a person’s quality of life by setting one’s focus on relatively trival things such as a can of alcoholic beverage.

Over the years, I came to realize that while I may not be one to routinely imbibe in a libation of hops and barley... that doesn’t make me a better person than anyone else.  The late great Dr. David Durham said it this way:
If all you do regarding your salvation is to give up drinking alcohol... all that means is that you will go to hell sober.
Have you ever had one of those moments when you look at yourself in the mirror and realize just how flawed and imperfect you are?  I have.  And when I contemplate the limnitations and weaknesses of my humanity, I wonder how could God even stand the sight of me?

Then... I remember...

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
John 3:16-18 [MSG]

4 But God--so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us,

5 Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation).
Ephesians 2:4-5 [AMP]

It is not hinged on how good I can be... or how perfectly I can live my life. It is set by the matchless love that God has for us.  Now that is not an excuse to live a selfish, wreckless, sinful life.  It is, however, freedom in knowing that despite my imperfections, God’s love is perfect.

Religious people don’t seem to have those existential dilemmas.  They look at the (often self-imposed) rules and regulations that they manage to meet and declare themselves perfect.  Even more perfect than others.

41-42 "It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

Work the Words into Your Life

43-45 "You don't get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It's who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.
Luke 6:41-45 [MSG]

Some of the worst problems I have faced in life stemmed from religious people.  For example, I worked with one woman who had religious paraphernalia all over her desk at the office.  She would sit there and sing hymns to herself... and then get up, go into the senior boss’ office... and tell the most heinous lies about me.  Lies that eventually cost me that job.

I could go on and on about such people... perhaps until my fingers ached from typing it all out.  The point is, there are people who truly typefy the title of Christian (a person who is a true follower of Jesus the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) -- following His example and living in accordance with His lifestyle.  In other words, someone whose life is the definition of “What Would Jesus Do?”

It is impossible to feel holier than thou when staring in the mirror of God’s word.  Yet, in that mirror is where I will stay planted until I can confirm, as my pal Charlie Peacock wondered, is the brightness still in me?

Examine Yourself
by Judy Ann

Father, in the name of Jesus, I humble myself and submit to Your Word that speaks...exposes, sifts, analyzes, and judges the very thoughts and purposes of my heart. I test my own actions, so that I might have appropriate self-esteem, without comparing myself to anyone else. The security of Your guidance will allow me to carry my own load with energy and confidence. Amen.

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 [AMP]

4 But let every person carefully scrutinize and examine and test his own conduct and his own work. He can then have the personal satisfaction and joy of doing something commendable [in itself alone] without [resorting to] boastful comparison with his neighbor.

5 For every person will have to bear (be equal to understanding and calmly receive) his own [little] load [of oppressive faults].
Galatians 6:4-5 [AMP]

My desire Lord is for people to see You in me..may I reflect your love and grace and mercy..may I be more like You Lord everyday with a heart of compassion ..You are the reason I live and breathe..

Fruit of the Spirit
by Judy Ann

Father, your Spirit lives in me, and I am swift to hear. I have learned it’s more important to listen than to be heard. I purpose to be slow to speak, and choose the words I speak with grace. I am slow to become angry. May my recreated human spirit, under the control of the Holy Spirit bear fruit -- joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

19 Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry.

20 For man's anger does not promote the righteousness God [wishes and requires].
James 1:19-20 [AMP]

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].
Galatians 5:22-23 [AMP]

Growing Up
by Judy Ann

Father, I affirm the Lordship of Jesus over my relationships. When I was a child, I talked, thought and reasoned like a child. I am done with childish ways and have put them aside. The blood of Christ, Who offered Himself without spot to You, Father, purges my conscience from dead works of selfishness, agitating passions and moral conflicts. Holy Spirit, help me grow up in every way, speaking truly, dealing truly and living truly. Jesus is Lord over my spirit, soul and body. Amen

When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
1 Corinthians 13:11 [MSG]

May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he'll do it!
I Thessalonians 5:23-24 [AMP]

Renewing Our Thoughts
by Judy Ann

It is written, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” I no longer desire to conform to the pattern of this world, but may I be transformed by the renewing of my mind. Then my thoughts and my ways will be changed to Your thoughts and Your ways, in the name of Jesus. Amen

8 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

10 For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

11 So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:8-11 [AMP]

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
Romans 12:2 [AMP]

"Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.." Philippians 2:14-15

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