Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Is Christianity a Religion?

I remember playing tetherball in my backyard growing up. The kind of setup where you just throw a bunch of concrete in a tire and then put a pole in the middle, attach a ball on a rope and you've got a weekend of fun!! When I had friends over, usually at some point we made our way over and would play for hours. One day I had my friend Doug over and we were in a heated battle (I must admit-I had game), and in the middle of this heated game I asked him about coming to church. His reply was, 'No, I go to a church. The Mormon church down the road.'
I stared at him as I let him spin the ball around the pole. What do you mean no?? I thought we were friends! And you're a Mormon...wait...there's other kinds of churches?? What?!?!
In today's obsession with terms it's simply called pluralism. Multiple people have multiple opinions about God, life, happiness, heaven, hell, etc. I grew up a majority of my childhood thinking that if you believed in God you were a Christian and went to church, and if you didn't that meant you didn't go to church. The idea of multiple religions hadn't smashed the windshield of my brain yet.

Have you ever had this asked of you-'What right do you have, as a Christian, to tell me that my religion or cultural practice, my traditions, my views of God are wrong?'

This solely depends on where you find your freedom. I find my freedom in Jesus Christ. It's humbling and yet freeing at the same time to know that I'm saved not by how 'good' or 'nice' I am but that I recognize I'm saved by the grace of God. That Jesus rose from the dead to conquer sin, Satan, death, and to save me from myself.
You might be reading this and say, 'Well that's just your religion. And so again, you have no right to tell me about right or wrong.'
The interesting thing about Christianity-true Christianity-is that it doesn't allow itself to be considered just another religion. It always says that it's the truth, and it is the only truth. Jesus is not owned or belongs to any specific culture as well. Jesus sits above culture and religion. Jesus has authority over all religions and cultures.
John 14:6, 'Jesus answered, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.''
I've decided to make a choice in this life and follow Jesus. In a world that cries for tolerance but needs Jesus-I will understand if you don't follow Jesus, but I can't accept it. Jesus will forever be on my lips and so if you choose to live a lifestyle that glorifies yourself, I'll understand but try and love you to Jesus. If you would rather choose a world religion, I'll understand but I won't stop loving you to Jesus. We can't stop the (com)mission that Jesus laid out for us.

There will be those who accept, and those who don't. That doesn't change who I am in Christ.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Year 1

Our church body turned 1 this past Sunday. It was great to have so many people in attendance, baby dedications, membership, amazing time in worship. I felt bad because there was so many there that I couldn't talk to all of them! I had a moment before I left as I looked at the 'sanctuary' with no one there. All the music equipment was put away, we took down the banners, all the cake and coffee were gone. It was empty. And the easy answer would be-Church is over. Time to go home!
But God has taught me something in Year 1 of our church plant and that is our Sunday gathering is just the beginning. There is never a championship won in the locker room, it's won on the field.
So no matter the raw-raw given inside, it must be accomplished outside. That's why I'm excited for year 2 of our church. I feel God has placed a new boldness in the hearts of His people. Before each week I'm receiving an email, text, or phone call about how someone asked someone about Jesus! That's what we're supposed to be doing!!
Amidst the struggles/trials/tribulations we are facing, He is wanting to move! I'm blessed by our congregation because I believe they are yearning for it. Not just for life to get better but for God to be glorified even in our troubles. It's a message that our community and neighborhoods need.
It's a message of HOPE. That all we see is not all there is. That there is a God who loves them so much He gave them His Son, Jesus.
I've started to let Philippians 1:6 change me. 'Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.'
How will people know that God is working if I don't tell them? I think if we were honest with ourselves we would say, we have squandered enough opportunities. I know I'm guilty of it. That's where the beauty of Jesus comes in because He knows. He knows I've made mistakes and yet He loves me. The most beautiful stories of Jesus are how He went to those who were in sin, and told them He had life for them. He is THE RESCUE.

Year 1 of our church was foundational. Year 2 of our church will be______ (you fill in the blank).