Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

Who vs How

I’m reading and enjoying Ed Dickerson’s book, “Grounds for Belief.” He writes about some of his coffee shop style meetings with young adults and how they share their faith. Early in the book, Ed makes it clear there is a difference between faith/belief in God and religion. He calls faith in God the “Who” and religion is simply the “how.”

When it comes to a worship service, the Bible has little to say about the how and a whole lot more about the Who. While it is true that “how” can give us structure and so forth to help us function better in order to reach more folks about the wonderful “Who” we serve, our faith loses something when it becomes primarily about the how.

One of the things my husband would love to change about the church worship service is what he calls the “pontifical entrance.” He explains that the Bible doesn’t record anywhere that Paul told all the people to sit down and then wait for him to go behind the door and then march in the room in a very solemn like manner to indicate church was now about to begin. Reverence, yes of course we need reverence. Just read a few stories about people that got a tiny glimpse of God and fell flat on their faces. He is awesome! But if we get hung up on church can’t start because it takes three men to have the pontifical entrance and one is gone on vacation – we are more worried about the how instead of the Who.

I think of it this way: our little family of five – we’re in this together. We often say we live and die as a family. So we have chore charts, menus and schedules to keep track of what needs to be taken out of the freezer and put in the oven and who needs to be where at what time. But that’s not our family. Those things help our family function, but it’s not our family. They make getting through life each day easier, balancing everyone’s schedules and dietary needs – but the people are the family. When the chore chart, menu planner or weekly schedule become more important than time for a tickle or reading a story together – our focus is off.

If God intrigues you, but religion turns you off – you might want to consider worshiping with a group of folks that focus on Who instead of how. It could make all the difference.

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Filed under Family, Spirituality

Too Busy

I came across this quote from Pastor R.A. Torrey recently.

We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little; many services but few conversions, much machinery but few results.

The first sentence makes such an impact. Too busy to pray=too busy to have power. The truth is that we can get “too busy” with a lot of “good things.” Even if it is considered a “good thing,” such as helping a neighbor or volunteering at a soup kitchen; it becomes a problem if it keeps you from the most important thing of praying and spending time alone with God. Where do you think you get that power to help and volunteer?

We get so wrapped up in busyness and wonder why we don’t feel connected anymore, even when we are doing good things. We fail to realize – we aren’t connected anymore. Don’t get too busy.

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Filed under Spiritual Disciplines, Spirituality

Praying for the Wrong Thing

“Please pray I don’t get kicked out of my house.” When we hear a request like this, our first response is to do exactly that. We may even implore God to soften the cruel heart of the person that wants to evict such a kind soul. Later on, we learn that the person asking for prayer was being kicked out for a reason – a very good reason. Were we praying for the wrong thing?

It is not always our place to know all of the circumstances around a particular request for prayer, but God makes it very plain that praying for others is a duty we should embrace wholeheartedly. How do we know we are praying for the right thing? What if we pray for money, like they asked for, and it gets used to harm that person or others?

I’m trying a new (to me) practice in my prayer life. As a pastor’s wife, I get a lot of prayer requests. When you break it down to the bare essentials – a request for prayer means something isn’t right and the person is wanting help. So when I’m unfamiliar with a person or their situation and not sure if I’m praying for the right thing or not, I pray for what they truly need – for God to act in their lives. God knows what they really need. Perhaps getting kicked out of the house will wake them up to changes that need to be made. In the end, it could be the best answer to prayer they’ve ever had.

Some might say, oh that’s nothing but a cop out, a generic prayer. Really? What is wrong with asking for someone to be covered by the righteousness of Christ, paid for by His own blood, and allowing the Holy Spirit to move and act in their life – and praying for that person by name? Taking it a step further and saying this is what they are asking for, but God, You know what they need most and I’m asking that You meet their truest needs. Generic?

Any prayer can become generic, flippant or so casual the angels must wonder why we even bother. I’m happy to pray for people, by name. But if I don’t know the full situation (and I don’t necessarily need to know) and there isn’t someone I trust who does know the whole situation and vouches for them; I pray for that person by name that God would make Himself known in their life in the way they need most.

Prayer is a spiritual discipline, not a magic vending machine.

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Your Drawing

I went through a focusing leaders program a few years back and loved it! Having to take a step back and put my life on a timeline, recording incidents that impacted me (both good and bad) and seeing how God led in my life through it all was a real eye opener.

I saw clearly that I was never the spectator type. My motto was live life to the fullest isn’t enough – give me more! I also saw that music was a big part of my life from a very young age. Dramatic and impactful presentations were also there, plain to see. At one point, the program asked me to draw my response to all I had learned. It was quite simple, really, although I could only draw in stick figures.

My drawing consisted of a back view of myself, head back, lost in musical praise to God with no worries about what others thought of me. It just didn’t matter.

The good things on my timeline – absolute blessings from God. The challenges, moments of His grace to carry me through some of the most painful experiences of my life. Out of that pain, God brought passion and a mission. Why shouldn’t I praise Him?

If you could take a step back and look at your life, score it into chapters and cite the lessons learned in each phase of your life – what would be the impact? In the end of seeing where you have been and where you are going – what would your drawing look like? Don’t be afraid to be who God created you to be. Live your drawing!

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Filed under Music, Spirituality

Stand Up?

A fellow pastor spoke with us about concern he had for our boys. Evidently he heard the appeal at the end of a special week of prayer emphasis at school and didn’t see my boys stand up. Perhaps we should talk to them about it. Hmmm.

First of all, we’ve never encouraged our kids to stand up for an appeal just because it was there. Don’t lie to God. If it’s not in your heart don’t try to look like everyone else so you can pass some sort of people are so judgmental test. Only stand up if you feel God is leading you to do so.

The truth of the matter, I have actually applauded my oldest son for NOT standing up. That’s right. A whole bunch of kids in his class at church, years ago, decided it was time to get baptized. So the pastor called all of them down front, and Michael was the only one who didn’t go, because he hadn’t made that decision yet. So I did what any caring parent should. I told Michael how proud I was of him for not feeling like he had to go down there just because everyone else did. When he did come to that decision, it was amazing. It was in God’s timing and when Michael was ready, not because he felt he had to follow the crowd.

God wants your heart, 100% of the time. An emotional appeal that gets you to make a half hearted commitment – that’s just not what God is looking for. Can He use it? Sure He can, He’s God after all. You can make a somewhat commitment and He can lead you the rest of the way, but it might take longer. Why not just make a full decision for God – when you are ready? Is there any pressure? Well, the way things look, the world can’t put up with too much of the craziness going on, so you might want to think about getting ready a little faster. Just sayin.

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In the Same Category

Do you know anybody that seems to be energized by fear? They don’t know what to do unless they are afraid of something. Most of us know at least one person like this. But I ran across an interesting verse in the Bible about fear, found in the book of Revelation.

In Revelation 21:8, God is giving a message here, that certain people won’t be able to overcome in the end. It is a warning for us to let Christ change our hearts, thoughts and actions so we have His strength to overcome. Not surprisingly, murderers and idolaters are on the list as well as the sexually immoral, liars and unbelievers. So what is the first thing listed? The fearful. Whoa! Are you saying that those full of fear won’t experience eternity with our Awesome God? Nope, I’m not saying it, God is. In His eyes, being full of fear is in the same category as murderers, liars and unbelievers.

Why is this? If we are constantly fearful, we’ve made fear our god. Of course God has something to say about this – He doesn’t want us to have any other gods. He alone wants to be God in our lives. Are you strangled by fear? Search God’s word for His many promises that say we have nothing to fear with God on our side. We can’t overcome being fearful on our own. We have to let God help us overcome. He is our victory and strength!

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The Approach

Imagine if you will a courtroom where the judge decides before even laying eyes on the defendant or plaintiff that the defendant is guilty. He then has to make sure all the evidence presented in the case supports that and he doesn’t allow any evidence proving innocence to be shown. Is this justice? Is this the right approach?

Unfortunately, many who study the Bible do so in a manner like the judge in my parable. We already have ideas about what the “truth” should be and instead of looking up each and every reference to that particular subject – we only select the verses that prove our point or can be misrepresented somehow to do so.

What is your approach? I will admit, I’ve been on both sides of the coin at times, but I have greater peace and satisfaction in “truths” I discover when all of the evidence is seen and carefully examined. Pray as you study God’s Word. Pray for wisdom and the right approach.

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