Religion or relationship

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Taxman

It’s that time of year again.

The day we love to hate.
The chickens have come home to roost. The fat lady sang. It’s time to pay your uncle. The taxman cometh. Continue reading

You might be a Pharisee if . . .

You might be a Pharisee if . . .

you catch yourself saying, “You can’t talk to me like that!”Pharisee

you think life is not always fair.

your prayers are more self-talk than talking with God.

you catch yourself mumbling, “Did you hear about…”

you believe you’re more spiritual than your friends.

you justify your anger because you know you’re in the right.

you enjoy receiving praise from other believers.

you believe you’re pleasing God by following rules.

you believe you’re humble.

you don’t think you need anybody’s help”.

outward righteousness is better than heart holiness.

you  celebrate the failures of others.

you obsess over the opinion of others.

you are convinced your opinion is the only right one.

you’re quick to criticize others when they disagree with you.

you think “Christians” who don’t agree with you are “compromisers”.

you feel good when you catch someone’s Scriptural error.

you look down on people who are not on your spiritual level.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness
and looked down on everyone else
,
Jesus told this parable:
 
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee
and the other a tax collector.
  The Pharisee stood by himself
and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not
like other people—
robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.

I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not
even look up to heaven, but beat his breast
and said,
‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other,
went home justified before God. For all those who
exalt themselves will be humbled, and those
who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 18:9-14

Misery, meet Mercy

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Jesus Was Intolerant Of Hypocrisy

Yes, Jesus was love and peace personified. But He was also adamantly intolerant.

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Are You “A Christian” Or Are You “Christian”?

I resurrected this post from my archives. When I published it in 2012, it received some good feedback. Enjoy.

My friend Henry asked this question Saturday at our Bible Study. “Are you a Christian or are you Christian?”  It’s a question we can all ponder.Which phrase below best describes you?

___ I am a Christian.

___ I am Christian.

___ I am a good Christian.

If you answered “I am a good Christian,”  who is a better Christian than you? Who is not as good a Christian as you? God looks at each of us the same. Through the blood of Jesus God sees all of us who are born from above as forgiven, righteous and holy. In Luke Jesus answered a man who addressed him as “Good Teacher” — “And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.’ ” (Luke 18:19) Good is a comparative adjective which means someone compares people or things by degrees, such as good ice cream, better ice cream, best ice cream. God does not compare Christians.

If we say we are “a Christian” it implies that we claim to belong to a group of people. (A Gallup poll in 2009 found that 78 percent of Americans declared themselves to be a Christian, as opposed to being a Catholic, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist, other groups or a non believer).

When we tell someone, “I am a Christian,” what does that mean to us? Does it mean we have claimed Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior (we’re saved)?  Does it mean we go to church 50 Sundays and Wednesday nights a year? Does it mean we read the Bible? Does it mean we can quote a bunch of scripture? Does it mean we volunteer at a soup kitchen twice a month? Tithe? Visit widows and orphans? Does it mean we pray? Does it mean we attend a Bible study every Tuesday night? Does it mean we’ve been baptized?

Both the ones calling themselves “a Christian” and those who are “Christian” do many of the same things. The difference is their motivation. Those who are “a Christian” do things for the approval of men. They link their works to their desire to follow all the rules, do all the right things, participate in all the right events, and look good to everyone around. These folks are religious. They are working to gain acceptance from God, when they are already fully accepted by God.

In Mark 10 we read about a rich young ruler who came to Jesus wanting to be a follower.

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ And he said to Him, Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.’ Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.  And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

Jesus is not implying that to be rich or have lots of money is bad. He’s teaching us that if we love money, or anything else more than we love Jesus, and if we are not willing to deny ourselves and forsake all our possessions, we can not be an authentic follower of Jesus.

In Matthew 23, Jesus talks to the Pharisees about their religion and the seven woes. Two of the woes address issues “a Christian” faces.  Jesus says.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, (and those who call themselves “aChristian”) hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:25-28)

In his book not a fan, Kyle Idleman says, ” That’s a picture of what happens to a lot of fans (those who call themselves ‘a Christian‘)If you asked them: Are you a fan (a Christian) or a follower? they would confidently respond, ‘follower.’ It’s not a question of their effort or desire. They are following hard. Here’s the problem; it’s not Jesus they are following. Without realizing it, they are aiming at the wrong target. Instead of following Jesus they are following religious rules and rituals.”¹

The major difference between those who call themselves “a Christian” and those who are “Christian” is their commitment to love. Christians allow Jesus to live His life in us, through us and as us. Jesus loves through Christians. Christian works come from a heart surrendered completely to God through faith. Faith in Christ to carry out God’s will through them. Faith in the Holy Spirit to lead them, help them and speak God’s will to them.

Christians love others out of their deep, abiding love for Christ.

So, are you “a Christian” or are you “Christian”? Your answer may impact your eternity. Not your salvation, but your eternal rewards.

Thanks for dropping by. Did you enjoy reading this post? I’d love to read your comments. If you enjoyed reading why not subscribe to my blog? Just go to the home page, and on the right side click Subscribe and enter your email address.  That way you’ll receive an email notification each time I publish a new post.

¹not a fan, by Kile Idleman; ©2011 by Kyle Idleman; published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids Michigan, 49530; pg. 69

Grace Even For Malchus

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Another Democrats-In-Heaven-Post Comment

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Will There Be Democrats In Heaven? No!

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How Much Do You Love God?

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Are You Sick?

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A Prostitute Teaches Me How to Worship — Part II

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A Prostitute Teaches Me How To Worship — Part 1

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Religious Freedom — An Oxymoron

A friend of mine emailed me some pictures of billboards going up somewhere in Tennessee for a certain political party. Two of the billboards suggested that if we choose their political candidate, America would have “Religious Freedom”.

I don’t want religion. Do you? Continue reading

Was Jesus A Liar?

Was Jesus a liar?
He made some outrageous claims during his ministry preaching and teaching.
In John 14:1-12, Jesus says these things, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In Father’s house are many rooms (“mansions” in the KJV); if it were not so I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you Continue reading