How does Christianity claim that we connect with God?

This is a very important and very crucial question. First of all, let’s clarify a few things about religion.

As we said before, religion means to be re-tied to God or reconnected to Him. So in that respect, Christianity is definitely a religion, based on that definition, but when we think about the word religion in the way that it has come to mean today, then it is definitely not a religion by today’s definition. Today’s definition of religion has more to do with the institution, the rules, the systems, methodologies, etc. When you look at the Christian church today, it appears very much to be a religion based on today’s definition, but that is not what the original intention was. Christ did not say, “hey this Jewish religion thing is not working, so let’s just scrap it and start a new religion and call it Christianity”. Jesus came to save the whole world, regardless of their faith background and to unify everyone under ONE God! Followers of Christ began to be called Christians by the unbelievers, almost as a derogatory term. The believers themselves called themselves “followers of the way”, based on Christ’s words when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. Around 300 AD, this following began to decline into a religion, man once again messing it up. I suspect the same thing happened to the Muslim faith. Mohammed had what I believe to be a legitimate visit from the Arc Angel Michael and wrote down what the angel told him to write. In that respect, he was a legitimate prophet of God, and as such, a follower of Christ. The Koran confirms this. But once again, man decided to follow the man and turned it into yet another religion causing even more division. Even within the Christian church there has been much division over the decades starting with the protestant reformation and continuing to this day with a new denomination being formed when someone disagrees with someone else.  The word denomination means “a recognized autonomous branch of the Christian Church.” The word autonomous means, “having self-government or acting independently”. There should be nothing self or independent about the church! It should be unified as one with Christ as the head that governs the whole body!

Colossians 1:18 – And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

Ephesians 1:22 – God placed all things under Christ’s rule. He appointed him to be ruler over everything for the church.

So God wants unity, but the “religion” that was intended to connect us to God, has caused major division among faiths and within faiths. In the words of Donald Trump, “We have a huge mess”.

There is a move among Christians lately to say “It’s not about religion, it’s about relationship with God”, which is very true, but unfortunately falls short as nothing more than just a nice slogan if not accompanied by an honest, raw relationship with God.

So now to get to the actual question.

Most religions have human effort as the way of connecting to God. We connect to God by being good and doing the right things, by our own merit. I hear people say all the time, “I’m a good a person so I should go to Heaven”. That is NOT how the Christian faith says we connect to God. It says that we connect with Him by faith and faith alone, that all of our human efforts are useless and ineffective.

Titus 3:5 – He saved us. It wasn’t because of the good things we had done. It was because of his mercy. He saved us by washing away our sins. We were born again. The Holy Spirit gave us new life.

Romans 11:6 – And if they are chosen by grace, then they can’t work for it. If that were true, grace wouldn’t be grace anymore.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – God’s grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn’t come from anything you do. It is God’s gift. It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it.

Luke 18:9-14 – Jesus told a story to some people who were sure they were right with God. They looked down on everyone else. 10 He said to them, “Two men went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee. The other was a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed. ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people,’ he said. ‘I am not like robbers or those who do other evil things. I am not like those who commit adultery. I am not even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week. And I give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood farther away than the Pharisee. He would not even look up to heaven. He brought his hand to his heart and prayed. He said, ‘God, have mercy on me. I am a sinner.’

14 “I tell you, the tax collector went home accepted by God. But not the Pharisee. All those who lift themselves up will be made humble. And those who make themselves humble will be lifted up.”

And my personal favorite: Romans 8 – 3-4 God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God!

We come to Him BY FAITH! We live in Him and for Him, BY FAITH. That means letting go and trusting. Do you see how incredibly important this is?! On our own we can do nothing of any significance that is good or lasting, but through Him, we can do all things.

When I struggle to get it right, I remain in that struggle, always focused on the struggle, never really succeeding for long at anything that I struggle with. When surrender and start walking by faith, nothing is a struggle. Everything come naturally because it is God working in me that does it.

Now to Pete’s point, this has the appearance of a cop out and a justification to sin, and there are those who definitely use it as a cop out, but they miss the point completely. The truth is that faith is completely the opposite. There is a new power at work in us when we have faith that enables us to overcome sin, to act in love, and to have a genuine happiness and joy in life that far surpasses any human effort or human happiness, and it comes purely by faith in Him.

So to answer the question, we connect to God through faith in what God did through Christ and the faith in what God in Christ did on the cross, freeing us from all of our wrong doing and shame and struggle and pain! We were weighed down by the corruption of this world. It gets on us whether we like it or not. Our own sin weighs us down, but Christ breaks the chains and brings freedom.

God wants to do amazing things in your lives right now if you let him by faith. Let go of all of those strongholds you hold up, laying down all of the defenses and lay your lives down. You will connect with Him in ways that will transform you and you will know a joy that is beyond description. He is just waiting for an invitation to come flooding in and to give you a life that is full and free.

The New Temple

Jesus essentially did away with the temple system. Almost every religion operates on this system. A holy place, run by a holy man, teaching from a holy book. What Jesus taught and provided for was that we are now the temples of the Holy Spirit (the holy place), making us a holy people with the holy words of God inside each of us that have surrendered our lives to Him.

The problem, in general, with the church in North America is that we have become far too self-sufficient, with lots of money, resources, staff, programs, etc. We are rich in resources but we have become very poor in spirit, in faith and in depth of relationship with Him. We go through the motions, having a solid belief system and a form of Godliness, but denying it’s power. We have become altogether ineffective.

Think about it! If God is real and if He is love itself, and if this power that created the universe lives in us, then why do we live the way we do, ruled by sin, fearful, lacking any real love and compassion that uses God’s great power to change the world, not walking by faith and doing all of the things that His early followers did that we read about in Acts. It baffles me when I think about what could and should be compared to what is.

God wants to set us free from all of our fear, doubt, worry, pride, shame and our self reliant egos that create huge strongholds in our lives. Strongholds that are designed to protect us from an enemy that has already been defeated! Where is our faith? Let Him break all the chains and and surrender fully to Him. Be filled by His Holy Spirit! There are places to go and things to do. You need not fear because He is with you and will not leave you empty handed.


by Colin Wilson,

Highland Christian News

Dear Christian believer,

For a considerable time now you have been strangely unsettled in your spirit. This has perplexed you – as you have just been getting on with your Christian walk and participating in the general life of the church. But you have been disturbed in yourself. You have re-read the pages of the Bible relating to the dynamic works of the apostles and the early disciples; and then compared these with what you have been experiencing in your own life and fellowship setting. And you have perceived a huge “mis-match”; a yawning gap between where (spiritually-speaking) things are now, and where the early followers of Christ were in their day. (Note: I am not suggesting that Pentecost is to be repeated; but rather continued.. Eph 5:18.)

In different times and circumstances you may have felt that it was time to “move on to a new situation” in your journey with Christ, but in a strange way you have not felt any clear direction regarding which way to go. You have not felt called to “re-locate”; indeed you may have been feeling and continuing to feel that you need strive to indentify more closely with your immediate neighbours and that section of society (neighbourhood/ workplace, etc.) in your immediate orbit.

In a strange way, any striving that you have done to draw closer to Christ, and to be more committed to His calling and God’s word, has increased rather than reduced the dis-satisfaction and unrest that you have been feeling. And you have felt lonely even when surrounded by other Christians who do not seem to be disturbed in spirit in the way that you are. Most other Christians in fact seem to be just happily getting on with their lives. And this adds to your perplexity. “Is it just me? Why am I feeling this way? There must be something wrong with me; as most others seem to be getting along OK.”

You have been concerned that you might be getting cynical and critical over what you see as the increasing worldliness in the church. And you long for fellowship with others whom you feel might understand – in some measure at least – “where you are”. But as you cautiously yet honestly open up to others whom you sense may be walking the same path, you find that they too in their heart of hearts have been going through exactly the same inner spiritual processes and turmoil as yourself.

If you have been sensing or experiencing any of these things take heart dear child of God. I believe that what you have been going through is a God-given unsettledness, a Holy dissatisfaction with “what is”; and what He has been creating in you is to prepare you for the days to come.

I believe a great crisis lies ahead – for society, its peoples and the religious system which many would call “the church”; and God needs those who have been weaned away from dependancy on the structures, programmes and other facets of organised churchianity. He is looking for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; and long to be filled with the life-giving Spirit of God.

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is searching for those who are – and will seek to be – Kingdom-builders (as opposed to empire- builders). He is desiring and preparing those who will seek to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified; those who will find no satisfaction in the trinkets of this world and who will spurn the carnal methods, the fixation with “success” and the worldly measurements of “spirituality” and “commitment” that have invaded the church.

But, if you have not done so already, please consider some questions. Are you a believer who is prepared to “abandon all” in the cause of Christ and His Great Commission to reach the lost?

Have you considered the cost, and are you prepared to pay that price in the context of the measure of grace that has been shown to you? Indeed, in your spirit, you realise that nothing short of total submission will slake your thirst for God and satisfy the desires of your heart. The way ahead could involve great sacrifice; and you may face rejection and much criticism – even from those around you and close to you in the “church”,  but it is this type of sacrifice in which the Lord delights (Matt 5:11&12). And indeed the cost of turning away from His calling upon your life will be even greater.

Take heart dear follower of “the Way”, you are not alone. Many others are being spoken to in exactly the same way as God is speaking to you. If it is not apparent to you yet, time will reveal those who will stand with you. Meanwhile equip yourself with (a knowledge of) His Word and abandon yourself to (the leading

  1. of) His Spirit, that He might use you to the extent that He would, as the God of all ages works out His purposes in our fallen and needy world; both now and forever.

Your God and my God has clearly stated through His Son Jesus

Christ: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteous- ness, because they shall be filled. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.”


-Your brother, Colin Wilson.


– by Andrew Strom

“God is going to use this Reformation and Revival to smash down the dividing walls that separate the Christians. Jesus has never stopped desiring that there be only “one” undivided body. Today, however, just amongst the Pentecostal/Charismatic Christians alone there are so many divisions, “streams” and denominations that it is almost impossible to count them all. Each division has it’s own `label’, and in many ways they operate like competing corporations, selling the same “product” under different labels (with slight variations)…

God is going to smash down these `walls’ in this Revival. How? By bringing His people out from underneath all these “labels”! In one very significant vision several years ago, a NZ prophet saw God firing “flaming arrows” into the churches. These flaming arrows were `on-fire’ ministries, speaking the word of God. However, the Pastors were rushing around trying to damp down the flames! God then sent a “mighty wind” to fan the flames, and suddenly the doors of the churches burst open and all the people flooded out onto the streets to become one huge throng. I believe that this is an exact picture of what is about to take place, and in many ways it also illustrates the whole concept of “Reformation”…

Another local intercessor was also shown a vision relating to this several years ago, while deep in prayer. The first thing she saw was church buildings of every kind – stained glass, steeples, plain and modern, etc. This part of the vision was in black and white. The churches all looked abandoned – like a ghost town, with birds nesting in them and doors and windows askew, etc. And in each church, the intercessor saw a huge old curtain or `veil’ that was in absolute tatters.

The second part of the vision was all in colour. She saw hundreds of Christians outdoors (with guitars, etc) fellowshipping together in the open air. She knew that these Christians had abandoned their church buildings and `divisions’, and were now fellowshipping freely out-of-doors. When she asked God what the huge tattered curtain in each of the abandoned churches represented, she was told that when Jesus was crucified, the veil/curtain in the temple was rent, thus allowing the people free access to the `holy of holies’. However, the churches had raised up this veil once again. But now these structures had been abandoned, thus allowing the common people free access to God’s holy-of-holies once more. What an astounding vision!

There can be no doubt that God desires a loving, militant “street-level” Church today. After all, isn’t that what the early church was all about? I believe that it will become common for incredible signs, wonders and miracles to be performed on the streets as a result of this coming Revival. In fact, I believe that we are about to see a demonstration of God’s glory in the area of the miraculous that will be even more powerful than the book of Acts.

Enormous love, enormous boldness and `joy unspeakable’ will be just some of the characteristics of this Revival. And everything will be bathed in prayer. In fact this Revival is going to be BUILT on prayer. As Charles Finney said, “Revival comes from heaven when heroic souls enter the conflict determined to win or die… `The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force.'” There is no substitute for faith-filled, Spirit-fired “agonizing” prayer. Only those who are prepared and praying will be involved in this Revival from the beginning. As history shows, great blessing can only ever fall when the people of God learn to seek His face with all their heart.”

-Source-  ‘The Coming Great Reformation’, 1996.


by A.W. Tozer

A prophet is one who knows his times and what God is trying to say to the people of his times.

Today we need prophetic preachers; not preachers of prophecy merely, but preachers with a gift of prophecy. The word of wisdom is missing. We need the gift of discernment again in our pulpits.

It is not ability to predict that we need, but the anointed eye, the power of spiritual penetration and interpretation, the ability to appraise the religious scene as viewed from God’s position, and to tell us what is actually going on.

Where is the man who can see through the ticker tape and confetti to discover which way the parade is headed, why it started in the first place and, particularly, who is riding up front in the seat of honor?

What is needed desperately today is prophetic insight. Scholars can interpret the past; it takes prophets to interpret the present.

Learning will enable a man to pass judgment on our yesterdays, but it requires a gift of clear seeing to pass sentence on our own day. One hundred years from now historians will know what was taking place religiously in this year of our Lord; but that will be too late for us. We should know right now.

If Christianity is to receive a rejuvenation it must be by other means than any now being used. If the church in the second half of this century is to recover from the injuries she suffered in the first half, there must appear a new type of preacher. The proper, ruler-of-the- synagogue type will never do. Neither will the priestly type of man who carries out his duties, takes his pay and asks no questions, nor the smooth-talking pastoral type who knows how to make the Christian religion acceptable to everyone. All these have been tried and found wanting.

Another kind of religious leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the Throne. When he comes (and I pray God there will be not one but many) he will stand in flat contradiction to everything our smirking, smooth civilization holds dear. He will contradict, denounce and protest in the name of God and will earn the hatred and opposition of a large segment of Christendom. Such a man is likely to be lean, rugged, blunt-spoken and a little bit angry with the world. He will love Christ and the souls of men to the point of willingness to die for the glory of the one and the salvation of the other. But he will fear nothing that breathes with mortal breath.

We need to have the gifts of the Spirit restored again to the church, and it is my belief that the one gift we need most now is the gift of prophecy.

-A.W. Tozer – from ‘Of God and Men’.


by A.W. Tozer

Some persons, for instance, find church intolerable because there is no objective toward which pastor and people are moving, aside possibly from the limited one of trying to enlist eight more women and 10 more men to chaperon the annual youth cookout or reaching the building fund quota for the month. And believe me, that can get mighty wearisome after a while, so wearisome indeed that alert, forward-looking persons often forsake the churches in droves and leave the spiritless, the dull and those afflicted with permanent insouciance to carry on, if a phrase so active dare be used to describe what they do. To Paul there was nothing dull or tiresome in the religion of Christ.

God had a plan which was being carried forward to completion, and Paul and all the faithful in Christ Jesus were part of that plan.

It included predestination, redemption, adoption and the obtaining of an eternal inheritance in the heavenly places. Gods purpose has now been openly revealed (Ephesians 3:10,11). It was the knowledge that they were part of an eternal plan that imparted unquenchable enthusiasm to the early Christians. They burned with holy zeal for Christ and felt that they were part of an army which the Lord was leading to ultimate conquest over all the powers of darkness. That was enough to fill them with perpetual enthusiasm.


Wake Up and Grow Up

After a few week long struggle with self and wrestling with God, He (God) told me that September 8th would be my turning point. We were in Orlando Florida the following week attending Night of Joy at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World. September 8th would fall on the Monday after that event, the day I was to fly back home later that evening.

I decided to visit the place where I had my “White Light Experience” over 36 years ago, a hotel not far Disney. I was naively hoping that maybe God would once again visit me in this place, even though I knew that God never does things the same way twice. I was aware that I tend to depend too much on the miraculous, an immature approach to life, expecting God to rescue me at every sign of discomfort or fear that I faced, a habit that I was at least partially aware had cost me significant growth and maturity. My childlike fear played out in many other ways of course; looking to false comforts, living a very narrow experience of life, squeaking by with the very least amount of effort that is needed to get by in life, lacking courage, looking for approval and playing the good guy for everyone, constantly trying to get it right, (for fear that if I didn’t, life would fall apart), trying to defend and preserve self in order to create the safest possible world that I could, and various other forms of childlike self-soothing.

So there I was sitting by the poolside, crying out to God one more time, desperate for an answer. I became aware that the setting of this poolside looked a little different than I remembered, (the hotel had several pools) and so I went in search for the one where I originally cried out to God and for the room where He answered me miraculously 10 minutes later. Looking at a hotel map it became clear that half of the property had been sold, and that both of the locations I was searching for were now parking lots. This picture shows what it looked like then and now. The two pins mark the spot where the pool and room were located.

Pool side and room side by side


As I got back into my car, I chuckled to myself as I felt God reminding me that it’s not about the experience or the location, (even things from God can became false securities), but that it’s about Him, here and now. This was something that I believed and had experienced before, but that fear narrowing mindset and all of the defenses that I had built up over the years had created what felt like a box over my head that only allowed me to see and experience the things in that very limited mental space. I knew there was a bigger world out there. Sometimes that box would become translucent and I would see this glorious world of possibility beyond, but fear kept me from reaching it.

A week later I was visiting my best friend Ken. He was diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year, the worst kind you can get. The treatment seemed to arrest the growth of the tumor but the doctors had just found another one of significant size. He told me that they were going to put an actual box on his head in order to shoot the tumors in his brain with a gamma gun. He said he was no longer worried or concerned whether or not he would live or die. He had truly laid it at God’s feet and trusted Him regardless of the outcome. He said that as he was praying one day, he saw a vision of Christ sitting outside under a tree, legs stretched out, as though He were having a picnic. Christ told him that he had to lay his burden down at His feet and let it go. He said, “You are going to be tempted to pick it up again, but you must not”. Ken agreed, and with that Jesus threw a picnic blanket over all his cares and covered them completely, (covered by the blood as it were). Since that time he has had peace about his disease (although he has his days from time to time). As my friend was telling me these things, tears were streaming down my cheeks and I said to him, “Ken, God has been asking me also to lay down all my fear and striving to get it right, and if you can lay down your fear of the outcome of cancer, I can certainly lay down my silly childlike fears”.

My problem, put simply, is that I never fully grew up. My child ego has kept important parts of my soul and psyche buried for a long time.  This excerpt from the following blog article, posted in Understanding the Mind on December 13, 2011 by Sen, explains it very well:

“Carrying a strong child identity, as an adult, is a major cause of negativity. The child identity is basically the “ego” structure that you had when you were a child. A lot of adults carry this “child ego”, or child identity, in them way into their adult lives because they fail to let go of it as they grow up in the physical sense. The presence of a strong child identity, in an adult, leads to a highly dysfunctional adult experience. The adult life has responsibilities that the child-identity is scared of and hence it stands in resistance to allowing a smooth unfolding of your adult experience. Also, this child-identity disallows the presence of an “adult maturity” that’s required as a pre-requisite for the manifestation of several of your desired realities as an adult.

The hall-mark of the presence of a strong child-identity in you is the presence of “childish” fears in the mind. By “childish” fears, I mean the type of fears which are normal to have in a child but are understandably incongruent to be seen in an adult. Such an adult is also prone to child-like guilt (leading to several hang ups in adult life) and is easily influenced by outside authority. An adult who has a strong child identity is constantly scared of moving in the adult world, with all kinds of day to day fears. It’s also common for such adults to constantly seek approval, and emotional support, from the outside without the maturity to be his/her own person”

“If there is a presence of a strong child-identity in you as an adult, the resistance that it creates to your life movement manifests as a lot emotional suffering created by fear. This fear/suffering is usually the catalyst, or wake up call, for you to become aware of the dysfunction of holding on to this child-identity. Fear is the fire that burns through the child-identity when allowed in fully. As long as you keep running away from fears, you stay stuck in the child-identity, but the moment you allow the fears in completely it burns through the structure of the child-ego. Remember that a child always pushes away from fear, while an adult has the capacity to develop a maturity/awareness to face the fears in, to not run away from fears. Fear is a huge catalyst for inner transformation if you allow it in fully rather than try to run away from it.

Most people who have strong child-identities in them resort to escapist methods as soon as they are faced with fears that come up during their journey into adulthood – they try to deny/escape the fears (usually by drowning themselves in some distractions like entertainment, drugs, alcohol, spiritual escapism etc, in worst cases some even resort to suicide). The child-ego thrives on escapist methods. This “escape mode” of living causes you to live in fear all the time and this fear causes the attraction of some fear-based realities as an external reflection. When you finally decide to stop escaping fears and allow yourself to bring an open awareness to the fears in your being, letting your being be penetrated by the all the fears that arise, it starts dissolving the child-identity in you and what emerges is the mature you (the adult version of you that was always present below the child-identity).

Spiritual literatures have a name for this movement in your life force, where it brings you in touch with realities that create fear in you so that it can burn off the child-identity you are holding onto – it’s called “fierce grace” of life, where it puts you through some fears for your inner growth (Scientifically, you attract these fear-based realities through the presence of the strong vibration of fear that’s present in the child-ego). You reach a point where you can no longer run away from your fears, and hence you just surrender to them, and in this moment the child-identity is dissolved completely. The dissolution of child-identity allows you to live your adult life in a positive manner, allowing you to take up the responsibilities that are required of you in this realm, this maturity also rids you of inner resistance allowing the manifestation of personal realities that you desire as an adult.”

So what is the key to letting go of our fear and immature coping with life and coming out into the open, into that spacious, free life beyond the box, living in greater fullness? Not letting go of fear but embracing it! We create a space in our soul for uncertainty and in that space of the unknown, we are faced with our fear, but instead of running from it, we let it in. What we are actually letting go of are all the mechanisms we use to cope with fear, and having no other recourse, we stare the scariness in the face. Embracing uncertainty dictates that we let go of the need to figure it all out, to control our environment, and to seek old comforts.  Almost instantly, our child ego starts to melt away and our adult ego that has been present all along begins to emerge. A sense of adventure and opportunities begins to emerge. This space of uncertainty is also a space for faith to flourish. We are not letting go with the immature expectation that God will give us a different comfort, but rather a faith that he has got us no matter what, and in that knowledge is great assurance. God can do so much in our lives, but he can only work in the space we provide for Him. In the same way He doesn’t come into our lives unless we invite Him, He also doesn’t push us around internally trying to free up space without our permission. When we do allow Him into that uncertainty, the possibilities of what He can do in and though your life is endless. The faith to face the fear becomes the fire that burns away the false infrastructure and makes way for the fullness of life.

Being Good Doesn’t Get You Into Heaven

I was watching a movie over the weekend that depicted an apocalyptic scenario in which people were getting wafted up to Heaven in a beam of blue light, and in order to get to Heaven they had to do some kind of genuine, unselfish act. As much as I applaud the idea doing acts of unselfish love, it reminds how much we have the idea of salvation and going to heaven all wrong.

Despite what you might think, being good does not get you into heaven. If that were the case, why did Jesus have to die? If we could get into Heaven on our own merits, we would have no need for a Savior.

It’s funny how unbelievers will say that religion is nothing more than a man-made device to control the populous and get people to behave a certain way, when the whole idea of following Christ has nothing to do with trying to be good, but rather trusting God’s work in you. Only He can make you right, based on what He did on the cross. He made all things right, and as we surrender to the work He has, is, and will do in us, we are transformed more into His likeness.

Don’t you think the world is broken and schizophrenic enough, with most of us either striving to get it right or acting out on our fears because of some abuse or hurt from the past? That is why they call it Good News, because God just wants to love and embrace us all and heal our broken heartedness and pain and forgive us if we will just let Him. Invite Him in today and let Him do a work in you. It sure beats all the depression and heart ache of a life of self-right-ness (self-righteousness), or trying to get it right on our own. He can and will make you into the person you were meant to be, what you were born to be.

Three Kinds of Religion

When we hear the word religion, for most of us, there is a negative connotation connected to this word. I know for me, for years now, I have pushed away from any connection to the word religion, associating it with systems, structure, rules, a man made box to put God in that has little to do with the love of God and the freedom he brings. In fact, religion denotes anything but freedom but rather bondage to all the precepts and the guilt and shame that comes with it.

The actual Latin root of the word is “ligio,” meaning to tie or bind together. An example is a woman having her tubes tied, or a tubal ligation. To “re-ligio” means that something that was once tied became untied, and it is now re-tied or bound together again. So in this case, the actual meaning of the word is to be tied back to God, or intimately re-connected to Him.

Religion that the Bible calls true religion is found in James 1:26-27; “Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.”

So the last two definitions of religion go together. When we are tied to or connected with the heart of God, his love compels us to take care of the least, last and lost. To meet the needs of the homeless, the brokenhearted, those who desperately need to know the awesome love of God. Looking at it this way, I guess I don’t mind being called religious after all.

Brand New

“What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.” – 1 Peter 1: 3-5 (The Message). I wonder how many of us truly realize this and live it. I don’t know how many wasted hours I have spent in self-examination, trying to figure out why I do some of the things that I do, or don’t do some of the things that I should do. How many hours have I spent trying to change, to be better, to be less selfish and get out of God’s way. Why do I struggle with self at all when I have been given a brand new life?

This may not be the best analogy, but it’s the only one that comes to mind as I sit in the waiting room of a car dealership. Let’s say we have an old car that is giving us constant troubles, in and out of the repair shop, being miss diagnosed half the time and at others being fixed properly only to break down again. One day we get tired and decide to get a brand new truck, but we can’t afford it. Just then, after our umpthteen trip to the dealership, a salesman walks up to us and just gives us a brand new truck. At first we are miffed and in disbelief, that it’s too good to be true, but then we accept the reality of the situation and feel extreme gratitude. We drive the truck for a week or two still trying to get used to the idea of having a beautiful new vehicle that is worry free, but then we settle in and smile, getting used to the idea of no more repairs.

Would we then, at that point, go back to trying to figure out what went wrong with the old car, what we could do differently to keep the old car out of the shop again, feeling the sting of that old car constantly letting you down? No, of course not! That old car is in the wrecking yard now. It matters not anymore! You have a brand new truck now!

The same is true with our new life in Christ. Everything is made new! We don’t have to worry about the old life, that life is dead and gone. “So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!” – Romans 8:12-14 (The Message). And again, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – 2 Corinthian 5:17. This new life is a wonderfully expectant and exciting one, one driven by God’s Spirit in us. It’s all a matter of shifting our focus to what is right there in front of us, a new life. Take the keys, jump in, and enjoy the ride of your life!