Religion VS. Relationship

July 21, 2009

(The following is an excerpt from my upcoming newsletter…:-)

Religion VS. Relationship

Religion is man’s distorted, manipulative attempt to harness the god story and use it to further his own selfish purposes.

Relationship is God’s idea of how we’re to co-exist – with him and with each other.

Religion is based in fear, guilt, shame, and bondage.

Relationship is based in love, freedom, peace, and self-expression.

It is vital that each one of us recognize that there is a difference, because I have seen so many people go through their entire lives with spirits that are in such severe atrophy and anguish that it’s a wonder to me that they are still alive. And I don’t use that wording lightly.

When you begin to understand that man’s religion is different from the Creator’s model of relationship, everything begins to change.

Seeing relationship instead of religion makes us look differently at ourselves and our relationship with God.  Instead of seeing ourselves how man sees us – and attempting to live up to some distorted, guilt-ridden code of conduct – we are allowed to see ourselves as free, as powerful, and as beautiful.

Whereas religion seeks to reduce the individual to some kind of robotic, indistinguishable clone that never does anything bold or dangerous, a thriving relationship with the Creator God brings us a colorful, purposeful life filled with greatness and brilliance.

When we are in relationship with the Truth, with God, it means we no longer have to live with the idea that we somehow don’t make the cut.  He’s already made the way for us to be called “worthy, family.”

It changes how we look at our earthly relationships.  It forces us to consider the idea that we are all connected in some powerful, eternal way – again, to each other and to God.  Which, if that’s the case, then we have got to learn to treat each other better, right?

If religion divides us and puts us into all these little categories and then tells us to hate everyone not in our little category, then relationship kicks down the walls and tells us that we are all connected, and that the fundamental elements holding all of this together are love, not hate.

Freedom, not fear.

Joy, not sorrow.

Life, not death.

So today, will you be religious, or will live like you’re in the best relationship in the universe?

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I Saw Jesus Today

July 19, 2009

I Saw Jesus Today

“Yeah right.”

“Impossible.”

“What?”

I imagine those are some of the reactions you may have had when you read my headline, but it’s true.  Let me explain.

In Scripture (Matthew 25:31-40), Jesus says something profound.  He’s talking to a group of people – some who love him and some who hate him.  He’s talking about two kinds of people…the people who stop to clothe and feed and care, and the people who are too “busy” or otherwise ignorant to the plight of those in trouble.

He says that those who have cared are going to be invited into the party.  Those who didn’t, no party.  My paraphrase.  This is the 21st century version, ok?

He goes on to say to the first group, basically, “when I was hungry, you fed me.  When I was naked, you clothed me.  When I alone, you comforted me.”

As the story goes, this group of people who are like “What?  When did we feed your or clothe you or comfort you?”

Jesus then says one of the most profound statements in all of history, one that holds incredible significance to me.  He says “Whatever you’ve done for the least of these, you’ve done for me.”

Meaning, when they saw someone who was hungry, and then gave them food, they were actually, in some metaphysical supernatural way, feeding the very belly of God.  They were mystically giving comfort to the Creator of all things

Really pause for a second to digest this.  If this is true, then what does that mean to you and I?  Could it really be that when we go get groceries for that old lady down the hall in our apartment who smells like old pee we’re actually buying groceries for Jesus?

When we see the guy at the end of the bar, smoking his cigarette, staring blankly into his beer looking so sad, and we feel compelled to go over and offer him some words of encouragement, are we really, in some strange way bringing comfort and joy to the Author of all the Universe?

On the other hand, Jesus says to the second group “Depart from me…” And they’re like, “When did we see you hungry or naked or thirsty or in need?”  And Jesus reminds them of the times when they didn’t pause.

The time when they were too busy updating their Facebook status on their iPhone to stop and hug the sad woman in the grocery store.

The time when they spent half their marriage finding fault and being ruthlessly cold to their partner.

Now, without getting too into it, this is where grace comes into play.  We are going to mess up and be mean and fail to help.  It’s a given, no matter how hard we try.

Yet the moral of this little tale is to live your life with the attitude.  It’s a long-term lifestyle that we can practice each day.

So to that end, and with all these layers in place, let me tell you how I saw Jesus today.

I was at an office building, and I saw a lady getting out of her car.  She was in obvious discomfort, hobbling and straining.  I’ve seen this woman before, and she’s extremely kind and pleasant, and I’ve noticed that she has some kind of challenge.

So I asked her if she needed help, to which she responded that someone from the office usually comes out to help her in.

At that moment, this blond-haired guy comes running – I mean sprinting – out of the office building with a giant smile on his face, as if this – helping this nice little lady – was the highlight of the day for him.

And I almost started crying.

In that instant, I saw Jesus.

I didn’t know Jesus was blond or that he wore a Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Champions shirt or that he had an American accent.

And I didn’t know that Jesus was a short little African American woman with some kind of muscular disorder who struggled to get out of a car.

Yet there was no denying it was him.

Today, ask yourself the following questions: where is my opportunity to touch the Creator?  How do I care for “the least of these?”  And when I see these opportunities, will I ignore them?  Or will I embrace them?


July 10, 2009

Thanks for the plane ticket tips! Lex is going to Cali for a wedding and it’s coming up fast, lol! Anyone else have trips coming up?


July 10, 2009

What email newsletters/blog feeds do you get that you LOVE? What do you love so much about them?


July 9, 2009

Anyone have a great tip for finding cheap flights? What time of day is usually cheapest?