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Bad Religion

You don’t need religion to have God. There is no specific prayer you need to pray, no certain clothing you must wear, nor special buildings you must utilize. God wants us in whatever fashion we choose to come to Him, because He just wants us.

Through Jesus, God gave us an example of a prayer in what is commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer,” but we can come before Him in prayer in many ways, with our own sincere words. Our clothing matters little, as long as it does not send wrong messages to others. After all, John the Baptist wore animal hides and was said to be a wild looking man. A church building, no matter how beautiful, is still only a building. The church is the people, and we must not forget that.

Religion is like food these days. Additives. Preservatives. Genetically modified. And all sorts of words and fillers that nobody can pronounce and have no nourishing qualities. I just want some non-GMO, all-natural, organic God. It’s as simple as reading, studying, and following the Bible.

It’s not about following a strict set of rules. In fact, the resurrection of Jesus made it really simple, and no matter how many hoops religions make for their followers to jump through, no one can earn the grace that God has already offered to us. It is about having a personal relationship with Him and loving people…all people… not just the ones in our church building.

This is why I love the church I attend and helped launch so much (Epic Church). We call it “a church for people who don’t do church.” This last Sunday, we gathered in our usual building (which is actually a cafeterium at a local middle school), and then headed out into various places throughout our county in order to serve our community by cleaning, painting, building, feeding, loving, and just generally serving through projects to fill needs through an event called 3G Sunday (Go, Gather, Give). At least 341 people signed up to be part of this, and I am so blessed to be part of a church that does something as cool as this. I’m not telling you to come to my church; after all, you could be reading this from the other side of the globe. I’m just saying that you should think about what your church really stands for and what it really means to accomplish. Is it in line with real biblical truths? We are meant to love one another, serve others, and have a strong community.


Anyone Can Make a Change

“Be the change that you want to see in the world,” wise words once spoken by Mohandas Gandhi follow me, surround me, breathe me in and spit me out on nearly a daily basis, and yet I often don’t do anything about them.  Until I let these words absorb into who I am and my daily actions, they are meaningless words that just sound good together.  How hypocritical of me to talk of loving others, but then not go through any motions to show it.  I think it.  My heart feels it.  But I often don’t do it.  I need to commit to the action of showing love in order to truly make any impact of change in our world.

I teach my students to “Show, don’t tell” when writing because it makes for more interesting writing.  How much more interesting is it to “Show, don’t tell” real actions of love and compassion?

The last statistic I read about our world’s population was the estimate that sometime before the end of this year we would break the 7 billion figure.  Let me put that into zeros for you:

7,000,000, 000.

Lots of zeros, right?  Now imagine if every one of those people just did one small thing on a daily basis to help or encourage a friend, a neighbor, a loved one, or even a stranger…  What an amazing impact we can all make as a collective mass of humanity.  Sort of the whole “pay it forward” concept (though I saw the movie and it was actually depressing).

See, we often feel our small impact will be negligible in the grand scheme of the world, and so we just don’t do anything.

“Don’t fail to do something just because you can’t do everything.”  Bob Pierce

An old parable (my paraphrase):

After a violent storm ripped through the coastline, thousands of starfish were washed up on the beach.  A young man went for a walk to assess the damage and saw an older man off in the distance, repeatedly bending down and standing back up.  As the young man got closer he saw that the older man was picking up one starfish at a time and casting it back into the sea, which seemed ludicrous to the young man as they stood amidst thousands of stranded starfish.  So he asked the older man what he was doing.  “What difference will it make?  There are thousands of starfish out here.”  The older man stooped to pick up yet another starfish, tossed it into the sea and replied, “It made a difference to that one.”

That’s good stuff right there, and I remind myself of that little story whenever I think I cannot change anything or make any difference in the world around me; after all, there’s so much help needed.  But we can each be just a little bit of the change our world needs, if we all participate.  Small gestures to big gestures… we just need to do what we can.  Maybe it’s buying a restaurant gift card anonymously for a couple whose husband is out of a job and they never get to go out (Thanks to whoever got us the Olive Garden gift card when Robert was unemployed.  No one ever fessed up, but it meant the world to us at that time), or just a smile you give while you pass someone walking out of the grocery store.  Maybe yours is the only smile that person saw all day.  Maybe you are the one who can give a hug or encouraging word to someone who is thinking of ending his or her life, because you are there and listening.

You CAN be the change you wish to see, and then maybe others will follow your example.

This beautiful song and photo montage really captures my message.  Carrie Underwood’s “Change”

“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”  -Deuteronomy 15:11