Religion And God (Are they the same thing?)


Let me begin by saying I’m not trying to bash your religion or the things you hold most sacred. I’m not making a case for one religion above another religion. I’m not saying everything your religion has taught you is wrong. Instead, I’m asking you a question; a question that may spell the difference between happiness and freedom and misery and obligation. Are you sure the things you do and say in the name of God are in alignment with what God says about Himself and your relationship with Him? Are your religious beliefs and your belief in God the same thing?

In my experience, religious people seem to be the most unhappy people on earth. They live and move and have their being ever fraught with some nagging sense of disapproval from a god whose requirements they can never live up to. They are guilty and condemned, always apologizing, always wrong, always convinced that what they do and say is inadequate and fails to measure up. They endeavor to live an impossible code with pleasures perpetually questioned and good times requiring caution. They sincerely love God but they conclude God doesn’t love them. They are compelled to answer every accusation. Their motives are constantly under the microscope. In short, the people who should be the most blessed are often the least blessed with even the unbeliever outpacing their achievements. Yet, they love the God of all blessings. How can this be?

The problem is found in not understanding the things that are important to God versus the things that are important to men. Religion’s aim and focus is always man and what man does and what man doesn’t do or that he shouldn’t do. Religion’s promise is the glorification of man’s acts and man’s experiences. In religion, men judge other men based on their behaviors and pronounce one man righteous and another man sinful. Religion seeks to elevate some and reduce the others. Religion is hard, damn hard! Religion teaches people to doubt themselves in favor of another’s opinion. Religion smacks at the heart of God because it is not based on what God says. Instead it is based upon the doctrines and commandments of men. God provides a good way to live and religion adds to that good way by introducing requirements that God never intended. Religion puts burdens on men’s shoulders. There is no love in obligation. That which you do that you do not want to do becomes a compulsion from which no-one gets blessed. Giving without love as its motive becomes religious duty where I scratch your back in the hopes that you will scratch mine. It’s an exchange wherein you now owe me something. For centuries, men have engaged themselves in rituals and observances that make no sense to them. Yet, they continue in them despite it.

I say these things not to anger you, but rather to ask you to think for yourself. If doing God’s will is so miserable, then wouldn’t that make God miserable (God forbid!). Do you really believe that God is bland and rigid and narrow? Would it make sense for Him to be opposed to enjoyments that He invented the capacity to enjoy? Could He, being all-knowing, be illogical or whimsical? Would He ask you to believe in something you could not understand, or worse try to make good things out of evil events? Our problem, our failure is in discounting our human logic in terms of common sense. Would someone that reportedly loved me at the same time torture me or confuse me or punish me? Would He do inexplicable horrors to me and my family for some reason I can’t yet understand? You see, it’s not God who told us these things, it’s religion. Religion requests that we suspend our common sense in favor of so-called higher spiritual realities. Religion begs us not to think at all. In this way, religion controls and limits our experience of life. Men and women are herded together on paths leading to failure and loss. When something bad happens to someone, religion points that wrong back at man and how man is living or not living. Pretty soon you become responsible for all of the evils in your life instead of the true cause of your unhappiness and loss. Religion sucks man and I feel sorry for anyone who has gotten sucked into it.

In stark contrast, the things of God make perfect sense. The things of God aren’t opposed to science, they are the forerunner to science. Someone made this world with all of its detail and symmetry. Someone invented the concept of love and forgiveness and kindness. Someone dreamed up the notion of human beings. Do you think you can surprise or shock God with your behaviors and the things you come up with? Is that sexual desire that God built into you really evil or just wrongly expressed? You see, religion gives God a bad rap. It turns Him into something silly and capricious. It makes Him impossible to please and not a loving Father at all. It turns your focus away from the God who alone can deliver you and places it back on yourself where you by yourself are powerless to do anything about your difficulties.

I offer these words in the hopes you can hear what I’m saying and be set free. All of those burdens you are living under; all of that guilt and condemnation; all of that focus on your own imperfection and weakness is not God’s will at all. Instead He asks only that you turn your focus towards Him. Don’t suspend your logic, use your logic! Maybe all that super hard work you have been doing to get to heaven isn’t a requirement to get into heaven at all. Maybe all of that denial of self and pleasure and fun wasn’t something God said, but instead something that people say. What good is a Savior if you still have to save yourself? Why would Jesus have paid for your sins if you still needed to make a payment? The ways of God, the true ways of God never hurt but only help you. God is a Father and no-one loves His children more than Him… You can escape the bondage of religion if you want to and it starts and ends with God. Is religion and its dictates the same as a relationship with God? God forbid…

I love you.

Just some good thoughts…

The Self-Focus Trap…


Assuming you are a logical person, it would appear the more you focus on yourself, the happier your life would become. So much is written concerning the need to take care of yourself, refuel yourself and make time for yourself and most of it is probably good. But, what if incessant focus on yourself produces the exact opposite results than you intended? What if your focus on self can actually be detrimental? Is it possible that your sincere focus on improving yourself actually impedes you from making any progress? Are you looking in the right direction or have you unknowingly become distracted? Is perpetual focus on self a trap?

Most things in life that cause us to stumble do so because we are unaware of the true cause and effect relationship at play. We spend our lives trying to rid ourselves of some negative effect by focusing on the wrong cause. In so doing, our efforts are squandered away chasing apparent realities that are not realities at all. We exert tremendous efforts to remedy our situation but find no remedy, not because life is too hard, but because we have the wrong focus. This is the very essence of deception. We fall prey to it so easily because we trust what people say and laud those opinions over the truth. We trust our always self-centered logic and conclude we can figure it out. We are loathe to admit that we cannot! If you have a problem and let’s face it, we all do to some degree, it is so because we have not yet touched upon the right solution. In earnest, we seek for a solution and subsequently apply a hundred-fold recommendations, never entertaining the idea that the solution escapes our comprehension. In this, we waste our lives and our time caught up in an endless cycle of error, working harder, trying harder, exerting more effort towards something that will never yield the right result. In short, our starting premise is wrong as evidenced by our inability to find the answer; the real cause of our problems.

It has been said that the things man produces always reveal the imperfections of man, while the things God produces have no flaws in them. No matter the human masterpiece, closer inspection reveals imperfections. Conversely, the things God makes not only have no flaws in them, but the closer the inspection the more perfection is discovered. Similarly, the more you seek to understand God, the more His perfection becomes apparent. Yet, the closer you inspect corruptible man and his ways, the more imperfections you will find. When you spend your time dwelling on and investigating your human ways, no matter how noble your motives, the more you will find your own imperfections and flaws. You will never find perfection within yourself, no matter your sincere efforts and arduous labor. Instead, you will find more and more not to feel good about and more areas of your life in need of revision. You think it is noble and pleasing to God that you spend your life trying to make your imperfections righteous, but your starting premise is already wrong; namely that you by your human efforts can make your imperfections perfect. In this, you waste your time and in this you waste your life. How many Christians spend their days in endless self examination, ever condemned and disapproved, ever conscious of their human flaws and shortcomings, ever defeated by an insidiously wrong starting premise? To the mainstream Christian, every action is wrong, every thought corrupt, every motive questioned. All enjoyments are to be examined and all concepts of fun are to be rigorously discarded and rejected. Yet, in this they persist to their own misery and lack of true fulfillment all based upon a starting premise that isn’t true; that was never true.

God’s job is to fix the things we cannot fix for ourselves. We were all born with a sin nature that is easily corrupted. Our natural tendency, after the fall of man and the introduction of sin to mankind, is towards error. It is in our blood. The more you search within yourself, the more apparent it becomes. Yet, instead of investing so much effort to fix it, we need to let God fix it for us. God’s solution for us was to provide a perfect man, without sin in his blood, who by the freedom of his own will, walked and lived God’s Word perfectly. He is our savior who saved us from ourselves. He ended the need for us to fix ourselves; repair ourselves and SPEND All OF OUR DAYS FOCUSING ON OURSELVES and everything we do and don’t do right. He made it possible for us to stop dwelling on what isn’t right with us and change our subject of focus to Him and what He did for us. We are right because He (not we by human efforts and hard damn work) made us right in His sight. And as contrary to human logic as it appears, our focus is to no longer be on what isn’t right with us, but rather on who God and what He made us to be.

Sounds so simple because it is true. Our job, your job is stop focusing on yourself and stop working so hard to figure out your own problems. Read that again! You won’t figure out these life dilemmas; these life suckers by your human intellect and strength of will! How has it been working for you thus far? Instead, give your issues to God, one by one and let Him do God’s job by getting you to the real solution. He already knows the real cause! In so doing, now you are beginning to think how God designed you to think! Self-focus and dwelling on self do not produce the results you desire. They just steal away your life and enthusiasm and energy on false causes you cannot truly effect. Get your focus off yourself and your issues and get God involved with your solution. Self focus is a trap from which God will gladly help you escape… Free yourself!

Just some good thoughts…

When the Dust Settles…


You know, it’s no marvel that many folks spend the majority of their lives living from one turmoil to the next. The world and its negative circumstances, the impending and ever present threats concerning the future, the agitation and tumults of daily life, all loom on the horizon assaulting folks minds from sunup to sundown. And all of that turmoil and distress has one important object in mind, namely to prevent you from seeing clearly and discerning properly. Imagine how different your life might be if you could cut through all of the distractions and really see. What would you do differently? What would you do if the dust settled?

Most people, and you know it’s true, live and subside on a steady diet of fear. Fear of sickness (got one in mind), fear of not having enough, fear of not measuring up or being pretty enough or not having the right body. Fear of not getting their needs met, fear of something bad happening to them or someone they love. Fear concerning the planet or the sun or the melting icebergs. Fear of not being loved and feeling love and missing love. Fear of the future, fear of the past coming back to haunt them, fear of being present in the moment. Fear all day every day from the moment you wake up in the morning until you lay down your head to sleep at night. People have subsisted on fear for so long that they no longer even recognize its presence. Fear has been normalized as part of life. Fear drives and drags people around in its wake pushing and pulling them in directions they never intended. If people manage to escape its grasp temporarily, they quickly fall back under its spell. Fear rules the world and the systems of the world. Often, very often it has ruled you! Yet for all that power fear holds over people (and its very powerful), at the end of the day, it is all a grand, cleverly designed illusion to control the hearts and lives of people. Fear is the dust that prevents you from being able to see.

Clarity of heart and mind is the missing ingredient in an unfulfilled life. In order to move confidently in the direction of your dreams, you have to be able to see. You have to be clear about who you are and what you want and where you are going. You have to cut through that mountain of clutter obscuring your view and discern just what the hell is actually going on. The world with its teeming masses clamoring after this novel invention and that new threat to their existence live the majority of their lives unclear and confused. They fail to get their honest questions answered. They live their lives perpetually attacked by an opponent they can neither see nor feel. They pray to a God they neither know nor understand. They plod along herded and corralled into wrong thought camps with no possibility of escape. It never dawns on them that there is a part of life they have yet to experience for themselves. They conclude they’ve already reached the end, figured it out and can choose wisely on their own. Yet, they cannot and they cannot because they cannot see! It is only God who is able to make the dust finally settle so that you can see and He does it with the light of his Word. Absent the Word and the truth in life, you are destined to a life of fear whether acknowledged or not.

Once you begin to get some truth into your heart and life, things become very clear for you. It starts to dawn on you that many things that are said and done as truth are in actuality cleverly, crafted lies. You begin to be able to discern both the good and the evil influencing your life. You start to understand how life really works and stop wasting your time striving to things of no avail. You quit working so desperately hard to fix yourself or to improve your bad behavior or to keep grinding at all costs to make something good of yourself. You see, the world presents to you a picture of life with suggestions in how to improve it. Yet, those improvements, those efforts, those arduous solutions are not solutions at all because they center on you for you and all about you and they deny the God that made you! Absent God and His love you will never be able to really see. You will simply be blown about with every wind of doctrine, clamoring to try this new source of help and that empty promise of the answer you need. It doesn’t work and it never has worked… Real life isn’t all about you (or me) but is about the God who created you. He is your only true provider and your only genuine source of help. He has the answers you need. He offers the healing that has no limitation. He knows and understands your heart; has heard your every prayer and wants to set you free from fear and its attendant misery. He is your promise of love and goodness and peace. He alone has the power to make the dust settle so that you can finally see clearly and can understand His wonderful, sincere and perfect will for your life!

This life, as you already know quite clearly, can be very tricky to navigate. You will daily be deluged with thousands of opinions and ideas and suggestions. You will be confronted with both evil and counterfeit good. You’ll be presented with a myriad of potential beliefs all offering something they cannot truly give. Yet, when all of the shouting and the clamor stops, when all of the fighting and tumult is ceased, when all of the falsehood and error goes away, when all of the pressures and the agitation subsides, behind it you will hear the still small voice offering you the clarity you have always dreamed of and then you will know the dust has settled at last.

Just some good thoughts…