Friday, October 28, 2005

Another great deveotional

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More On Religion and Spirituality
by John Fischer

When you give a gift to someone in need, don't shout about it as the hypocrites do--blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. (Matthew 6:2 NLT)

I don't know how many of these sayings are floating around out there, but I may have uncovered something significant. Earlier this week I quoted one of our readers as saying that a religious person sits in church thinking about fishing while a spiritual person goes fishing thinking about God. (Not at all meaning to imply that the spiritual person is fishing in place of going to church, by the way. The point is simply that spiritual people worship God with a heart that permeates everything they do, while religious people may look holy, but not have their heart in it.)

Now someone has sent me this: “A religious person is trying to avoid hell; a spiritual person has already been there.”

Religion is the nemesis of Christianity, and these types of contrasts point that out. Religious people are stuck in a religious points system that keeps track of everything. They are actually pretty confident that hell can be avoided based on their own point tally. By contrast, keeping track is the last thing spiritual people want to do, because their track record condemns them. They believe that they deserve hell and get heaven by God's grace. Spiritual people are constantly pinching themselves because they can't believe their good fortune. The last thing they want to do is tally up points, because that will only confirm what they already know: they don't have enough. Never will.

I think I'll try my own hand at this:

Religion is a system; spirituality is a state of being, made possible by a relationship. Religion is trying to please God; spirituality is enjoying God. Religion is Martha fussing in the kitchen; spirituality is Mary listening at the feet of Jesus. Religion keeps the score; spirituality keeps the faith.

And yes, spiritual people have been to hell and back, because that is how they came to know God in the first place. They all came to the end of their rope in some way, calling out desperately to God and finding Him there, eager to listen and respond. It's the hellish kinds of experiences that have brought them to realize their need.

No one can be found unless they are lost; no one can be saved unless they are drowning. Spiritual people realize this because they have been rescued. By contrast, “Jesus saves” means nothing to the religious because they have nothing in their determination from which they need to be saved. Religious people have too tight a hold on their own lives to ever let go. Spiritual people let go and find that God is always there to catch them.

Consequently, when spiritual people serve, they do it out of full hearts of gratitude. When religious people serve, they do it for points, and as Jesus said, they already have their reward (Matthew 6:2).

You can see how religion has kept a lot of people from Christianity. It's a shame, because there couldn't be anything farther from the truth of what it means to know God.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Another great devotional

A Promise Kept
by John Fischer

In today's crowded marketplace, few people have the time or inclination to bother with claims, Christian, or otherwise. Words are not enough. People have seen and heard it all. Relationships that mean anything are made on promises that transcend thinking or words. These promises are rooted in trust because they become promises kept. What does that mean to keep a promise?

I have a friend who will shut the door on his office and bear his heart to me. This is a huge privilege and not anything to take lightly. This man has trusted me with his deepest inner feelings and frustrations; what am I going to do about that? Say I'll pray for him and walk away? Offer some advice and a few scripture verses? No, I'm going to try and do something about it. I'm going to look into whatever resources I have that might be able to shed some light on his situation. Yes, I'm going to pray about it, but I will also agonize over it, as if it were my own problem. In fact that is an important part of fellowship. What is his becomes mine in some way. If it doesn't I haven't given up anything for anybody. Isn't that what it means to bear someone else's burdens?

What is true fellowship if it isn't this? We stand inside each other's shoes. We look at the world through someone else's eyes. We see them and we see ourselves in the same situation.

Look at Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. He got inside her shoes and saw someone well aware of her own guilt. She didn't need to hear she was a sinner -- she already knew that -- she needed to be forgiven. In contrast, the guys standing around ready to stone her never had a clue about her because they never got out of their own holy shoes to even give her a second thought. Elated that they had caught a sinner red-handed, they knew they were right on this one. And of course you know Christ's response to them. Since they could not see their own sin when they looked at her, they had His permission to stone her to death.

If I look at someone else and see only their sin, I have Christ's permission to do the same. (I know of what I speak. You should see my rock collection!) But if I look at someone and see my own sin, my need, my frustration, because I have identified my need in theirs, then I have no stones to throw. My hands are free. I can help.

You can, too. And isn't this the kind of help we all want: Help from someone who understands and passes no judgment?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Dont miss it

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