Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Being a Christian

Over the last several posts I have gone over various issues that are central to the Christian life. I have a bad habit of just assuming that people know me, and what I believe in. So I have dove in head long without really giving much of an explanation of the basics of my belief, or what I mean by the traditions, or law of man.

Being a Christian has very little to do with the music you listen to, the sticker you put on your car, how much money you give to the Church, or if you make it to Church every Sunday. Oh don't get me wrong, I know of many people that will tell you in no uncertain terms that all of the above are a vital part of being a Christian. Sorry, but I emphatically disagree. As a matter of fact I would go as far as to say the people that would tell you that have missed the point behind Christianity.

As I have said before, man has twisted religion so that it fits their needs; you have to look no further than all of the different sects of Christianity to see that. Most of the differences have nothing to do with the teachings of Christ, or the belief in God. For the most part all of the different factions cannot agree on what man wants religion to be. Some might tell you that you can't dance, or drink, or use birth control. Maybe they do not agree on the status of the Virgin Mary, or the recognition of saints. Whatever the case none of that has anything to do with your relationship with Christ.

The Lord gave us very simple guidelines to follow. Christ teachings centered on the love of God, and the love of our fellow man. (Mark 12:30-31) 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these."

As you read the bible, you start to see that most of these chains that bind us down with religion, are not laws given by the Lord. They are laws set by man to control the masses.
When Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees about traditions he replied,
(Mark 7: 8-9) 8You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." 9And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!

I think Jesus would say the same thing to many pastors, and scholars today.

We are given free will. Without choosing to follow Christ, our faith would not mean much. We have to choose to do the right thing. We have to choose what path to go down. Yes we have the two handfuls of law set down by God, then reinforced, and even expanded on by Christ. They are straight forward, and easy to follow. Remember that Christ did not come to the Pharisees, he did not call the ones who were thought of as "wise in the law" he called people like you and me. His teachings are pure, and were not meant to be twisted and shaped for the benefit of man. They were put forth for our salvation.

As a result, what needs to be professed, and talked about is the teachings of Christ. Not what one man, or a group of men has decided would be best for their congregation. I can promise you this, if you Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, then love your neighbor as you love yourself, you will find that all of the other laws will fall in to place. That is why those two were listed as the most important.

I hope this gives a general idea of where I am coming from.


Rev. T

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Matthew 5:19

19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

I want to bring this up because I believe that we are all guilty of applying the concept of the laws of man to the law of the Lord. What I mean by that is the laws of men are broken up in different categories. How bad of a person you are would depend on where you fall on the scale of the law. To murder someone would be much worse to a judge than to tell a lie. The murderer might be put to death; the liar might not even make it in to a courtroom.

The Lord does not judge sin that way; there is no sliding scale to the offence. In Matthew 5: 19 Jesus said " 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

Anyone who breaks the LEAST of these laws.... The smallest sin is just as bad on offence as the biggest to the Lord. It is all sin, and there is no work around for any of it. The liar is just as offensive, as the murderer. The difference is in the forgiveness. If you repent to the Lord, your sins will be forgiven, this is another vast difference between the law of God and the law of man.

The gift is found in the forgiveness, the Lord loves us. Truly, more than we can comprehend, if we are repentant for our sins they will be forgiven; however we must offer the same forgiveness to those in our lives. In Matthew 6:15 the Lord says, " 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. “. So in order to be forgiven, yes we must be repentant, but we must also extend that forgiveness. If the Lord is willing to forgive me of all of my infractions, how can I not forgive my brother?

We as a Christian society need to take a step back and realize that when it comes to sin there is no "better than you" mentality. We are all sinners, walking the path to the Lord, we will all stumble, and there is no difference in our sin. To the Lord it is all the same. How often have you heard, or perhaps even said, "Well at least I do not do that"? We must remember that there is no "at least", we do not get to hold our sin (even if we consider it small) above anyone else's sin, as if to say that I am better than you because I did not commit that big of a sin.

We are all striving to be the best Christian that we can be. Everyone might be on different spots along the path, but our job is to help each other along the way, and hopefully bring some others on to the path with us. To forgive, offer compassion, and love, that is the path of a Christian.


Rev. T

Monday, April 28, 2008

It's not about the money

“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).

Through out the bible we see many passages about giving. As the passage above shows, we give to receive. When we help others that help will always find it's way back to us.

When I talk to people about church, the first thing that most complain about is the continual passing of the plate during services. I have to agree. It seems that more and more today, the church focuses on getting money, more than helping improve the congregation’s spiritual life. I find distain as the plate is passed from one to the other, each looking to see what the other dropped in. You will hear me say this often; it's Christianity not competitive Christianity. We all do what we can.

It seems to me that most have more time than money, and some more money than time. I think it is very important to remember that there is far more to do within the Church than give money away. People’s time is far more valuable, and it is just as hard to come by. Take time out of your schedule to help spread the word. Help someone in need; make time to help someone see the Lord's grace. The important thing is to remember that it is not how much you put in the plate that counts. All the money in the world will not buy your way in to might buy your way up the ladder of some churches, but make no mistake that ladder will stop just short of salvation.

So do not be bullied, and let yourself miss out on the wonderful offerings that can be found in Church services. Know that it's not about the money; it is about you and your relationship with Christ. The Lord is well aware of what you can do. So do what you can, when you can. Do not get caught by the snare of Competitive Christianity.

We are here for each other, to advance the word of God. Not to get caught up in the bickering of who does more. We should help one another, and be there for one another. It is well known that even the disciples bickered among themselves about whom the favored one was, who gave the most, who served the best. When they questioned Jesus on this in Matthew 20: 26-28. Jesus told them:
"26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
It is clear, that for us to follow the path of the Lord, we must serve others. That is the objective, just as Christ gave his life for many, we must give of our time, to help those in need. I'll say it again. It's not about the money.

PeaceRev. T

Friday, April 25, 2008


John 15:12-13

12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

Love each other as I have loved you. A concept that here again we often overlook. So many Christians today are so eager to say that they in fact follow the teachings of Christ, yet they become hostile, and take on a posture of pretentiousness when they find someone that does not believe as they do. At that moment they are as far away from being with Christ as the man who has never heard of him.

We are instructed to love our neighbor as our we love ourselves (Mark 12:31) Jesus felt so strongly about this, that he said it was the second most important law. The only thing that carries more weight is loving God. That being said, why do so many feel so compelled to become hostile, and scornful when coming in contact with someone who believes differently, or does something that is not in line with that "Christians" beliefs?

Could anyone be so naive as to think that repeatedly kicking someone and yelling that they are wrong will produce a positive result? The only thing I ever felt when I saw a "Christian" making a case for God at the top of their lungs, was a felling of "I need to get away from that person", and why would anyone want to conform to a belief system that causes that much rage?

We need to all take a step back and take a look at ourselves, and how we handle that situation. We should have love for our neighbor. We should have hope, and offer encouragement. If we have made an honest effort and still have made no head way, then we should leave them alone. (Matthew 18:17). Notice it says to leave them alone, treat them as a pagan, or a tax collector. It does not give you the right to condemn them.

It take a tremendous amount of love to try and love one person as Christ loves us, let alone letting it flow out to all of those around us. It is our calling nonetheless. All one has to do is take a quick look around to see that there are many out there not even making the effort. At the mall, in traffic, dealing with loved ones; the overwhelming theme is me, me, me, me. In a world that touts self-service, and self-actualazation, it is hard to swim against the current, but if we are to be sucsessful, and portry the true love of Christ, we must try.

As I have stated before, we do not know God's plan for ourselves, let alone another person. It is not our place to try and take the role of God and condemn someone. We should try to show the way; but a person cannot see anything when they have been beaten down to the ground.

We should love each other as the Lord loves us. We should practice patience, and compassion, not judgment, and condemnation. We should work daily to be a living example of the Lord's love. I know what your thinking, it is too hard, or I just can't do it. I tell you the truth, if you try you will succeed, but you have to make the effort.

PeaceRev. T

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Gardner

John 15: 1-4
1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself.

The Lord is at work in each of us daily. We like a fruit bearing vine need trimming from time to time. We are human, not everything we do is right, we do not always stay on the narrow path. through the grace of the Lord we are trimmed of the non fruit bearing branches.

I think a lot of people miss the point behind keeping in Jesus. Many think that we follow the teachings of Christ to save ourselves from hell. That is far from the point. We follow the Lord for our salvation. The law of man saves us from sin. If we follow the law of man, nothing happens. By following those laws, our life will not improve one bit. However when we follow the law of God we receive eternal life. The pay off is not that we "do not go to hell". The payoff is going on to our salvation.

We are saved in Christ already, all he asks is that we follow in his teachings.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Ephesians 2: 1-10
1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

This passage always reminds me of the song Amazing Grace. It is by the grace of God we were saved. God has raised us up with Christ and seated us with him. If you will let those words sink in, you will realize just how powerful that statement is! We were dead in our transgressions, we live in a world surrounded by people still dead in their transgressions, and sin. We must remember that we are God’s workmanship, he has our path planned for us, if we will just choose to follow it. I understand, better than some, just how hard it is to stay on that path sometimes. In the world we live in today it is very easy to be an object of wrath. In some cases today, it is not only acceptable, it is expected! These are the times that we must remember the two most important laws, Love your God with all your hear, all your might, all of your soul, then turn and love your neighbor as you love yourself. The first part is a little easier, the second part is a challenge. I believe that for us to do the good works that the Lord has planned, we must first follow those two laws. For us to save our brothers, we must first forgive them their transgressions, as Christ forgave and continues to forgive ours.

Rev. T.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Timothy6: 6-10

6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

Contentment…..a concept that is not widely accepted in our society today. It seems that no one wants you to be content. You must have more, want more and need more, less you get left behind, and not have all that you can possibly amass. However when it comes to God, people take the exact opposite approach. If most people would spend half the time working on their relationship with the Lord, that they spend working on their career, or what they are buying next, they would find a level of peace, and a better sense of direction. I am not saying that we should ditch everything in an attempt to gain spirituality. We are Christians, not Buddhist, but we should put more trust, and faith in the Lord and his plan. I promise you, he will make the crooked way straight, and he will provide what you need.

Peace, Rev.T

Monday, April 21, 2008


I was asked if when I was talking about judging people, if I was talking about non-believers, believers, or both. While I do believe we have to treat each other (believers) with a higher level of expectation, I want to take the opportunity to try to illustrate the differences in the way we use the word judgment and what I was trying to say yesterday. This is a little lengthy, but it is a complicated point of belief for me. I believe it is a matter of balance, and remembering we are a small part of a greater plan. I do think that a lot of people are ready to judge well beyond their ability, or their right, and then there are many people who do not want to judge at all. I believe there is a difference between not agreeing with something, or someone, and rejecting it (judging); and condemning (judging) something, more importantly someone, because we do not agree with them. The word judgment is used both ways in the scripture, and I think it is an important difference.

Below are several examples of the judgment that I believe we should not take part in. What speaks to me is that we should not Judge (as in condemn) other people, that is the Lord’s job. I believe the instances below show that we should not look at anyone, and place ourselves above them… if to say I am right and this makes me better than you, or judge peoples worth by what they have. Lastly I think it shows that although we might know God’s word, and follow the Lord’s plan for us. We do not know his plan for everyone else. The wicked today might be one of the most righteous tomorrow (look at Paul) or the righteous today might be the wicked in the end. As a result we cannot condemn anyone. All will be judged when the time comes.

Matthew 7: 1-5
1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Luke 6:
37"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
James2: 2-4
2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
1 Corinthians 4:5
5Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

James 4: 1-12
11Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Conversely, I do believe that we should discern right from wrong. Especially within the Church. As the readings below show, we do have to decide (judge) between right and wrong. We have to be on the look out for false prophets, the wolf in sheep’s clothing. We have to separate ourselves from the wicked. We should settle our differences among ourselves. We have to judge for ourselves and make personal choices everyday. All the time being sensitive to the fact that when we do make a judgment, especially against someone else, we will be judged by the same measure. However here again, I cannot find anywhere where Jesus has instructed us to be the judge of anyone’s soul. We might make decisions, we might judge people by their actions, but we do not know what God has in store for anyone, as a result we cannot judge (as in condemn) anyone. We can only try to show the way, then when we are rejected, we should be done with them, and treat them as a tax collector.

It is a hard thing to keep in perspective, but a very important one nonetheless. So should we judge? Yes we have to on some level, but we should not judge, nor should we allow others to judge, as if we were the Lord.

1 Corinthians 5: 12
12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."[b]

1 Corinthians 6: 4-6
4Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church![a] 5I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers!

Matthew 18: 15-1715"If your brother sins against you,[b] go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'[c] 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Rev. T

Friday, April 18, 2008


Matthew 18: 21-22

21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" 22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

I wanted to start with this passage because I think that forgiveness is a huge part of Christianity, yet it is so often overlooked. True forgiveness is a challenging thing to practice. I believe it is also often misunderstood.

We are told that we should forgive others for their sins against us, so the Lord will forgive our sins against him. (Matthew 6: 14-15). Now that means that we have to truly forgive. Forgiveness today is more of an "I'll let it slide" type of forgiveness. People say they forgive, yet they hold anger, or hate in their heart over the situation that has occurred. That is not forgiveness. Would we want to stand before God knowing that we had asked for forgiveness for our sins, but thought that God still held malice towards us for our transgressions? Of course not. However that means that is how we should forgive those that ask for our forgiveness.

Now that does not mean we should be a doormat for people. Just as you must be remorseful when asking for forgiveness form the Lord, the people that ask for your forgiveness, must be remorseful. I think the most important thing is they have to ask. If someone wrongs you, and they are not remorseful for it, there is no need for forgiveness.....Perhaps that is not a good way of saying it......we have to forgive weather they ask or not. We have to give that forgiveness for our sake, not theirs. Resentment will eat you alive like a cancer. Maybe a better way to say it is that we should forgive, and then shake the dust from our sandals when it comes to dealing with those who are not remorseful. That does not mean that we should plot and plan to repay the wrong with more wrong. We should always remember to repay evil with good (Romans 12:20) that does not mean that we open the door to these people and let them back in to our lives with forgiveness.

To sum it up, we must practice true forgiveness. We must forgive people for their wrongs, as we want the Lord to forgive ours. Without forgiveness there is not much need to move forward.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Getting Started

I want to start off by saying that I really think we need to get back to the basics. If anyone has spent any time reading the Bible, I think you will agree that man has done a wonderful job of perverting religion for their own gain. I do think we need to get back to basing our relationship with Christ on the teachings of the Bible. I know, a lot of people will say how do we know what is in the Bible today was not distorted along the way. This is what we do know. Clement and Irenaeus both agree that the Gospels have been together as a book since not long after the death and resurrection of Christ. It is true that the books that have been found were written in Greek, not Aramaic, but Greek was the language of the times, and widely distributed literature would most likely be in Greek. The letters that followed later by Paul, and John, are all well accepted as true text.
That being said, it is clear to me that the Bible is the key to leading a good Christian life. Not what Oprah has to say, or the latest "new age" religious figure might be spouting. The words that Jesus spoke are as true and full of meaning today, as they were when he spoke them. If we would listen to the teachings of Christ, and work to apply them in our lives, our world would become much less complicated.

Rev. T