Why Have Religion?–Wednesday's Wondering 12 February 2020

God never offers you a Religion; He offers you and me Relationship.

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Lately I’ve been thinking about preferences. Not the preference of purchasing the name brand or the store brand. I’m thinking deeper; thinking about those questionnaires that have that asks you for your preference on Religion. Are you Christian, Buddhist, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, New Age, Mormon, Jehovah Witness? The list goes on. And usually there is that last choice: None of the above.

I remember several years ago when I went to a pre-admit for a procedure my cardiologist had ordered. The nurse was asking the usual questions. And one made me laugh, and she did too when I answered her. “Do you have any memory loss or lapse of memory?” I replied, “Not that I recall.”

And when it comes to the answer of my Religious Preference, I think from now on I’ll respond: None Of The Above. No, I haven’t become a None or a Done; well, maybe I am a Done. Yes! I am a Done! I’m Done with

  • Form rather than substance
  • Appearance rather than growth
  • Going through the motions rather than passion
  • Appearance rather than character of heart, mind and actions
  • Promoting doctrine rather than proclaiming transforming Grace
  • and most of all Religion rather than Relationship.

Do you really think that Jesus gave up heaven for Mary’s womb? Gave up a Throne to be placed in a feed trough? Gave up being praised for the mockery of the crowd while hanging on a cross? Did He do that and so much more just so we could have a Religion? So why have you accepted only a Religious Preference as a “thing” He wants you to have?

God never offers you a Religion; He offers you and me Relationship. Relationship carries us and guides us through the complexities of life on this orb called Earth. Relationship takes us from what we really are to who we are created to become. I’m Done with Religion. So when I answer one of those Religious Preference questionnaires I’m marking None of the above. Oh, you can keep your Religion and be short-changed, but not me.

But He’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.

Micah 6:8 (The Message)

Change In Names–Saturday Stories 25 January 2020

(Today’s story happened in 2004, but it will always be a part of the unfolding story of who I am and who I am becoming)

Would It Be OK?

When Debbie and I started dating, it wasn’t long before I met her granddaughter, Rileigh Breeze.  I quickly became known by her as “that ‘nother Randy.”  I was known as “that ‘nother Randy” because they had a long time family friend also named Randy.  So, when Rileigh Breeze talked about “Randy”, she needed a way to clarify which “Randy” she was talking about.  Now to her, it just made sense to call me “that ‘nother Randy” since the first “Randy” had been a part of her life for longer than I had been.  One day she was telling her “Auntie” something Randy had said.  But she quickly added, “Not Randy Randy, but Grammaw’s Randy.  You know, that ‘nother Randy.” 

It wasn’t long before I was known in Debbie’s family as “that ‘nother Randy.”  And I was OK with that designation.  It certainly eased the confusion as to which Randy was being discussed.  It made for clarity in communication, and besides, it was a cute and humorous way that Rileigh Breeze had made this distinction between the two Randy’s. Without something to make us distinctive, it would be confusing to know which one was which.  (If you think it would be confusing to have two family friends named Randy, how about 3 different people not only sharing the same first name, but also the same last name.  Yes, there are at least 3 different people named, you guessed it:  Randy Burbank; and yes, we are all cousins.  And please, no comments about the “Bob Newhart” show:  This is my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl.)

Debbie and I had been dating almost a year when I asked her to become my wife and partner in God’s ministry.  Not long after we announced to her family that we would be married, Rileigh Breeze was talking with her Grammaw about what this meant and the changes that would occur; the biggest of which would be that Grammaw would move across the state, 2 hours away.  As best we can remember, during the conversation, she asked, “Grammaw, would it be OK if I called him Grampaw instead of that `nother Randy?”  And the first time she called out, “Hey, Grampaw” I knew something special had happened. 

Of course, she melted my heart, but something else happened.  Our relationship changed from one of friends, to that of family.  Even though there is not a genealogical connection, even though there is no shared DNA between Breeze and myself, she is and will always be one of my granddaughters, and I will always be her Grampaw.  The cultural designation would be she is a step-granddaughter, but not in my heart.  Debbie and I do not have step-grandchildren, only grandchildren. It was amazing to me the first time I heard Rileigh Breeze call me “Grampaw”.  Our relationship changed and took on a lot more depth; and it all happened when she called me by the name:  Grampaw.

Moral Of The Story

When God calls us by name, there is, without a doubt, a sound of love in the way He does it.  I knew there was a deepening of love between Breeze and myself, but it didn’t hit me until she called me by the name, “Grammpaw”!  God is constantly calling to us by name, and I want to encourage you not to be too busy so as to miss that moment.  Every time God calls you by name is a sacred and powerful moment that offers to change our relationship with Him with ourselves, and with others.

And why does God call us by name?  Because He has said:  “For I have ransomed you.”  Ransom is an interesting word in the Hebrew language.  It means:  “to act as a kinsman (family member).”  God wants us to know we can experience a family relationship with Him.  When I married Breeze’s Grammaw, I was no longer a friend, I was a family member and she acknowledged that with my new name.  God wants us to know that we are kin, we are family. 

Take The Combo!

It’s not a matter of need. It’s not a matter of choice. It’s not a matter of want. It’s a package deal–a combo meal if you would. But this Combo Meal does not come in regular or large or super-sized proportions. So, you don’t have a choice there. It only comes in the Eternal Size. True, it’s far more than you can handle in one sitting–but that’s how it comes.

And you can’t make substitutions or additions to it. Nope, it just comes in one Way. This Combo Meal is God–the Father-DADDY; the Son–Jesus-your brother; and the Holy Spirit-your Friend. They are ONE but not the same. Each is unique AND they are equal.

Yesterday morning in my “4 Minutes” time (which is how I now describe my morning devotion time; and it’s usually MORE than 4 minutes), I was talking with all 3 of Them and I just blurted out, “Wow! You 3 are some kind of combo meal!” All 4 of us laughed at my outburst. And it got me to thinking about this Monday Musing.

The Church Of The Anemic, which describes much of Western Christendom, has found itself this way from many reasons. One of the primary reasons is that the Average Pew Sitter neither appreciates, nor understands the unique Combo of The Trinity. Some want a father-figure; some want a get-out-of-hell-free-card; and some want a kind of feel-good-feeling.

The Holy Combo Package is an all or nothing offer. I’ve heard, and in my more younger and foolish days, call the Holy Spirit “it”. The Holy Spirit is not an “it”, but a Person. I use the word “Person” because this wordsmith hasn’t found another way to describe from a Time-Focused perspective the Infinite And Eternal Truth.

I am concerned that many have the view of The Holy Combo that I held in my younger, immature and more foolish days; that they exist in a hierarchy–Father is the Big Guy, Jesus is Middle Management, and The Spirit is the Floor Supervisor. Eventually, I came to understand the fallacy of such thinking. And when I read The Shack, by Paul Young, the Floodlight came on. I realize some have an “issue” with this book. Chill out! It’s only a book–but it shines with insight and wisdom. Now if your issue with the book is The Father being a big, black woman–remember He once spoke through Balaam’s jackass–and I’ve personally heard Him speak through other jackasses even today.

I could go on, but let me bring to an end this Monday Musing. As you do your “4 Minutes” with God each morning, think about ALL 3 OF THEM. Talk to each one at a time, and to all 3 of them at once. If you don’t like Paul Young’s images, come up with your own images; but remember God isn’t white middle class, or whatever your personal culture looks like. If you want God, you gotta get The Combo. And if you want a combo without some things or a couple of extra things, go to the McDonald’s Drive Thru. You can’t get that with God–It’s all or nothing.

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!