God’s response to Legalism: Jesus Christ!

The word legalism is a well known, and potentially overused word in the Christian realm, yet an important one, and probably misunderstood too. In the fifteen years I spent in a legalistic church, it was a word those fake, sincerely wrong, easy believing Christians used to say they could sin whenever they wanted…so I brushed it off.

But after spending some time reading Paul’s works, and especially Romans, I started figuring out what it was, and what God thought about it. As a matter of fact, I realized the only people Jesus Christ judged during his ministry wasn’t the harlot, the adulteress, or the tax collector, it was the legalists.

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Out of Context: Matthew 18:18 Whatsoever you bind on earth, is bound in heaven.

In our series of Out of Context topics, we will talk about the misappropriation of Scriptures used to either garner control or gain material wealth from congregations. Scripture teaches clearly that the Word was not to be used in this fashion, and yet with humanity involved, it seems almost inevitable, past, present, and future.

Today’s topic is Matthew 18:18, something I’ve heard used incorrectly to prescribe absolute authority to those in positions of spiritual authority.

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 18:18, KJV

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Who Is the Divider of the Brethren?

This is positive I promise! Today I was blessed to have two meaningful conversations about religion – one with a distant relative I didn’t even know was a relative, until today, and another Facebook contact that shares the wandering spirit I have. In both conversations, the same topic came up – who is dividing the brethren?

There is so much division in the world right now, just watch the news! It’s always left vs. right, north vs. south, east vs. west. There are a hundred and one million reasons people decide to hate one another for, on a daily basis! Want a real treat? Join Facebook and just watch the divide go rampant.

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Faith & Wisdom from Uncertain Places – Music

I think most people around my age (nearing 40) would agree, most modern, top hits music just isn’t that much of a hit. You have bumps, and grinds, tunes, and rhythms, but the mmph just isn’t there – there is no real depth, it seems shallow and its only purpose is to survive the charts for a few weeks.

What made music stick in the past and last for decades? Was it the voice? We have lots of those today. Was it the music? You can synthesize a professional band in minutes with modern software – what made some of that older music really stick to your bones and endure?

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Why I write about Cults

I’ve done two series now, the first on the Gospel Transition from Jews to Gentiles (and why that is significant in interpreting New Testament Scripture and Recognizing Talk/Patterns of Cults. In doing so, I’ve had to ask myself the question – why are you doing this? (Others ask me that too…) Well, I want to give the answer, and it will be short I PROMISE!

Most of my blog posts are in depth and long, meant to be meat and potatoes, educational posts, built with a purpose – but I have learned something in doing these – short and sweet topics of interest get much better attention. So this will be sweet, and short.

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What is Speaking in Tongues?

I have to say from the outset, that I am both an expert by experience/practice, and absolute ignoramus on this topic, which is why I have decided to write about a hot, contentious, real and active conversation in the Christian world today. Speaking in Tongues. What is it? Is it real? Is it for us today? How do you do it? Do you know you are doing it? Can you learn it? Is it a divine inspiration?

It seems to me like it is definitely a love it or hate it type thing in the Christian world. If you promote/practice it, you might be some kind of special whacky. If you deny it, you must not be reading the Bible…

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Recognizing Cult Talk/Patterns Part 2

Part 1 of Recognizing Cult Talk/Patterns started with a quote from psychologist Margaret Singer, noting that it is actually quite easy for someone to be drawn to a cult. They [leaders of cults] are always overly charismatic, always full of promises for a better future if you but follow their ways, always just what the hopeless person is seeking – attention, love, brotherhood, companionship, financial reward, and most importantly, promises of eternity. <-Insert Hook->

At this point you could say…that describes nearly every religion out there, and to a degree, it certainly does! Yet, there is a point in which a group tips the balance from open faith to controlling behavior, exhortation becomes authoritarianism, reproof turns into punishment.

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Recognizing Cult Talk/Patterns

Times of uncertainty create perfect hatching grounds for leaders and groups of all types to spring up, offering peace, comfort, salvation, the clear and true path to enlightenment, or the only way forward. It should be clear that cults do not orient solely around religion, religion just seems to be where it is easier to pick off adherents.

One thing is certain, people have and will continue to fall prey to these ravenous wolves, and it is our purpose and duty to help provide clear and adequate warning signs. Also to provide adequate support for those who do fall in the trap. The most common side effect, just like a drug addict is to berate oneself, to feel stupid, or ashamed – how could I be so gullible?

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Religious Semantics, Splitting Hairs

Have you ever wondered, “If Religion, specifically the Christian Faith, is about unity (and it IS supposed to be!), how can there be 33,000* stated denominations in Christendom?” One man created a religion [Jesus] that rocked the western world forever, one whose message of unity that spread like a wildfire, has been divided so many times that the message is almost lost in translation…literally!

Furthermore, there is real heat between denominations – like fans of a sports teams who have real, emotional issues with fans of another team. Christians are supposed to be on one team, yet we’ll cannibalize internally, while simultaneously destroying the message of faith. Why? Semantics.

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The Least of These

What made the message of Christ so radically different than all the other religious movements, sects and groups some 2000 years ago? There were other philosophers, great teachers, leaders, movers, and shakers. There have been perhaps hundreds, maybe thousands of startups since then, if I can use a modern secular term here. Christ and Christianity flourished as a flower in a well-watered garden – yet it was planted in a desert of a racial divide, of war, genocide, and hate.

Having attended my first Global Leadershership Summit, I believe the answer lies in the core and fundamental message portrayed by a people from all walks of life, in different companies, charities, churches, and organizations, in different leadership positions and with different callings – to be brave in the face of loving others.

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