How many of you have been “badgered” to go to church on Sunday? How many of you have gone just to quiet someone up – be it family or friend?
The old saying “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” applies, even if the water’s holy!
From experience, I believe a spiritual journey is a personal one. Only you can put forth the effort to develop a relationship with God. You can take the kids and the spouse and try and make them learn and understand, but until they are ready to meet, learn and embrace God wholeheartedly you can forget it – they won’t drink the water.
Since it’s up to the individual to discover their own spirituality, the point of this article can only be made through personal aspect.
My better half, Gina, has been trying to get me to go to the church she frequents for quite some time now – Hope Presbyterian – that makes me the horse (of course). She keeps saying things like “It’s different! I really like the pastor! You’ll like it! I promise!”
Over the last couple of years, I’ve developed a very strong, devotional understanding of God and religion. I’ve discovered it’s easier for me to keep the stress out of my spiritual life by keeping the two separated.
Gina persisted and finally used, “Just go for me… please.” She’s a very successful realtor because she is polite and persistent! I say she should have been a lawyer!
I had a good time – it seems God didn’t waste my first time to Hope. Several things happened to reinforce my personal beliefs, while making me understand that there’s more to religion than I realized.
I’m a student of energy. I enjoy things that promote good energy and stimulate me in mind, body, emotion and spirit to enhance becoming a holistic being. I’ll honestly say that Hope satisfied this as much as any church possibly could. They have a very talented band, stimulating visuals, great singers, and the stage was incredible!
That morning they also had Baptismal ceremonies, Senior Pastor Craig Strickland baptized everyone except the last which was an infant – when Assistant Pastor Eli Morris stepped in. When Eli crossed the child's forehead with holy water, the kid looked at him like he was crazy! I wonder if the kid was thinking – ‘I’m a baby. I’m covered. Duh!’ or ‘You’re wasting your time!’ or ‘Who do you think you are?’ or ‘You’ve got some nerve Eli!’
God has a sense of humor - so does Eli, Craig and the congregation! For me, this totally re-enforced that He wanted me to personally discover him as an adult – don’t fake it and don’t let anyone else try and dictate my beliefs.
The sermon was an end of the series called: Conversations with God
In Craig's sermon, he stated, “Regardless of what religion you are… you can have a relationship with God.”
This statement stood out to me, because I’ve been having a relationship with God without any religion for quite some time.
I’ve bucked and fought with religion for years. I personally feel by denominating myself I would be picking a side – in which case all others are wrong and mine is right. I’d be judging others, unable to evaluate and listen and continue a much broader and more informative spiritual journey. I’d be closing myself off – and what if that was wrong?
I finally decided I can have God in my life on my own terms – following my own instincts.
Can you have a relationship with God, without religion – yes you can! I’ve done it for a while now, and my life has been completely enriched – getting better every day! I’ve never been more faithful and spiritually blessed – in a word whole.
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. What I’ve come to realize is to be a spiritually holistic, you must have religion – you’re not whole if you cut something out. Religion helps keep things in perspective and offers a better understanding of the world.
The fact is religion introduced me to God. As a child, geographic location and heritage decided which religion would acquaint me with God. I’m thankful for that. However, the church preached things I couldn’t believe and would not accept. The dominating statements quickly made me rethink my position. They may be right and I may be wrong – but that goes both ways. I’m going to follow the instinct and freedom of choice God gave me.
I’ve developed a personal holistic faith - Why settle to learn from one religion when I can learn from them all? I believe in one God and I have great faith in Him. I believe He wants me to learn all I can without prejudice – to try and get a better understanding of the world and my place in it.
I don’t worry about converting others to my beliefs. I believe spirituality is personal and to be real it must be discovered genuinely all on your own.
I don’t have a specific church either, but I still have God.
It doesn’t need to be Sunday to honor God – I can do it every day. I can do it also not just with talking with Him, but also by my choices and actions.
This Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday, attend the church of your choice. If you’ve ever been curious about other religions, go and learn. Don’t make up your mind without all the facts.
If you want to live a life without religion and church – just make sure you hold on to God. He’s always there.
I’ve been in this world without Him – it’s no fun. In fact it was miserable – hell I suppose.
Craig also spoke of letting go of resentment and hate for others – Gina said that helped her, which may finally get me off the hook for some of my stupidities I’ve done and will do! (See guys – it was worth the trip!)
Many things were reinforced from my visit to Hope, but the most important thing I took away from it was this:
I’m falling short on spirituality by blocking religion out. Religion is a huge part of our life here on earth. Man has used it to wage wars that have resulted in countless deaths. But it’s all God’s plan and I’m humble enough not to pretend to understand it. I’m here to live a life to make Him proud. To embrace things without judgment, learn and develop – become whole. I can’t shut out things just because I don’t fully agree with them. I need to take what is given, grow, exercise my freedom of choice, and believe honestly.
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