★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★   

Here is the very first Daily Dependence post which has been updated with an audio podcast called ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★

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Click hereif you would prefer to listen to the Podcast of this blog post.

Does the title of today’s Thought surprise you?  One day in the office, a co-worker said to me, “I hate religion.”  He was surprised by my response when I said “so do I.”  Knowing that I am a Christian, he naturally assumed I was “Religious.”  I told him that “Religion” is just “Man’s” way of understanding or attempting to connect with God.  Unfortunately though people are hurt and oppressed by “Man-made” rules and then they blame God for what people say or do to them.  Mark Twain once said:

That is so true!  He gets blamed all the time for what people do in “His name,” but what God really desires is to have a personal relationship with us, through His Son Jesus, where we include Him in all aspects of our life.  I truly believe that you can “Hate Religion” and…

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★ Day 17 – Reason for the Season – Consumed with Busyness ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1

17 - Daily Dependence - Dilbert - Christmas PartyI love this comic for two reasons…One because I have worked for companies that scheduled the “Holiday Party” in January to save some money…(kind of defeats the purpose)…and the other because it opens today’s “Reason for the Season” with reminding us of the “stuff” that has to be done.  In yesterdays ★ Day 16 – Reason for the Season – Gifts from the Heart ★ we explored how to break the spirit of greed and materialism and adopt a new mindset focused on Jesus and others.  To close out that “Reason for the Season,” and transition for today’s, here is a powerful insight from David Jeremiah,
17 - Daily Dependence - Consumed with BusynessI pray as the Advent Season has been a time for reflection and renewal in how you view the 25 days leading up to Christmas.  I know that today’s title has probably tipped my hand in where this is going, but before that, let’s talk about all the great things about this time of year.  Prior to going artificial, finding a Christmas tree and the decorating process has always been a sweet time of connection with our family as we reminisced over the various ornaments from different years and seeing old photographs in some of them.  Back when we lived in the northeast, I loved going ice-skating at Rockefeller Center, though if you 17 - Daily Dependence - Flipsidewere on the ice at the same time, you would need to keep a wide berth from me as I am an unstable skater!  Christmas Caroling, great food, and of course presents come to my mind as well!  There is a magical feeling of good will and compassion for one another…It’s the most wonderful time of year!  But as my uncle once told me, “there is a flip side to everything.” Amidst all the merrymaking…comes the crowded malls, endless list of presents to purchase, lights to be strung up on the house, Christmas cards to address and get out in time, and of course the resulting credit card bills after Christmas.  There is even a Christmas Carol Parody by Bob Rivers about the flip side of Christmas called the “12 Pains of Christmas.”  Growing up it was one of my favorites.  It’s easy to lose yourself in all the chaos of the things that have to get done.

My wife sent this comic to me and it just cracked me up!

17 - Daily Dependence - Countdown to Star WarsEven if you are not a fan of the most epic, awesome and mind-blowing space odyssey ever conceived and executed on the silver screen, you are well away of the much-anticipated Star
Wars Episode VII, The Force Awakens that released last night!  A good friend of mine has been sending me countdowns17 - Star Wars Countdown to when we are hitting the theaters with the kids to see it!  As you can imagine, this has had my attention but the only think that can rival Disney’s endless marketing, is the incessant barrage from retailers trying to create a panic…”Time is running out”…”Act now before it’s too late”…”Only 7 days left until Christmas”…and so on.

So how has your Christmas season been going?  Have you been feeling pressured as the “To-Do” lists grow, and your schedules is jam-packed?  It’s no surprise that people get stressed out with so much to accomplish.  When you stop and think about it though, everything we consume ourselves with, is intended to make the most of this special time but it can end up leaving us drained and stressed to the hilt resulting in the opposite desired outcome.  Whether it be because of procrastination or truly too much to accomplish, I believe a lot of the craze is a result of not building in enough margin in our life…enough time to shop, enough time to drive from point A to point B, enough down time, and ultimately enough sleep…We are consumed with busyness and if we are not careful, the hustle and bustle, will cause to miss the “Reason for the Season”…the remembrance of the birth of Jesus…and ultimately steal our joy away from this wonderful time of year! But there is hope; if we could get our priorities straight we can have peace even with the lists.  17 - Daily Dependence - Billy Graham - Make Room for JesusI read this article from Billy Graham, “Make room for Jesus as you observe Christmas,” and this point really got to me about how are priorities…

“must bring great sadness to God to see the way we’ve treated His Son – not just at Christmas, but every day of the year.  The problem isn’t just that we’ve become preoccupied with material things…Nor is it only because Christ today is banned from our public celebrations of Christmas…The real problem is within our souls…Tragically, we still have no room for Jesus in our lives.”

If the whirlwind of “things to do” that I have been talking about describes how you typically experience this season, I want to encourage you to not let this year go by the same way. You can have peace…Day 8 of the of 121 Advent Bible Plan gives us some motivation too…

“When we live in peace, God is glorified because He is the God of peace. We reflect Him through peace, but we also receive lives of good, of flourishing. This is why peace matters!”

Christmas can be a great opportunity to reflect on what God has done for you, and all the blessings in your life…which I hope the past 17 days have helped you along the path.  Henri Nouwen Defined Christmas this way,

“Songs, good feelings, beautiful liturgies, nice presents, big dinners, and sweet words do not make Christmas.
Christmas is saying yes to something beyond all emotions and feelings.
Christmas is saying yes to a hope based on God’s initiative, which has nothing to do with what I think or feel.
Christmas is believing that the salvation of the world is God’s work and not mine.”

Christmas is saying yes Jesus and following His example.  He was the ultimate example for TRUE HUMILITY.  During this time I like to take stock in how I am measuring up, to become more humble and less self-absorbed.  I would like to say I am further along but I have blown it many times.  I love this definition from John Maxwell on what Humility

“Humility is a true recognition of our strengths and our weaknesses and then a willingness to be secure enough to admit our weaknesses and allow other people to come alongside of us.  Because a humble person is one, who seeks other people’s advice, their help, asks questions and understands as my friend John Wooden one time said, ‘It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.’”

Humility is about recognizing our own short comings and allow yourself to be molded by others.  It is also about being that for someone else, and not miss an opportunity to make an impact those around you because you are consumed with getting stuff done.  So with humble mindset, here is a fresh way to look at the “To-Do” List…Let’s push aside all the distractions and this year let’s commit to:17 - Daily Dependence - Christmas List

  1. Be Present
    – Let’s put down the iPad or smartphone and really engage with those in front of us.
  2. Wrap Someone in a Hug
    – Let’s look for an opportunity to show the love of Christ to someone in need.
  3. Send Peace
    – It used to be a letter, but you can always send a text, Facebook message or email to someone you haven’t talked with in a while to let them know you care.
  4. Donate Food
    – Find a food pantry to serve at or help to feed those less fortunate.  There is a great opportunity on tomorrow in Dallas if you are free…click here for more information.
  5. Make Love (…keep it G-Rated)
    The Bible says in John 3:16 (NIV)…

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

17 - Daily Dependence - Doing for OthersBe the hands and feet of God where you live, work and play.  I will take a moment to share something very special that my 12-year old daughter made this for me last weekend for breakfast that made my day!  I share this to inspire you to find some way big or small to bring some love into the people’s lives around you!

  1. Be the Light
    There is such negativity in the world…a pervasive atmosphere of hopelessness, pessimism, skepticism, abounds and I believe that is a result of a lack of people who genuinely care for anyone other than themselves.  Martin Luther King, Jr. said,

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” 

Be the light that drives out the darkness!  In Matthew 5:14, 16 (NKJV), Jesus said, 17 - Matthew 5-14_16 - Let Your Light ShineHow different would this world be if this list was the kind of busyness we were consumed with??  How different would we be if we did approach it that way?  And the great thing is, you can start today and if you continue, there is a bonus for you…You will feel less stressed and depressed.  Mark Twain gives us some great advice…

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer everybody else up.”  

I saw this happen in my life just two weeks ago when my oldest daughter had a piano recital at a local Assisted Living Facility.  I love to watch her play piano but if I am being honest with you, the timing was terrible.  It was at 2 pm on a Saturday and my “to do list” for that day was packed…But as I watched the residents slowly enter the lobby with canes, walkers, and wheelchairs, I felt God move in my heart and gently show me how much I had to be grateful for.  It also reminded me of my mother who since having a stroke now lives in a similar facility.  As the recital went on and I surveyed the room of over 30 residents in attendance, it was incredible the joy these“young Mozarts” brought to the residents who probably don’t have many visitors.  17 - Daily Dependence - Playing Piano for People in an Assited LivingThis woman in particular got my attention because she put her hand out after each performance to “high five” the child to encourage them that they did great!  You can see the beaming look in her face, she was being the light.  As I soaked in that moment, my “to do list” that was so important just an hour earlier was now gone from my mind and I felt so strongly…This is what Christmas is all about!  Being the light to those around me is all that matters!  17 - Daily Dependence - Paint brush Gift from the ResidentsWhen the recital concluded, the children were blessed with this special Paint Brush Gift that the Residents made for them to say thank you!

You may have noticed that this post came a day late and I do apologize for that!  I too was consumed with busyness but for a wonderful reason…Tonight we are doing a presentation for my in-law’s 50th Wedding Anniversary and I was in charge of the PowerPoint that took longer than expected…Hahahah!  Though we missed a day, we will still post 25 Days of Thankfulness, we just run through December 26.  I will close with this question, how do keep Christmas in your heart and not be consumed with busyness?   Steve Maraboli will help us with that answer…

17 - Daily Dependnece - Steve Maraboli - Keep Christ in Christmas“Want to Keep Christ in Christmas?

Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

Here is a link to a very cool modern interpretation of the historical events surrounding Jesus’ birth and how it might have been had a social network existed at that time.

A Social Network Christmas

I leave you with this blessing from Philippians 1:2 (ESV)

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 18 – Reason for the Season – Jesus Is _____ ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness

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★ “Back to the Basics” – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian…Part 2 ★

74 - Daily Dependence - Religion Vs RelationshipThis is the first installment of our new segment called “Back to the Basics,” where we are looking into the fundamentals of Christianity, and getting back to the roots of our faith.  Though this is titled “Part 2,” you are not crazy, you have missed the one that was specifically titled “Part 1.”  Rather this is an extenuation and building upon of our very first blog post which is called ★Thought for the Day – Religion vs. Relationship ★ that really captures what “Daily Dependence” is all about!!

An atheist was taking a walk through the woods.

“What majestic trees!  What powerful rivers!  What beautiful animals!” he said to himself.

As he was walking alongside the river he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him.  He turned to look. He saw a 7 foot grizzly charging towards him.  He ran as fast as he could up the path.  He looked over his shoulder and saw that the bear was closing in on him.  He looked over his shoulder again, and the bear was even closer.

He tripped and fell on the ground.  He rolled over to pick himself up but saw the bear right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw and raising his right paw to strike him.

At that instant the Atheist cried out: “Oh my God!”

Time stopped.
The bear froze.
The forest was silent.
As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky:

“You deny my existence for all of these years, teach others I don’t exist, and even credit creation to a cosmic accident.  Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament?  Am I to count you as a believer?”

The atheist looked directly into the light and said, “It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps could you make the BEAR a Christian?”

“Very well,” said the voice.

The light went out.
The sounds of the forest resumed.
And then the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together and bowed his head and spoke: 

“Lord, bless this food, which I am about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord Amen.”

74 - Daily Dependence - Lord Bless This Food

I love that joke for two reasons.  The first, for the zinger of a punch line.  The second reason is for how telling it is of human nature.  Just like that atheist, aren’t we the same way?  It’s only when were in trouble that we call on God.  Well this post is  going to dig into the roots of our faith.  Religion vs. Relationship…This is very personal for me because there is so much ambiguity between these too seemingly opposing words which has wreaked havoc in my life.  I would like to break them apart and talk about one at a time.  Religion is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as a…

“Belief in and worship of God or gods. A specific system of belief or worship, etc., built around a code of ethics, a philosophy of life, etc.”

Let’s define Religious as well.  Religious is defined by the same dictionary as:

  1. Devout; pious,
  2. Of or concerned with religion,
  3. Conscientiously exact; scrupulous.

So religion can be a belief system based on a code of ethics or a philosophy.  It can also be the catalyst for wars, such as the Crusades, (in the Middle Ages) which were expeditions undertaken, to “deliver” the Holy Places from Mohammedan (or Islamic) tyranny.  Or it can be the fuel for hatred and the cause of much pain when misused.  Jonathan Swift once said,

Processed with Moldiv

“We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.”

“Religion” often times is a big turn off to the “unchurched” or non-church attendees.  Now when I am talking about religion here, I am referring to the system; the organization, and policies that have been established by human beings.  Adjectives such as “Holy Rollers”, “Hypocrites” and “Gossips” are often used to describe churchgoers.  Why is that?

James 1:26-27 gives us God’s reasoning…

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Religion has a way of altering people’s way of thinking and how they interact with unchurched people.  And whether an unchurched person misinterprets it or not, “religion” can turn someone off from getting to know the “reason” for the “religion” or should I say the source of the religion.  I know this well because I used to be one of them.  I grew up going to church and saw people not living the way they pretended to be, acting all high and mighty, gossiping about other people, when in reality they were far worse than those they spoke about.  I also had bad experiences with the church leaders being greedy for money.  So I decided religion is nothing that I wanted to be a part if it means that you turn into a hypocrite or become “money hungry.”  I blamed God and I walked out on Him and didn’t look back for many years.  See at that time I didn’t have a “relationship” with God, I only had “religion” and didn’t understand things as I do now.  I went to church on Sundays and attended a parochial school, but that was it.  I had set those church leaders on a pedestal, holding them to a higher standard, and let me tell you whenever you do that, you are just setting yourself up for disappointment because they are just human, just like I am, and just like you are; and humans make mistakes.  Do you know what is the saddest thing about being hurt by some form of religion?  The ultimate loser in the deal is God.  He is the one who is hurt the most.  You may not believe that but it is true.  Not only does God feel our pain but also the hurt that comes from our blaming Him for what man does to us.  Mark Twain said it perfectly,

          “God:  The most popular scapegoat for our sins.”

Isn’t that the truth?  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that religion is bad.  I am not putting down any religion in particular.  Religion is good, but in it’s the proper context.  There is a huge difference between having religion (or beliefs) and being religious (or self-righteous).  I firmly believe that you must have a set of beliefs or doctrine that is Christ centered and that you should belong to a church that you regularly attend for accountability sake, because it is nearly impossible to live righteously on your own, without some form of support and teaching.  What is critical to realize is that “religion” is there to facilitate our relationship with God, not to be ritualistic or for appearances.

In Mark 2:27-28, the Pharisees were accusing Jesus’ disciples of breaking the law by picking grain on the Sabbath.  Jesus replied and said to them,

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” 

In other words, don’t get hung up on technicalities, man was not created to serve the day, but the day was made for man to honor God.  Or another way to look at it, don’t focus on the day, focus on the “One,” who the day was created for to honor!

Religion can come in many different forms and deep down, whether people want to admit to it or not, everyone has a need to believe in something…And the reason why is because we were all created with a “God-sized hole in our heart,” that only God can fill.  Here is the point; all people have a need to believe, not in a “religion” but in a relationship, a relationship with God, our creator and father in heaven.  Take a look at the definition of relationship.

Noun: Relationship

– A state of connectedness between people (especially an emotional connection).

Now let’s insert “God” into that definition.

Relationship: A state of connectedness between people “and God” (especially an emotional connection).

God desperately wants to be connected with you and me.  He wants it so bad that He sent His son to Earth to show us the way.  (See John 3:16). When Jesus walked on this earth He spent all His time preaching about love, not about religion.  He talked about the love that God has for His children and what we need to do to see the father in heaven.  One day, an expert in the law, tested Jesus with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus responded in Matthew 22:37-40 saying,

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Notice He did not say to keep the Sabbath holy or not to commit adultery or not to commit murder.  You see if you love God with all your heart, soul and mind you will honor His day.  And if you love you neighbor as yourself, there is no need to say do not commit adultery or murder because it naturally would not happen.  Jesus had an uncanny way of cutting through all the bureaucracy, all the ritualism, all the hypocrisy, to get to the heart of the matter.  Essentially, He said to stop thinking so provincially…just keep these two commandments and you will keep all the rest.  Obviously with a radical teaching like this, Jesus faced a lot of opposition.  He continually had problems with the Pharisees trying to thwart His ministry.

The name Pharisee in Hebrew means separatists, or the separated ones.  They were also known as Chasidim, which means loyal to God, or loved of God, which is extremely ironic in view of the fact that during this time, the Pharisees were the most bitter, and deadly, opponents of Jesus Christ and His message.

In chapter 23 of the book of Matthew, Jesus made it very clear what his feelings were about the Pharisees.  Starting in verse 6-7, He said that the Pharisees:

“Love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them `Rabbi.’”

In verse 27-28:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.  So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”    

Now those are some harsh words and these are just the tip of the iceberg; within the same chapter and in other parts of the bible Jesus has much more to say.  I have one more definition for you…Webster’s dictionary defines the word Pharisee as:

\Phar”i*see\ (f[a^]r”[i^]*s[=e]), n.

One of a sect or party among the Jews, noted for a strict and formal observance of rites and ceremonies and of the traditions of the elders, and whose pretensions to superior sanctity led them to separate themselves from the other Jews.          

A self-righteous or sanctimonious person, preaching not practicing.

Note the last part of that definition…“A self-righteous or sanctimonious person, preaching not practicing.”  It is clear that Jesus’ statements and their frequent citations through the bible have resulted, in the word “Pharisee” becoming a synonym in the English language for “hypocrite.”

Jesus, himself, hated “Religion” when it was twisted and misused as in the case of the Pharisees.  The lesson to learn from the Pharisees’ example is that self-righteousness is not righteousness, and that God’s true people are to live according to all of God’s Word, not just certain parts that are most convenient or to one’s liking.  Jesus preached about having a relationship with the God, the father in heaven, not about lifeless rules or empty religious traditions.  But rather a relationship whereby we can pray to God saying Abba, Father which loosely translated means daddy.  God is our daddy in heaven with outstretched arms just waiting for us to take one step in His direction.       

In his book Reading between the Lines, Gene Edward Veith explains:

“That the heart of our religion is a relationship with God – and relationships thrive on communication.  We can’t know people intimately by merely being in their presence.  It takes conversation to share thoughts and personalities.”

We need to work, to cultivate our relationship with God.  It is not something that just suddenly happens.  Just like our earthly relationships, we need to put in the time and effort.  If we don’t we could fall away from the faith.

Christianity is real; it’s alive and anything but boring.  A relationship with Jesus is personal.  He’s there for you and me, just waiting to hear from us.  He is the forgiver of sins and our deliverer.  God loved us so much that He sent His son to die for our sins so that we could have everlasting life.  Jesus was the sacrificial lamb for our sins.

There is a bridge in Portland, Oregon that spans the wide Willamette River, called the Marquam Bridge.  It was built-in the mid-1960s; and was designed to accommodate a freeway that was still on the drawing boards at that time, which was to be called the Mount Hood Freeway.  But the freeway was never built.  Oregon voters opted for a light rail line instead, and plans for the highway were scrapped.  If you drive to the east side of Portland over the Marquam Bridge on the upper deck of that two-decker freeway, you can catch a 74 - Daily Dependence - Marquam Bridgeglimpse of the exit that drops off into empty space.  It juts out just a bit from the bridge structure, and then it is cut off as though sliced by a giant knife.  The “exit,” permanently blocked, now goes nowhere, except into the waters of the Willamette far below.  You can see Mount Hood in the distance…but you can never reach the high slopes via the Mount Hood Freeway, because the freeway doesn’t exist.  That’s the picture of man’s relationship with God ever since the fall of Adam and Eve.  We might understand that there is a God and even yearn to reach Him but that is impossible because of the distance between Him and us due to Sin.  That separation between man and God is too great to make it across by ourselves.  But God provided a way to bridge the gap over 2,000 years ago, through the death of Jesus on the cross.  He came to show us the way to heaven and only through Jesus Christ can we cross that gulf to God the Father.

74 - Daily Dependence - The Importance of Jesus

All you need to do is…

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  James 4:10

Today is the day is to establish or reestablish the relationship that all of us need with our creator.  Open the eyes of your heart and see what God is offering.  Maybe you have lost your way or maybe you are like me and have been hurt by “religion” and you are far from God right now  or maybe you are like that atheist walking in the woods never having sought God before.  Well today can change all of that.  If you are backsliding, you can rededicate your life to Christ.  There is nothing that could stop God from forgiving you and taking you back.  If you fall into the “damaged goods” category from being hurt by religion, I pray that your heart would be opened and that you would break the cycle of blaming God for the sins of man.   And finally, if you are sitting here tonight and you do not have a relationship with God listen to that voice you head, that tugging on your heart by the Holy Spirit and enter into the greatest relationship you could ever have by dedicating your life to Jesus.  Regardless of where you stood with your relationship with God when you started reading this post, you don’t have to stay the same way.  Humble yourself and give up the control of your life to the Lord so He can lift you up!

I want to extend the offer to anyone who does not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  If you don’t know what I mean it’s easy.  Give up the control and give your heart to Him.  All you need to do is accept the forgiveness that is available through the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross.

All you need to do is acknowledge that you are sinner and in need of a savior and truly sorry for your sins.  Today start anew and trust in Jesus who was the payment for our sins.  Just pray this simple prayer…

Lord I am a sinner.  I have tried to run my life and failed, I cannot do it on my own.
I need a savior.  Please wash me, cleanse me, and create in me a new heart.
I am sorry for my sins and I believe that Jesus died as the payment for those sins.
Please take my life I freely give it to you.

If you earnestly prayed that prayer, you are a new creation
(see Romans 10:9-10 and 2 Corinthians 5:17)!
God will honor that prayer of surrender and will do incredible things in your life! 

74 - Daily Dependence - New Creation - 2 Corinthians 5-17 - New Creation

Here is the next installment of the “Back to the Basics” series, called ★ “Back to the Basics” – Can 1 Conversation Change a Life? ★, I pray you will be blessed!

★ Thought for the Day – Mastering Fear ★

Many times I have been wracked with fear.  Afraid to say the wrong thing.  Afraid to fail.  Afraid to move.  We all wrestle with insecurities and uncertainties…many people end up making decisions that are a direct result of their fear but making decisions based on fear can have disastrous results…

On a “A Minute With Maxwell,” John Maxwell made this profound statement concerning fear…

“The problem with fear, is it causes us to be inactive, it causes us not to go forward…I do have fears in my life, but I also have belief and faith.  And I have found that if I nurture my faith and belief and make it a more positive emotion than the negative emotion of fear that the positive emotion will help me to take action.”  (You can watch the rest here…http://johnmaxwellteam.com/fear)

Believe in yourself and nurture it…Don’t let fear paralyze you from making that decision whether it is a new career opportunity, a cross county move or the new business decision.  Remember not taking action is still a decision, it is deciding to allow fear to win.

"Courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it."  Mark Twain
“Courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it.”  Mark Twain

Easier said then done right?  Do you ever have trouble trusting God in difficult times?  Stupid question…who hasn’t experience worry, anxiety, and fear at one time or another.  It is natural, but all though the Bible we are told “Do not be afraid.”  In fact it is written 365 times, one for each day of the year.  I was reading Exodus about the escape of the Israelites from Egypt, and the subsequent chase by Pharaoh and his massive army; and though I have not been faced by certain extinction, there had been many times that fear has gripped me.

Exodus 14:10-14 (NLT) says,

As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the Lord, and they said to Moses,

“Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness?  Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt?  What have you done to us?  Why did you make us leave Egypt?  Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt?  We said, ‘Leave us alone!  Let us be slaves to the Egyptians.  It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”

But Moses told the people,


“Don’t be afraid.  Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today.  The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again.  The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Here is a great parallel verse from Psalm 46:10 (NLT),

“Be still, and know that I am God!  I will be honored by every nation.  I will be honored throughout the world.”

Matthew 11:28 (NLT) gives us this additional comfort for times of trouble,

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Just like the Israelites, we need to remember to JUST stay calm and trust God.  If we do, then we will no longer be a slave to fear but rather Fear’s Master!!

43 - Daily Dependence - Just Keep Calm and Trust God

If you would like to read more on the subject, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Who’s Chasing You? ★ 

★ Thought for the Day – To Complain or Not to Complain ★

Mark Twain once said:

"Don't complain and talk about all your problems. 80 percent of people don't care; the other 20 percent will think you deserve them." 
“Don’t complain and talk about all your problems. 80 percent of people don’t care; the other 20 percent will think you deserve them.”

That quote may seem harsh, but I am sure you know someone, who from the moment you say hello, they go off on a rant, complaining about anything and everything.  Lets face it…complaining is fun.  It feels good to vent out all the garbage that we are going through.  I know myself, I am guilty of this more times than I would like admit.

14 - Daily Dependence - 321 PenguinsWhen my daughters were growing up they use to watch this cartoon 3-2-1 Penguins and one of my favorites episodes was “The Amazing Carnival of Complaining” which taught about the perils of complaining.

The grandmother in the story quoted from the Bible, Philippians 2:14-16,

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’  Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”

The apostle Paul challenges us with this “anti-complaining” statement because God often uses difficult situations to mold and shape our character to be more like Jesus Christ. Easier said then done right?  But don’t you want to be “blameless and pure?”

I want to challenge you that the next time you begin to grumble and complain, stop and ask yourself what may God be trying to teach me through this circumstance?

 

★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★   

Click here if you would prefer to listen to the Podcast of this blog post.

 

Does the title of today’s Thought surprise you?  One day in the office, a co-worker said to me, “I hate religion.”  He was surprised by my response when I said “so do I.”  Knowing that I am a Christian, he naturally assumed I was “Religious.”  I told him that “Religion” is just “Man’s” way of understanding or attempting to connect with God.  Unfortunately though people are hurt and oppressed by “Man-made” rules and then they blame God for what people say or do to them.  Mark Twain once said:

That is so true!  He gets blamed all the time for what people do in “His name,” but what God really desires is to have a personal relationship with us, through His Son Jesus, where we include Him in all aspects of our life.  I truly believe that you can “Hate Religion” and be a Christian too!  Or maybe a better way to describe myself would be a “Christ Follower.”  I may say that I am a Christian, but above all else, I desire to be more and more like Jesus and that only happens through me pursuing a relationship with Him and God daily.  Hence the name of this blog…“Daily Dependence.”  I read somewhere this amazing quote that expresses how I feel perfectly…

So the question I have for you is…

Do you have a “RELIGION” or do you have a “RELATIONSHIP?”  There is a huge difference!

This contrast between religion vs. relationship is critical to understand.  In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NLT) of the Bible, The Apostle Paul talks about what Jesus did to have a relationship with us, he said,

“For I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed to me.  Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.  He was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.”

God’s rescue plan for you and I was to send Jesus, His One and Son just in case we would decide to have a relationship with Him.  Imagine getting this text from God?

It would be pretty great huh?  But I would submit to you that we have that in the form of the Bible which is God’s love letter to you and I.  He desires a relationship with us not empty religious rituals or just following some “made man” rules.  When you have a relationship with someone it is out of love not coercion or obligation.  And to prove how serious God was to have that relationship with us, He sacrificed His Son as payment for our sins, who He then rose from the dead 3 days later (which is commemorated on Easter Sunday,) so that IF ANYONE believes in JESUS they will be saved from the consequences of their sins and will have eternal life in heaven, (see John 3:16).

Romans 10:9-10 (NLT) says:

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”

The relationship I have can be yours too, all you need is to pray a simple prayer and ask for forgiveness and acknowledged that you are a broken sinful person (which we all are, especially me,) and tell God that you accept Jesus as the payment for your sins; or another way of saying it, that you accept Him as your savior.  If you are ready to start a relationship with the God, our Heavenly Father and His Son, below is a prayer you can pray to start you on the journey.  The words you say really don’t matter, there is nothing special about them, but the emotion and belief in your heart does.  Make this your prayer today:

God take this broken, sinful person and change my life.  I confess I have made mistakes and acknowledge that I am in need of a Savior.  I want a relationship with you.  Please forgive me.  I believe that Jesus came to die for my sins and that He is the bridge that brings me to eternal life with you forever.  Today I accept the free gift of eternal life and know that I can never do enough good deeds to earn that salvation.  In Jesus Name I pray!  Amen!

If you earnestly prayed that prayer you are a new creation, (see 2 Corinthians 5:17!)  God will honor that prayer of surrender and will do incredible things in your life! 

Please contact me DailyDependence@gmail.com if you have any questions about your new life in Jesus Christ, I would love to discuss your decision more.  God Bless!

 

If you are interested, here is another post that further develops this Thought called: 

★ “Back to the Basics” – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian…Part 2 ★