If we can encourage others, we should encourage them.
~Romans 12:8

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Don't let Relationship deteriorate into Religion

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
John 4:23-24 NIV

Inspired by Daniel [Daniel 6:10], some years ago I adopted the practice of setting alarms and regularly giving thanks throughout the day. It's a great way to disrupt the negative, and get one's mind focused back on what is good, lovely, and worthy of praise.

This practice evolved into me texting loved ones at critical times, usually their birthday (September 30th = 9:30). I do this to let them know that I'm thinking of them, praying for them, and/or sending them blessings. Sometimes all I send is an emoticon such as praying hands or a smiley face. That's enough to say "I'm thinking of you".

I had a loved one that initially responded with sarcasm, taunts, and even blasphemy - as blessings seemed to bring out his anger at God. But I kept sending those texts everyday at his birth time, and eventually his responses were nicer, pleasant even. Behold miracle of miracles he even started texting me at my birth time! Now he's as faithful as I am, texting me everyday at my time.

Now you might suspect my message is about wearing people down with love — but it's not. I did rejoice as it seemed I'd won this person over, but somehow the texts became legalistic. The birth time texts were meant to be an additional blessing, not to replace regular communication. Now when I text this person he won't respond until my birth time. I've talked to him about it, but he continues to do this. Once I even said "No one has heard from you, are you OK?", but he didn't respond until hours later at my birth time. What?!

As I was thinking about how dysfunctional that was, the Holy Spirit put on my heart that people do something similar in their relationship with God. Initially they may go to church, or pray in the mornings, etc. out of their love and need for God. Over time it becomes a habit or religious activity. Some people wait until Sunday mornings at church to talk to God. It's good to reserve special times to devote to God, but it's not good to limit our relationship with God to those times.

I have a friend that always says "Pray for me" whenever I'm going to church. Um, with all due respect I can pray for you anytime and anywhere. God's availability and presence are not limited to Sunday mornings in the church building.

Please don't think I'm looking down on others for being religious. I find I have to work hard to avoid this myself. When I first started giving thanks I stopped and gave it my full attention and best effort. Now I've had to change the reminder times and alert sounds just to keep things from become rote and stale. God's Beloved let us pray that our relationship with God won't be reduced to scheduled times and places; nor repetitive words and memorized prayers that lack sincerity. Set aside time for God, but don't set God aside until certain times.

Heavenly Father
You are everywhere, all the time. Forgive me for trying to limit You to certain times and places. You said You would never leave me nor forsake me, so help me remember You are always available to me.

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