Don’t Call Me Religious

Whatever you do,

don’t call me religious

 

And you might be confused

because I go to church regularly

and I talk about God

and I read my Bible

 

but please

don’t call me religious

 

Because I’m not

 

I am a Follower of Jesus,

the One who said,

 

“I am the WAY

the Truth

and the LIFE…”

 

not ONE of the ways

ONE of the truths

 

He is my LIFE

 

And all the religions of the world

are full of people

 

working their way to God

or to something other than God

 

While I place all my faith

with evidence

on my God who came down for me

 

Religion is ritual

and repetition

and redundant

 

My relationship

with the Lord of the Universe

is new

freeing

and vibrant

 

Religion constantly has its focus on

“What can God do for me?”

 

Relationship with God has its focus on

God

 

Please,

whatever you do,

don’t call me religious

 

for my Jesus

who took on human flesh and humanity

 

reserved His harshest words

for religious people

 

They might have looked pious on the outside

but they were not God-alive on the inside

 

they were dead inside

 

We need Jesus to cleanse us from our sin…

 

Uh oh, I said it,

SIN

 

Who wants to hear that word??

 

But we all know we struggle with it!

Sin, like cancer, eats away at us

 

And God had a plan all along

to save us from the bondage of it

 

He would step into our world

and make the payment for OUR sin

 

by sacrificing His perfect self,

unconditionally loving us

all

along

the

way

 

But He didn’t skimp on words

while He was here

 

and He wanted everyone to know

 

that the Son of God does not stutter

when He says,

 

“NO ONE comes to the Father

except through Me.”

 

No one

 

Not a single

religious

person

 

who is trusting in themselves being religious

to get themselves to God

 

For there is no good deed that wins God’s favor

 

No amount of charity work

or chants

or  going to church

or bowing 10 times…

 

It has always been about God,

not what He can do for me

 

This is not about self-centered religion

but a God-centered life

 

committed to His glory

 

What a free

and abundant

and wonderful way

to live

 

Thank you, Jesus,

for setting me free of

RELIGION

 

~  Susie Stewart

 

Pass this on to everyone you know.  The message is for the whole world.  

 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

~  John 14:6 (NIV)

 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

– Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

 

You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.

– Matthew 23:27 (MSG)

 

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

– Romans 10:9 (NIV)

 

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He himself is fair and just, and He makes sinners right in His sight when they believe in Jesus.

– Romans 3:22-26 (NLT)

 

Photo by Andy Stewart

For Sure

In uncertain times

I am grateful to You, my Abba,

for making my footsteps sure

 

You have planted me

in the sure earth

of Your inheritance for me

 

You have established

Your good plans

for my good

 

You have lead me,

never forsaking Your promises,

and I have followed

 

The surety of You

is all I need

in the uncertain

 

For I am Yours

and You are God

for sure

 

– Susie Stewart

 

You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of Your inheritance— the place, Lord, you made for Your dwelling, the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established.

– Exodus 15:17 (NIV)

 

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.

– Psalm 37:23,24 (NLT)

 

I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

– Psalm 16:8 (NLT)

 

The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake
is confirmed by my sleeping heart.
Day and night I’ll stick with God;
I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go.

I’m happy from the inside out,
and from the outside in, I’m firmly formed.
You canceled my ticket to hell—
that’s not my destination!

– Psalm 16:7-10 (MSG)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

 

Large Burden, Small Child

Why are we…

 

….scratch that

 

Why am I

so slow to cast my cares

on You, Lord?

 

Why do I take time

to mull them over and over

in my mind?

 

As if I’m a small child

trying to shoulder a large load

hiking next to my strong Dad

 

When He is clearly saying to me,

“Give it to me, Child.  I will carry it.”

 

But No!  I’ve got this!

 

I really need to think about this

a lot

and I need to go over scenario 1

scenario 2

3, 4, 5 and 6….

 

And I struggle

and I  stumble

and I think I know best

 

when wise Father

is right there

 

and I imagine a loving

head shake from Him

with a questioning “Why?”

 

And it is then that I remember

 

Limitless Divine strength

and that this burden is not mine

to carry

 

And I cast it off

as the distressing hardship that it is

 

My Abba leans down

and I lay the burden on Him

 

and how small that burden now seems

on strong shoulders

 

Such a small thing

 

“Why take so long?”

I ask myself

 

And I see something else ahead on the trail

that looks like it needs to be picked up

 

I look at my Father

and wise eyes speak volumes

 

I decide not to pick it up

 

at all

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.

– Psalm 55:22 (NIV)

 

Since God cares for you, let Him carry all your burdens and worries.

– 1 Peter 5:7 (VOICE)

 

For I hold you by your right hand— I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, “Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.”

– Isaiah 41:13 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Fear

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom.
Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.
– Proverbs 9:10 (NLT)

 

A life of worship

is a life of fear

 

And it sounds strange

to say so

 

For fear

brings thoughts of scary

and terror

and angst

 

But Abba calls us to fear Him

with awe

and reverence

and joy

 

He calls us to see Him

in everything

 

He tells us not to fear people

or circumstances

or spiritual darkness

 

But to stand bold

in His Spirit

 

and this leaves us

with only the fear of HIM

 

But it couldn’t be further from the word we know

 

For this fear

dances in His presence

 

And brims over with joy

 

And seeks Him passionately

 

This fear is amazed at

and respecting

all-knowing

all-seeing

all-important

God

 

It is the beauty

of Father and child

 

It is

Fear

and fear not

 

– Susie Stewart

 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

– 1 John 4:18 (NIV)

 

Fearing God has been a term I’ve wrestled with and longed to better understand. I know it means to have a deep level of reverence for God. But I love what a friend of mine who studies language root words to better understand biblical terms recently shared with me. After much study, she now defines a person who fears God as ‘one who sees the hand of God in everything.’ There are several Hebrew words for the word ‘fear’, but let’s look at two of these closely. One is ‘pachad’, which means terror. That’s not the one used in this passage about the fear of the Lord. The word used is ‘yirah’, which means being in awe of God. That deep sense of reverence where we truly desire to look for the hand of God in everything.
– Lysa Terkeurst

 

Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere Him.

– Psalm 33:8 (NIV)

 

Let all people stand in awe of the Eternal; let every man, woman, and child live in wonder of Him.

– Psalm 33:8 (VOICE)

 

The Fear-of-God is a spring of living water so you won’t go off drinking from poisoned well.

– Proverbs 14:27 (MSG)

 

 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

– 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

 

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

– Joshua 1:9 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

 

Adopted

It would be enough if God just cleansed your name, but He does more.  He give you His name.  It would be enough if God just set you free, but He does more.  He takes you home…

Adoptive parents understand this more than anyone.  I certainly don’t mean to offend ny biological parents – I’m one myself.  We biological parents know well the earnest longing to have a child.  But in many cases our cribs were filled easily.  We decided to have a child and a child came.  In fact, sometimes the child came with no decision.  I’ve heard of unplanned pregnancies, but I’ve never heard of an unplanned adoption.

That’s why adoptive parents understand God’s passion to adopt us.  They know what it means to feel an empty space inside.  They know what it means to hunt, to set out on a mission, and take responsibility for a child with a spotted past and a dubious future.  If anybody understands God’s ardor for His children, it’s someone who has rescued an orphan from despair, for that is what God has done for us.

God has adopted you.  God sought you, found you, signed the papers and took you home.

– Max Lucado

 

Long ago, before God made the world, God chose us to be His very own, through what Christ would do for us;  He decided then to make us holy in His eyes, without a single fault we who stand before Him covered in His love.  His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us.  And He did this because He wanted to.

– Ephesians 1:3-5 (TLB)

 

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out “Abba!  Father!”  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

– Romans 8:15-16 (NASB)

 

But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

– Galatians 4:4-5 (NASB)

 

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Photos by Susie Stewart & Andy Stewart