We are living in a society where we are taught and indoctrinated to believe a certain way, to do a certain thing, to attend church (the building) a certain number of times a week or month, to dress a certain way, to have a certain look, to read a certain way, to pray a certain way… I’ve always found that I’ve always been a little different. This difference in me was not always easy to be. I’ve been rejected, persecuted, pushed to the side, looked over, looked under, looked around, avoided, ignored, and insulted. Apparently, I’ve unknowingly offended and intimidated people. I’ve been told I’m too strong, too this, too that, too ‘nough’…but not enough of this!??!
This difference caused me to look at things in a different light. For example, when I was young (and this is by no means anything against my parents because renewing of the mind is a life long journey), when we had to get up to go to church, there were times I didn’t want to go because I was tired. I was out all night (at church) or just up late, and I didn’t want to go. After a certain age, we weren’t allowed to go to sleep in church anymore, and I wanted to sleep! I DID NOT WANT TO GO TO CHURCH! Really, and truly, no one really told me why I HAD to go (or maybe I just don’t recall it…I could have easily dismissed the answer because I’m good at that). The most I recalled was that I was a child and I had to follow whatever rules adults decided to impose (yes, impose) on me.
When I went away to college, I stopped going for a while. By that time, I believed I’d gone to church enough times to last two lifetimes and I’d had enough. From time to time I attended here and there out of guilt (I ‘knew’ better). I had a responsibility to be in church. But let’s move past this.
Here in this territory, I found I’ve spent several years desperately trying to find a church not realizing that I was really looking for a deeper relationship with God. I searched, I sought, I went here, I went there, I was willing to try this, I thought about trying that, I was over there for a period of time, this denomination, that denomination, just searching, searching, searching! I was just NOT being fed. So I left it alone. I told God it was on Him to find me somewhere.
One day, I walked into Transformation Church International (TCI – above RiteWay in East End), and it literally changed my life in one service. I dare say it SAVED my life. Maybe one day I will expound on what was said and what happened that changed my life, but for now, I’ll leave it alone.
It was during several more visits at TCI that I began to realize that the Apostle taught on lessons that I’d never heard of. This is very rare because I grew up in a very spiritual, Christian home. I was truly unteachable…you open your mouth, said something familiar, and I closed my ears. Between church, life, and my mom, I knew A LOT!!!!
Three or four months after my first visit, this man began talking about something I’d never heard. So me being me, I went back to my ‘main’ source and I called my mother to question her down. How could this man be speaking about something I’d never heard of?? It was right there in the Bible. Why didn’t she teach me this? (I laugh now as I began to realize how much I depended on my mother for training…similar to how some religious people depend on some person in church for theirs…hmmmm? In her most loving way, my mother lets me know that she tried to teach us the best she could about as much as possible, but she couldn’t teach us everything. We needed to seek things for ourselves, and apparently, I had not.
I began to study this topic. I ordered the audio from the church’s media ministry. It was a series on leviathan. You see this name in the Bible a couple of times, but like me, you probably read it and kept right on moving.
As I continued my studies with TCI, I learned more and more, and familiar scriptures revealed more to me because I not only read the one, little-memorized verse, but the chapter(s) around it to understand the context of it. I studied the period and geographical area it referred to, which revealed more about it. My eyes were opened more and more. I began to see more, understand more.
But, all in all, this year I decided to do a significant amount of studying on my own. It’s only so much you can get in a service. You got to study these things on your own. Furthermore, in my adulthood, I’ve never been the type to just take what someone tells me and believe it as so.
For instance, during the leviathan series, I looked this thing up. I studied. I researched. I read more on it. I wanted to know what the heck he was talking about, and, more so, how the heck I didn’t know about it (am I a know it all..??)! How was it missed? What is it? Is he telling the truth?? What does the Bible really say?
I studied and studied and began to study more things as they were introduced. Things I either never paid attention to or never heard of. (Yes, I confess, I failed myself for so long.)
In this wonderful year of 2016, one of the things I realized is THERE IS A LOT IN THE BIBLE I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT! There is plenty there that leaders in the house of God just skim over. I began to have thoughts like, ‘I’ve been in church almost my entire life,…at least enough for two lifespans of a typical person. WHAT THE HECK HAVE THESE PEOPLE BEEN TEACHING ME ALL THESE YEARS!!!!’ I began replaying sermons from this congregation at this age and that congregation in that location, and it hit me: either I really was not paying attention or these people have been teaching me nothing more than Sunday school lessons. The same thing I learned in Sunday school is what I was hearing from pulpits being repeated over and over and over.
Yes, I said it. Too many church leaders have not gone beyond teaching Sunday school lessons. Why? RELIGION won’t let them.
Now, don’t hear from this that I am condemning our church leaders as they can only teach what the people can ‘eat’ and there is plenty to be received from a Sunday school lesson , but there is more to it. I was still being ‘breastfed’ all those years. That’s why I was searching for so long – I WAS TIRED OF MILK and didn’t know where to find the MEAT. And here I am now, not only eating ‘meat’ but ‘cooking my own meals’. Renewing my mind!
Even the meaning to ‘renew your mind’ was revealed to me this year. All this time, it was just a catch phrase that I’d heard religious people toss around. What I began to understand is ‘renewing your mind’ is removing the religious aspect of your relation with God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and this THING that people have decided is what Christianity is.
It’s so crazy because, at one point, I walked away from Christianity because I’d decided I didn’t know who came up with this word (I still have to study its true origins), but I did not want to be called that. When you look at some ‘christians’ (lower case ‘c’) today, they are full of crap! Not all of them, of course. Some have gone beyond their brainwashing or was never brainwashed (hallelujah for opened eyes). But some of them are just so judgmental. They don’t know how to see you from God’s eyes. Love you with His heart; hear you with the ears of God. They fail to treat you as Christ would have. Instead, they look at you and see what you have on and that’s all they do: see what you have on. They don’t look at the cry from your heart as you ache for something MORE, because you know there is something else out there. God has called you. God has pulled you. God has said come higher.
And yet, no one has poured into you the training, the education, the undoing of YEARS of BRAINWASHING that some religious fanatic has decided was God. These religious people never took the time to understand that the Bible was never written to give us religion. The Bible was written to provide guidance. It was created to be a law, a constitution, a guide, a manual, a way…THE WAY. There are basic principles in this book that religious people simply skim over as if it was a Sunday school lesson. Avoiding the real purpose for the Word, wondering why their life is so full of lack.
All our lives we are taught to love one another as you love yourself, but how many teach that when Jesus died, he covered us in Grace. Through the fulfillment of the prophecy, the law (Old Testament) was fulfilled. That through His Grace, and His Grace alone, we are made righteous, justified, given mercy. Again, ‘love one another as you love yourself ‘ was just another catch phrase: a golden rule.
Prior to His death, he gave a new law: …That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another (John 13:34). This one commandment would keep us because if we love as He loves, we won’t break any other commandments. If we love as Christ loves, we won’t covet or murder, we will be eager to rest and keep the Sabbath, we’d be obedient children. Our eyes will be for our spouse and not your spouse. We will remain holy as He is Holy, having on one True God, not other idols (Facebook, online news, basketball, bars, boats, etc.).
We have been brainwashed in the house to speak, pastor, worship, and pray a certain way. We say the house of worship should be run like a corporation with Boards of Directors who vote on everything. But when God says to move the service from 10am to 7am, you move the service! You don’t vote on that. Religion.
People who see me walk in, a visitor for the first time, and my skirt is too short, my shirt is too low, and my hair is whatever color I want it to be. Rather than seeing and embracing me as I am, I am first told to change my clothes. Yet, no one offered to buy me any clothes. No one offered to give me money for a wardrobe that is worthy of the service I am attending. No one asked me what my situation was. They just see that I don’t look like I should be here. Religion.
That person who sees me come in fidgeting due to a drug habit, smelling of recent drug usage, clothes out of place, pants down to my ankles, hair untidy. No one walks up to me to say ‘Hey, brother! I see greatness in you.’ No one says ‘Do you have a problem with drug additions. Let me help you.’ Instead, I’m told, ‘You have a problem with drugs. What’s your problem!!!’ Well, HELLO!!! Didn’t you just say I had a problem with drug addiction!!! Religion.
You go to work reading your Bibles and praying every day so you will grow, grow, grow, but as soon as you see someone who is from somewhere different, you immediately look down on them. You fight one another, speak ill of another, gossip with and about one another. By the way, let’s have Bible study before we start our day on someone’s time and get paid for it. Religion.
You haven’t seen me all month, but next month, when I come to service, all I will hear is whispering because you think I’m supposed to be in service every time the door opens. No one has asked me if I was ok. No one called to hear how things were. No one learned that I lost my job and had to take two to make up for the one I lost or my family couldn’t eat. Religion.
And you can’t take a real and true correction because you’ve been in the house of the Lord for ten years but yet you are just as weak and feeble minded as you were the day you walked through the doors. You are still just as negative as you were ten years ago. God said to come up higher, but you are still picking with the chickens. As soon as you are corrected, you become offended. And you say you are Christ-like. Religion.
Christ was never offended. Christ could take a beating, with His skin ripping, while He was half naked. With thorns pressed into His head. Carrying a heavy load. And yet, I can’t say it’s time for you to mature. It’s time for you to cover your family yourself. It’s time for you to pray a little more. It’s time for you to walk in your gifts. (Not talents. Gifts!) That it’s time for you to come up higher without it offending you. Religion.
I can’t actually say the day I walked away from religion. I can say this: I am not religious. This spirit is breaking off of me!!!!! I declare and decree it. My mind is being renewed daily. I am walking away more and more each day. Shedding the indoctrination. Removing religion. Aiming to be who He says I am. I may stumble, but I’ll get back up. I hope you don’t kick me while I’m down (religion) but instead remember the new commandment to love me as Christ loves me.
Let this day (yesterday, today, tomorrow) be declared as the day I walked away from religion.