“We are being tormented by evil spirits,” the Bagobo tribal people said, “Can you pray and get rid of them?” “Yes, of course, by the power and authority of Jesus Christ that has been given to us, we can tell them to go,” we explained.
This was our second visit to the Bagobo tribe and we felt honored they trusted us to help them. More than that, they trust the God of the universe who lives in us to help them. We began a prayer walk outside the school building through the homes and a shelter. In each room we prayed against the spirit of death that had been attacking their unborn babies and the tormenting spirits that kept the people from sleeping at night.
I am getting older, but I’m way too young to be having a forgetful moment like this one. I was sitting at a stop sign trying to remember where I was located? What’s my name? Where am I going? Which way was I suppose to turn?
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Our lives get overwhelmed, stressed, busy, and in a moment we zone out.
I had only driven this route a hand full of times and was confident as I traveled back into the city that I could remember the directions without the help of my GPS. Not recognizing anything around me, I asked Siri to give me directions back to the office. Sure enough, 20 minutes later, after enjoying the new sites I didn’t recall from my drive in, I realized I took the wrong turn, but still ended up at the right location.
This is not too dissimilar to my life. I’ve decided to follow the way I think I should go, only to end up taking the long route to the same destination God had planned for me. If only I had consulted with Him before leaving instead of trying to find my own way, it may not have taken me as long to get there. He certainly knows the way better than Siri.
As a child, I was taught that when I give my heart to Jesus, He will come and live inside of me. First of all, that’s kinda weird. I don’t want someone living inside me. My mom said that my brother was living inside of her, so does that mean Jesus is going to be a baby inside me? Does that also mean He will come out in 9 months? Wait….that’s what happened to Mary in the story they tell me at Christmas time.
To clarify, He is not going to live in my belly. He’s going to live in my heart. I was also taught that in order for Him to stay in my heart, there was a list of rules I had to follow. If you chose not to follow the rules, then “you were not a Christian anymore.”
I couldn’t go to the movies,
I couldn’t drink wine (Jesus turned water into wine, why can’t I drink it?),
I could only listen to Christian music,
I had to be at church every time the doors were open, which meant I had to go to church even when I was sick and vacations with my family were out of the question,
I had to read three chapters of the Bible every day,
I had to pray every day for one hour,
I had to go to the altar every church service to ask for forgiveness for my sins,
I could only wear certain types of clothes,
Every person I met, I had to tell them about Jesus,
and the list goes on and on.
I’m sure you could add several more rules yourself.
If I didn’t follow every rule, all the time, then I couldn’t be a Christian or go to heaven. I think we can agree that reading your bible, attending church, and other actions listed above are all good things to do. However, it was the unrealistic expectations of how these actions were lived out that made them rules to follow, instead of opportunities to live out a life of worship.
All these rules had me so bound up that after 20 years (I can’t believe I lasted that long), I was ready to walk away from God not towards Him. I was told that if I stopped attending church, I would be walking away from God and I didn’t want to do that. I had seen so many people walk away for the same reason. Just like those people, I love God and wanted to know Him more, but didn’t want to live under the constant pressure and unrealistic expectations anymore.
Then one day, God showed me the difference between religion and relationship.