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Summary: Reveals how you can know what religion God approves of.

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“Religion the Right Way”

May 31, 2009

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

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.”

James 1:22-27

Did you hear about the pastor walking across the bridge one day? He said,

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. I immediately ran over and said "Stop! Don’t do it!"

"Why shouldn’t I?" he said.

I said, "Well, there’s so much to live for!"

"Like what?"

"Well ... are you religious or atheist?"

"Religious."

"Me too! Are you Christian or Jewish?"

"Christian."

"Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?"

"Protestant."

"Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"

"Baptist."

"Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"

"Baptist Church of God."

"Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"

"Reformed Baptist Church of God."

"Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?"

"Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!"

To which I said, "Die, heretic scum!" and pushed him off.

We have pretty strong feeling for our churches and denominations and religions don’t we? This week while driving around Redding I followed a car with Arabic writing on the back. I could help wonder if the words spelled out “Allah” or if the people were Muslim – and if so, what were they doing in my country! In Mount Shasta we have just about every religion there is. It’s not uncommon to see a Monk in flowing robes and shaved head walking down the street or a ‘New Ager’ all decked out in purple or white. Christians from all the churches in our community are going to be gathering in less than a month away for, what we call, “Day in the Son”. All the churches gather together in the city park for one big day of food, fellowship and fun. Free hot dogs and hamburgers and sodas will be given away FREE! We will have face painting and games and wonderful music from Christian bands in the area. It is just a wonderful time of Christian fellowship. It starts off with a combined community worship service. This year I have been asked to preach the morning message. That’s quite a honor – and I am happy to do it. But it will be different preaching to the Baptists and Evangelical Free, Assembly of God – and all the rest. We are all so different. Is there anything we can agree on? Take a look at what religion is defined as:

re⋅li⋅gion

–noun

1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.

4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.

5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.

6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.

I remember the definition of religion in theology class as simply being the relationship between a person and God. That’s pretty simple – and yet people have such strong opinions as to what is ‘the’ real religion. I could tell them – if they asked. It’s Nazarene. God clearly lead me to this denomination – so it MUST be the right one! And for me – it is. But you can call yourself a Baptist or Catholic or charismatic or Nazarene – and still miss it, or make it. It depends on you relationship with God.

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