0 – Religion Substitute

Christianity is a “substitute” religion. It doesn’t need priests because Jesus is the high priest who walks with us all. It doesn’t need rituals since Jesus finalized the rituals himself. It doesn’t need any kind of ceremonial sacrifices since Jesus offered himself as human sacrifice—the ultimate sacrifice to end all sacrifices once and for all. It doesn’t require buildings since our bodies are God’s walking, living, breathing Temples—for those of us who acknowledge His name. It doesn’t require images since we were already created as God’s Image. It does not need any hierarchical order since the Bible is God’s direct message to all people for all times.

Christianity is not any kind of conventional religion. Those who treat it as one misunderstand it, whether from within or from the outside looking in on what they have never known. Christianity is mere truth of nature and nature’s God, who created Heaven and Earth along with all the molecules, photons, and space therein. Christianity substitutes what often occupies the space of conventional religion in people’s lives, even anti-religions such as Gnosticism, Agnosticism, and Atheism.

Because Christianity does not rely on any infrastructure, Christians can practice Christianity at any time. They can go anywhere, be anywhere, and change everything everywhere.

“Going to church” and the need for cathedrals made sense during a dark age when the world had technology neither for transportation nor communication. In those dark days, most people were illiterate and the only way to learn was to travel on foot or horseback to the one place at the one time when a teacher with knowledge would explain God and His ways. But, with widespread literacy, transportation, and global communication, that ancient system of weekly infrastructure is no longer necessary. It may be good or evil, but never necessary.

The only remaining purpose for weekly infrastructure would be for liturgy, but God’s mercies every morning are new. Jesus himself finished the need for all liturgy when he became our substitute for the sacrifices and rituals necessary to end our own self-oppression caused by our own sin. Jesus was the substitute for all because Christianity is and has always been a religion of substitution.

365 – God Saves the Best for Last

Many wicked people take shortcuts and impatient routs to amass luxurious plunder, but because they build their wealth on shaky foundations, everything collapses. They spend many years in their rich halls, but it all fails when laws of sowing and reaping swing back around to haunt them.

Somehow, it’s encoded into the heart’s understanding of satisfaction. However we go out is what matters. A long life of pain is somehow trumped if it ends in happiness, making the entire painful journey worthwhile because of the victory that the troubled path led to. A long life of luxury that ends in poverty makes the recipe for a tragic tale. Justice doesn’t always have the final say in the joy or pain of an ending.

Most signatories of America’s Declaration of Independence reached the end of their lives in sorrow and poverty. Living out a story with an unhappy ending didn’t prove that they were wrong, but that they paid a high price and are all the more heroic for taking the available step in their day to found a nation that would, a century and a half later, end the slavery that the British founded a century and a half before. Many Black slaves died still under the yoke of slavery, only having prayed for the freedom of future generations. Many peasants in Europe prayed for a literate society free of feudalism, later founded by the Pilgrims. Many Christians die in prison after giving testimony that opens up the way for the message of Jesus to spread to millions of people who are each eternally thankful.

Martyrs live lives that end in sorrow, making their lives sad, but just and fair in the eyes of Heaven. In that next life, they receive their Eternally happy ending, making their Earthly sad story worthwhile. But, not everyone needs to die a martyr. Many people see happy endings before their deaths, demonstrating justice in this lifetime. Justice works many ways.

Don’t give so much credence to temporary happiness. Pursue greater priorities. Respect the farmer who sows with empty barns. Eagerly press on toward whatever happy ending awaits you and you’ll find whatever light you need to guide your way.

358 – Why You Are Your Own Solution

Christianity does not contain a list of rules that its members hate people for breaking; Christianity clarifies good rules, forgiving whenever someone causes pain by breaking those good rules. Christianity is not an institutionalized religion with buildings of stone, steel, glass, and wood, with images and pontiffs through which Heaven dispenses its messages. The Bible is Heaven’s message, humans are the Image of their Creator God, and every human body is His Temple—God Himself will take up residence inside the “body-temple” of anyone who recognizes Jesus as God’s one and only Son.

Condemning people for breaking good rules, who thus hurt their own lives, is not Christian at all, but the teaching of demons who have found their way into every corner of society, even parts of Christian institutions. Reliance on buildings, images, and pontiffs to teach what the people supposedly can’t figure out by reading the Bible—that is not true Christianity, but a perversion of Christianity meant to exploit the people for money and power.

The anywhere-everywhere nature of Christianity empowers us for every circumstance. As a Christian—simply believing Jesus is the Son of God—no matter what you face, God is already living in your body. You already are God’s Image. When you err, God forgives you, empowering you to continue. So, you don’t need to visit a shrine to pray for help. Your body is already a prayer machine equipped with legs to go anywhere and hands to prepare a way where there is no way. Your heart can praise God and call down Heaven’s justice wherever you go.

Biblically, you already are the solution your circumstances are waiting for. Jesus saved you, thereby giving you the power to bring the rest of the solution.

Without Biblical Christianity, saying, “You are your own solution,” is no more than a feel-good lie. Being your own solution needs a basis—Jesus. Yet, many Christians, who have Jesus, don’t know how much of a help they can be to themselves because they depend too much on institutionalized systems that have nothing to do with Jesus.

Don’t think you are weaker than you are. Know the Truth and thereafter be your own help.

357 – Loving Others Means Caring for Others

Caring means sharing just as much as it means closing our mouths and silently growing as individuals from the inside out.

God puts people in our lives that require us to love other people in ways that are not so easy for us to demonstrate and express our love. Love isn’t love if it is easy. In this, everyone will always have room for improvement—even throughout all Eternity, every one of us will have an ongoing need to increase our own capacities to love.

Loving others doesn’t mean throwing enormous meals before them, even if food is your own love language. Loving others does not mean working for them or giving them money or giving frequent hugs or spending quality time with them, regardless of which of those are part of your own love language set.

It’s an old anecdote, where the man tells his wife, “I love you, I would die for you,” but she retorts, “Then take out the trash.” We all have baggage and the one thing that the people we love most need from us to know that we love them is likely the one piece of baggage that we don’t want to deal with. Loving others means confronting your own “skeletons in your closet” and “wrestling with your own demons”. If you’re not willing to deal with your own baggage then those closest to you will eventually tire and leave you, no matter how much love you feel for them.

To love others, we must take personal ownership and responsibility for where we are in life and where we will go from here. Love cannot exist without follow through and corresponding action—and it is no one’s responsibility to clean up our own lives and take necessary action but our own. Love means taking responsibility for our own faults—not making it our responsibility to repair other people’s faults nor to expect others to take responsibility to repair our faults. True love understands this.

When we love others, we can’t not take action to provide care. Everyone has basic needs—food, shelter, clothing, and, before those, other people need us to clean up our own mess on our own.

355 – This Is a Test

Everything difficult is a test of your character. Tests reveal our problems, but, more importantly, tests fix our problems. God drives us to a point of impatience in order to grow our ability to be patient. He puts us in circumstances with people where it is difficult to love in order to grow our ability to love. He does the same with forgiveness, joy, peace, charity, selflessness, friendliness, hardihood—all designed to stretch our ability to respond perfectly in every situation.

Don’t ever give up on growing your heart and rising to the challenge. If you do, your progress and growth in life will level-off. Money will start drying up or you’ll have so much money that it crushes your heart and you won’t know what to do—which is a real problem for many who live the shallow life of luxury without happiness. The heart levels off and stops growing once we stop rising to the challenge of difficult situations. Then, love grows cold and we spiral into becoming hateful, bitter people who are always angry, yet can never make the positive difference we so strongly year for.

It never gets easy. Never let your guard down. Just when we start to love in difficult situations, a challenge will come along, sneak up on us, and irritate us to no end. It’s not that we aren’t growing in our ability to love; God just keeps give us more and more difficult challenges to keep us growing.

But, never blame others for your own inability to love. Someone else’s error is a completely different matter from your own level of self-control. Check yourself: One knows that oneself has become angry without just cause when one wants to blame someone else for ones own anger.

Strong rhetoric and outbursts do not necessarily equate to genuine inner anger, but they should be optional. If you can’t say your piece gently—without being sarcastic—then you aren’t justified in saying it angrily.

God can use our unjustly angry words to teach each other. Never discount wrongful wrath as valid instruction. It’s about your own ability to respond to anything in love—not tone or manners—actual, real, love.

354 – Good People Speak Their Minds

When you have something to say, say it. Whether in times of harassment, nuisance, abuse, or someone just being more friendly than feels comfortable, if you don’t like how things are going, you need to say something about it. Addressing your concerns is on one’s responsibility but your own.

God puts concerns in our hearts so that we can deal with them. You might be wrong about your concerns, but bringing up those wrong concerns for discussion will help others to understand how they are perceived and help you to learn what things to not worry about. Then again, your concern just might be legitimate. Either way, the concern God puts in your heart is a responsibility, a stewardship, a job, a duty, an essential task that only you can perform, and if you don’t, others will suffer because of your negligence.

Don’t be rude or abusive, just speak your mind clearly enough to be heard.

Like an task, speaking one’s mind is a skill that gets better with time. If you never learned the skill, you will do it wrong the first time. It’s like learning to ride a bike. The way to learn how to speak your mind is to speak it, even if you speak it the wrong way at first. The worst way to do any necessary thing is to not do it at all.

If you don’t speak your mind when you have a mind to speak, your problems will swell and mount and it will be no one’s fault but your darned own. This is also part of God’s design in nature, that whatever problems we ignore grow and grow until they overwhelm us into doing what should have been done from the start.

If someone else happens to say what you were thinking, an applause is sufficient. But, don’t ask someone else speak your mind. And, don’t ever tell someone who doesn’t have the courage to speak up that you can speak instead. Some things are matters of “order”, such as the right to make a motion before a committee, but even a sitting committee member can invite a guest to speak or at least give an introduction.

353 – Godly Life Balance

An effective life can feel like a juggling act. On the one hand, you need a strong work ethic; on the other you need to good old fashioned R&R. R&R is central to the military philosophy of the very real need for rest. But, that idea began with the Biblical Sabbath.

There is more to the balance. It’s not a “tension” of conflicting opposites, but the kind of “balance” of an ecosystem with an equilibrium. Like an aquarium, everything must be in harmony. It’s like a musician perfecting a musical scale to play is as effortlessly as a butterfly flapping its wings. Build the skill and the muscles, then relax and let the art flow. Building up the muscles can take decades, though.

In addition to work and rest, there is also love for friends, yet patience in absence. Love your friends and family, but when God-controlled circumstances (any and all circumstances) takes you from them, leave them in God’s hands and focus where you need to. Be present with those in the room and thankful, even when your mind may want to wander elsewhere.

Be thankful—for what you want more of to have more; for what you want less of to have less; and for what you want to keep to keep a little while longer. Enjoy the journey. Even the hard roads make for the best stories told in comfortable dining rooms decades later—enjoy those hard stories while they are happening because you can never go back to them.

When your work can’t get done fast enough, don’t squander your commute fretting about the world passing you its problems and your limited tool shop; enjoy the scenery, especially if it’s windy and rainy. Life happens now, as you go along. God is not as much interested in our final product as He is interested in the journey that makes us into His final product.

If you don’t have that drive to work, then you may need to pray for some. Taking extended time to pray is another part of life’s balance. Don’t just pray for deliverance; praise God right in the midst of any circumstances. Praising God makes the best equilibrium.