How to Overcome the Tyranny of Religion

I see a disturbing trend in churches. One I’ve gotten caught up in at times also.

In an effort to make Christianity relevant pastors often take the Bible and turned it into kind of recipe book for successful living.


Photo Credit: Mike_tn

Photo Credit: Mike_tn


Nine steps to a better marriage. Five steps to further your career. Twelve steps to overcome any problem.

Yet, let’s think about this. On a given Sunday around the world there has to be say a million more steps given. Wow, I didn’t even get the six from last Sunday going yet.

I watched it reach its logical conclusion in a conference that was popular in the 1970’s. At huge arenas all over the country during a long weekend people meticulously plowed through a huge red binder. It was filled with formulas, all indexed, to successfully navigate any challenge and receive God’s blessing in the midst.


The only problem was it left me and a whole lot of others not feeling encouraged but in despair.


We now we had the secret recipe book but how could I possibly remember let alone follow all of these steps every moment of every day?  And the underlying threat was to the degree you fall short God won’t bless your life as fully.

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How to Discover a Real Relationship with the Real God

I think a lot of organized religion is really a mess. Now in case you’re wanting to shoot think about it.

Surveys show most people in the U.S. believe in God and a majority attend services at least occasionally.

Yet, our society is pretty screwy.


Photo Credit: Neil Moralle

Photo Credit: Neil Moralle


Facebook, I’ve heard, now has over 50 gender selections to choose from for your profile. Yikes, and I always thought there were only two. Talk about being behind the times.

Then look at the divorce rate, crime rate, number of children raised by single parents and it’s not a stretch to say something’s seriously whacked out.


Yet, I look at so much organized religion and in my most theological words say, “What are they thinking?”


I mean we have what we could label “Mr. Potato Head” theology.

Do you remember the children’s game?  The one you play with a raw potato.  Yes, I know I am seriously dating myself here.  Anyway, as you play the game you pick out the parts you want your potato head to look like.  A nose here, ears there, eyes over here.  You create him into your masterpiece.

Well too many people apply that same process to their view of God.  Add on the parts you like.  Forget the parts you don’t.  Only problem is it doesn’t do much for your confidence when you need it most because you created God to look like you want not like he truly is.

Or we have “Super-Size Me” theology.

Americans love super-size anything.  Triple burgers, jumbo fries, 64 oz. Mega Gulp soft drinks, mammoth SUV’s.  You know the bigger the better.

So we drag that over into church.  Concert perfect productions. Jumbo screens. Slick videos. Model pastor couple. Short entertaining messages.  Move the crowd in.  Move the crowd out.

Yet when we leave often we feel somehow empty don’t we?

Now I’m not saying you can’t find a relationship with God or some elements of truth through those churches. Frankly though, I’m surprised often by the places God pops up.


But I also see way too often people enter into that relationship with God but grow stale quickly.


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Come to the Party!

Number 35 in the series “God Rocks: 101 Amazing Everyday Gifts!” Stories and promises of Jesus that show us the awesome blessings we can experience each day. I hope it encourages you!


I’m giving up okra for Lent.  I’m all in.

Of course I don’t like okra anyway. That’s why I’m giving it up for Lent. And after Lent also.


Photo Credit: Antonio Delgado

Photo Credit: Antonio Delgado


Frankly, I don’t get the whole Lent thing. I mean does God really care that I like chocolate? Really? So the vitality of my relationship with him is dependent on giving up say chocolate for a few weeks?

See, I think we all have enough real issues. I find the world downright scary, frustrating and depressing all on its own at times. I don’t feel a need to add a layer of irritation to it.

Yet, isn’t that what we do often with religion? We make up rules to impress God that don’t impress him and only make us miserable.

And the folks outside of the church? They look on and think, “Yeah, no thanks.”


And the saddest part? That wasn’t what Jesus showed us.


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Discovering God Apart from Religion

Number 34 in the series “God Rocks: 101 Amazing Everyday Gifts!” Stories and promises of Jesus that show us the awesome blessings we can experience each day. I hope it encourages you!


I talk often with people turned off by religion. They view it as trying to following a bunch of oppressive rules to impress a God they’re not sure exists. So they really have little interest in it.

Frankly though I see an opposite and more insidious perspective. Religious people who attend services regularly and follow the rules “at least better than most others.” They’d never admit it but they really don’t see a need for God’s grace.


Photo Credit: Mani Babbar

Photo Credit: Mani Babbar


Yet, both miss the relationship with God. No, I’m not making judgment calls about who’s saved and who isn’t. I’m just saying they miss out on the intimate relationship they could have with God and the soul peace that comes out of it.


And frankly, I don’t speak from a distance. I’ve lived both extremes and experienced the emptiness they bring.


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Freed from Religion to Really Live

Number 31 in the series “God Rocks: 101 Amazing Everyday Gifts!” Stories and promises of the awesome blessings God gives us each day. I hope it encourages you today!


I enjoyed the church I grew up in as a kid. I hung out with my buddies, talked with cute girls in our youth group. I mean what’s not to like?

When I was really young I didn’t have to go to worship services which I thought was pretty cool.

But then as I grew older I had to attend the services. Singing hymns I didn’t understand. Not a catchy tune in the bunch. Rituals that seemed mysterious. And sermons delivered with fervor yet somehow detached from my life.


Photo Credit: Eric Magnuson

Photo Credit: Eric Magnuson


So after high school I left. I set out to find my life apart from religion and I did.


Yet, eventually it became a bit messy.


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Quote: On Religion by Don Miller

“I confess I might be a cynic, but I’m convinced there aren’t any religious formulas that work.”

Your thoughts?

Do you have a favorite quote?