Stand Firm And Be Free

obrichardson@gmail.com
May 27, 2016

 

Paul states in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Do you want to be free?  Are you willing to pay the price to be free?  The path to freedom isn’t free, as a matter of fact, it’s very costly.  There’s a risk.  It takes courage and a determined mind. We all want to be free, to experience life, to be ourselves, to explore, and to be all that we can possibly be, but many fail in this pursuit.  Why?  It’s because we’re so concerned about what other people think and say that we fall short in being who God made us to be.  We only experience freedom when we can truly say that we are being our authentic self.

For many years, I too, bought into the lie of spiritual conformity.  I was a pastor for 16 years in a conservative, evangelical church.  My church members and the denomination, with which I was affiliated with, had this image of how a preacher should look and act.

A suit on Sunday (which I didn’t mind, but when I didn’t wear one I got the looks)

Alway optimistic (as if preachers are immune to pain and problems)

No drinking (at least not in public)

No cussing (it was permissible for church members, elders and deacons, but not the preacher.  This was taboo.)

Don’t teach anything that violates the core teachings of that fellowship.

Etc.

While in ministry, I experienced God’s presence in some powerful ways.  I’ve lead many souls to Christ, prayed for sinners, seen miracles, and have been spiritually encouraged and empowered by my christian brothers and sisters, but I’ve also been miserable.

Unfortunately, I got sucked into the pattern and paranoia of church orthodoxy.  Once I started to ask questions and actually study for myself, I started seeing the bondage that I was in.  I know this sound bizarre coming from a minster, but it’s true.  Many pastors are so busy with ministerial duties that they don’t study to learn, but to build sermons.  There’s a huge difference and those of you who are in ministry know what I’m talking about.

Do you want freedom?  Are you willing to ask questions?

Questioning the status quo is disruptive to the edifice of pattern theology, but is redemptive to the one in bondage to it.   Mark Twain said, “It’s not what a man doesn’t know that’s the problem.  It’s what he thinks he knows that is in fact not true.”  There’s a lot of self appointed scholars in the church, whose scholarship isn’t predicated upon academic or independent study, but on tradition.

For me, freedom came with a huge penalty or perhaps a prize.  I could no longer toe the line of established orthodoxy.  The chains of bondage were coming off.  My legalism and desire to be right were no longer important to me.  Rather than debate and convince you, I was interested in inviting you to the table to talk, to learn and to love you and your path to God.  My questions led me to other questions which led to me other questions and so the story goes.

My quest for freedom came with a cost.  Most churches (my fellowship), don’t have anything to do with me anymore.  The scouting report is out.  Be careful.  Be cautious.  I don’t get invited to speak any more, the phone calls have stopped and my brothers and sisters in christ who once celebrated my anointing, have fled.

But, I’m not alone.  Just as Paul states in Galatians 5, you have to stand firm.  I stand because I know deep down in my heart that there is more to God.  My heart is open and my mind is eager.  God has allowed me to meet certain people who understand and acknowledge the impulse in my heart.  They not only understand where I’m coming from, but affirm me and encourage me to go deeper in my voyage to understand God.

What’s the prize?

I discovered that I’m not alone!

Stand Firm and BE FREE!!

-obr

Adam and Eve

obrichardson@gmail.com
May 18, 2016

 

The Christian story begins with Adam and Eve.  The very first book in the bible, the book of Genesis, introduces us to them.  Adam and Eve were placed in the garden of Eden by God to live.  Satan arrives on the     scene ( i guess through some miraculous act of God) and tempts Adam and Eve.  They sin and thus we are infused with their sin.  Even though we didn’t actively participate in disobedience, we are affected.

We weren’t there, but we are guilty.

We didn’t eat, but we are guilty.

Okay, I know this really doesn’t make much sense, but this is what is typically taught in most churches.

Let’s go a little deeper.  In I Corinthians the apostle Paul is recorded saying, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

After a little research I made an interesting discovery.  The word “made” in the Greek is zoopoieo and it literally means to revitalize or to make alive again.  So, the first Adam brought death or separation from God, but in Christ we are revitalized.  Now, here’s the larger question.  Since we didn’t actively engage in the first act, do we need to actively participate in the second in order to receive forgiveness of sins?

Is salvation something you do?  Is it based upon your beliefs?  If so, which ones?  Do you have to believe the right teaching in order to be saved?  Or is salvation in and through God?  In the book of Jonah, the prophet says that  “salvation is from God.”

Is the euangellion (good news) good because you believed or did right?  Or because God revitalized you, empowering you to be all that you can be?

Something to think about.  Let me know what you think.

-obr

Life…the paradox

obrichardson@gmail.com
April 28, 2016

Life

The paradox

Yes or No

Stay or Go

Why must it be so difficult

Life

I know there’s a plan

A purpose

But where am I to go

Life

Don’t try to understand it

Don’t debate it

Life is meant to be lived not understood

Life is free

Embrace each moment

Love recklessly

Smile often

And be all that you can be.

-obr

A Treasure Worth Finding

obrichardson@gmail.com
April 25, 2016

Beauty, who defines it?

Society

Friends

Parents

The Church

Stop looking for approval and start being yourself.

Your style

Your walk

Your talk

Your way.

It’s all about you!

Why don’t you be you?  If you aren’t going to be you, who will be?

Living to please others only births more trauma and drama in your life.

The pain

The pressure

And the problems of living up to another’s standard just aren’t worth it.

Why don’t you be you?

You are beautiful beyond description

A treasure worth finding

You are beautiful because you are you!!

-obr

Are You Too Busy

obrichardson@gmail.com
April 24, 2016

Look!

The sun is shining

The grass is growing

Don’t you see it?

You are alive!

Listen!

The birds are singing

Your heart is beating

Can’t you hear it?

You are alive!

Too busy to see and to hear

Stop!!

We have eyes, but we don’t see.  We have ears, but we don’t hear

Stop, Look and Listen!

Every day the Divine tries to get your attention.

Are you too busy?

-obr

Human Sexuality

obrichardson@gmail.com
April 23, 2016

Human sexuality isn’t a choice

You awakened to it

It chooses you

Don’t judge

Human sexuality is about love

Giving

Receiving

And being with the one you love

Don’t judge

Human sexuality is about happiness

Smiling

Laughing

And being with the one you love

Don’t judge

Life is too short to be unhappy

Life is too short to worry about what others think

Being happy is when you are with the one you love.

-obr

 

Late night musing about the bible

obrichardson@gmail.com
April 21, 2016

The bible is an inspiring book.

A book of stories.

Stories about men and women who who were changed by the life and teachings of Jesus.

Jesus was a man who showed us what God’s love looked like.

The bible is an inspiring book.

Read it as a book.

It’s purpose wasn’t perfection, but experience.

Love, not hatred

Joy and happiness and beauty

Peace and Comfort

AND LIFE!

Their stories become our stories and our stories mirror theirs.

The bible is an inspiring book about the struggle for meaning.

For purpose

For Hope

For understanding

For Life

AND FOR LOVE

The bible is an inspiring book and Jesus is our example on what is means to be fully human.

-obr

 

Harlem Globetrotters

obrichardson@gmail.com
April 3, 2016

Living without Fear

obrichardson@gmail.com
April 1, 2016

Carrots and Eggs and Coffee Beans

obrichardson@gmail.com
March 31, 2016