June 9, 2016

When Religion is Not Enough

“At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.” Acts 10:1-2 (NIV2011)

By every description, Cornelius was a religious and God-fearing man. He could have been welcomed in most churches today as a leading member. The only problem was that Cornelius didn’t know Christ. He was an unsaved believer. Despite all his good works, Cornelius was missing a personal relationship with God. Acts 10 records the Divine Appointment that would change his life! Divine appointments involve three things – a willing witness, a seeking soul, and a gracious God. Cornelius was the seeking soul, and Peter was the willing witness. God graciously would cause their paths to cross so that Cornelius could experience saving grace!

God always responds to a seeking soul. Religion will never satisfy what only a personal relationship can fulfill. God is not a theology to be studied or a creed to be followed, He is a person to be loved. He seeks a personal intimate relationship with each of us by faith. Recently, we received this grace story from Mychal and Rebecca. She was religious, but he was not; yet, they both experienced Christ in a personal way that changed their lives.

“I was not raised in a religious family and had barely set foot in a church, unless there was a wedding or funeral that I wanted to attend. When I started dating my wife, I found that she was raised religious and she felt very deeply about her religion. It made her happy that I would go to church with her, so I did. Happy wife, happy life, right? The problem was that I was not interested in the services on most days. But I did find that I had a deep interest in the Bible. I wanted to learn more. Because of our busy lives and the fact that I really didn’t get this religion’s style, I did not pursue it and I stayed home from church on Sundays, more often than not.

After we moved from Denver to Spring, TX, my wife began looking for a new church. A neighbor invited us to Woodlands Church. I have to admit, I had seen Pastor Kerry on TV and, I was concerned about the whole mega-church persona. I had seen news reports of these churches not exactly being the places that they portray themselves to be. We decided to go anyway and I instantly loved the campus. I felt at home there, a sense of peace that warmed me. Previously, I only got that feeling at Coors Field (home of the Rockies) or at Mile High Stadium, both in Denver.

The service was fantastic. Pastor Kerry seemed to be speaking directly to us with his message. I am a huge music person, and when I heard Greg and Jana sing, I knew that not only was I going to get something out of the message, but I was also going to enjoy the music. That was in September of 2015 and we continued to come every Sunday and enjoy Pastor Kerry’s message. I really started to feel at home. But there was one thing missing. I needed to make the decision to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I made that decision, privately, on my own in January. I let my wife know of my decision and that is when we both decided to make Woodlands Church our church home.

At the Super Bowl Membership Class, with us all decked out in Orange Bronco’s jerseys, one of the Pastors threw us a football. It was another sign to me that Jesus Christ was putting the ball in my hands. I truly believe this. That is when we found out about the baptism ceremony that was being held on Valentines day. We signed up and the rest is history. Since being baptized, I have a sense of peace that I have not experienced before. Life is more fulfilling. I have so much to learn from the Bible, but I am still early in this journey.

Each Sunday, I look forward to hearing the message. Whether it is from Pastor Kerry, or Lee Strobel, or any of the other pastors that deliver the message, the message seems to be directed at exactly what I am going through at the time.

The word of God is something that I am now reading, albeit slowly, but I am getting through it, and then to have the church put the words into situations that I may be going through, well, that gives me peace. The Bible is the instruction manual for getting through life. Yes, I am a sinner, just like everyone else on this planet. I strive to do the best I can, and to use the bible as my instruction manual. The one book that I can turn to, in order to help with any of the life issues that I may go through.”