Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pastor's Perspective - Connecting with God? NO SWEAT!

So you want to connect with God? No sweat!

I was saddened to hear about the needless deaths of three people involved in a sweat lodge ceremony in Arizona earlier this month. The three victims were among sixty others attending a five-day retreat held by new age millionaire guru James Arthur Ray. Each person paid the $9,000 registration fee, subjecting themselves fully to a variety of life-expanding and spiritually stimulating experiences hosted by Ray and his staff. During one of these experiences, the sweat lodge, people vomited, passed out, became critically ill and even died. This tragedy is currently under investigation. Apparently, the sweat lodge ceremony was the culminating event after days of physically and mentally strenuous exercises, which involved fasting and one game in which Ray himself played God.

Sweat lodge ceremonies are closely linked with the religious practices of certain native American groups. Sometimes referred to as a ‘medicine lodge’ or a ‘medicine house’, a structure is built to facilitate a type of ceremonial sauna. In isolation and under extreme heat, the participants engage the process through drumming, chanting, and offerings to the spirit world.

God, through His Word, the Bible, has made it abundantly clear how we can and should engage Him.

First of all, we don’t need another human being to connect with God. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Simply put, our direct connection to God and unlocking the full potential of the spiritual you is through Jesus Christ exclusively – not through a guru with manipulative ideas and deep pockets.

Second, we don’t need to connect with God through physical manipulation or sensory stimulation. So many sadly rely, and are led into believing, that achieving a certain euphoric emotional state (oftentimes manipulated) is their way of ripping the veil separating us and the Almighty. Jesus told a rejected woman in Sychar, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (John 4:23).

James, a brother of Christ and leader of the Jerusalem church, wrote something so beautiful, “Come near to God and he will come near to you..” (4:8a). Friends, the cross of Christ is proof that nobody wants to connect with you more than your heavenly Father! No one paid a higher cost to forge such a precious and necessary relationship. Scripture reminds us that while we were still God’s enemies, Jesus died for us. In other words, we don’t have to torture ourselves and subject ourselves to false teachers to get it!

So, how do we authentically connect with God? The answer is simple – Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

So, if you are hungry to connect with the Highest Power available, I’ve got good news for you! Put the self-help book down. ‘Void’ your $9,000 check. And, save yourself from a whole lot of physical and emotional exertion and manipulation.

God is wanting you to connect with Him today – right where you are – through the Lord Jesus Christ.

No sweat!

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