Don’t Be A Religiopath

Today is Saturday, July 29, 2017. Day 21,688. 21 days until S’s birthday!

“An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.” ~ Jef Mallett, Frazz, 4/4/07
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is membranophone, a noun meaning, “any musical instrument, as a drum, in which the sound is produced by striking, rubbing, or blowing against a membrane stretched over a frame.” A tambourine, for example, would be classified as a membranophone.

Today is Lasagna Day. I shouldn’t have seen that. I’m really hungry.

Yesterday being Friday, we naturally wound up having to work late again. This time, I didn’t get home until after 8:00 PM. Ugh. Oh, well. I am thankful that I have a job to go to, I say through gritted teeth.

Today, we have our monthly Night of Worship. So we will be at the host’s home at around 3:30 this afternoon. We’ll eat first, then practice for a bit, and the NoW starts at 6:00-ish. Hoping for a great time of intimate worship and prayer tonight.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Psalm 103:1
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! 
Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies! 
Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds. 
When their judges are thrown over the cliff, then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant.

Psalm 141:3-6
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. 
Psa 25:5  Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25:4-5
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. 
The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.

Psalm 145:18-20
I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. 
I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.

Psalm 77:11-12

(From Living the Message)

In today’s reading, called “Religiopath,” Eugene H. Peterson begins with a story about the 1980 Boston Marathon. A marathon, of course, is one of the most strenuous athletic events there is. 26.2 miles of steady running. I see frequently see cars, on my morning and afternoon drives, with those little oval stickers on them, “26.2,” “13.1.” I’ve thought about seeing if I could get one that said “0.0.”

Anyway. In 1980, a woman named Rosie Ruiz was the first woman to cross the finish line. “She had the laurel wreath placed on her head in a blaze of lights and cheering.”

No one had heard her name before. It was an amazing feat! She had won the Boston Marathon on her first try! But then, someone noticed the condition of her legs. They weren’t tight and muscular. There was visible cellulite. It came to light that no one else had seen her during the 26.2 mile race. “The truth came out: she had jumped into the race during the last mile.”

There was sudden and widespread interest in Rosie. Why would she do such a thing when it was certain that she would be exposed? A true athletic performance can never be faked. “But she never admitted her fraud. She repeatedly said that she would run another marathon to validate her ability. Somehow she never did.” Eventually, an interviewer came to the conclusion that she truly believed she had run the entire race and come in first place. “She was analyzed as a sociopath. She lied convincingly and naturally with no sense of conscience, no sense of reality in terms of right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable behavior.”

Peterson, in reading her story, began to think about people who want to “get in on the finish but who cleverly arrange not to run the race. They appear in church on Sunday wreathed in smiles, entering into the celebration, but there is no personal life that leads up to it or out from it.” There are occasional acts of service or love, but no consistency in the life. “They are plausible and convincing. But in the end they do not run the race, believing through the tough times, praying through the lonely, angry, hurt hours. They have no sense for what is real in religion.” Peterson calls these people religiopaths.

For a few seconds, I’m going to do something that I seldom do. I have believed in Jesus Christ as long as I can remember. I have been a regular church attender for longer than I can remember (I’m sure I was at church the first Sunday that my parents could take me). Of course, going to church doesn’t make one a follower of Christ any more than sitting in a freezer makes one a carton of ice cream.

I believe that, albeit quite imperfectly, I am running the race. I have never stopped running the race. I have believed through tough times, some brought on by my own sin and stupidity. I have, even though tempted to believe that God had abandoned me, never given up on my faith in Jesus. I have watched countless friends “fall away” over the years. It hurts my soul when that happens. Again, my race is nowhere near perfect. I constantly stray off the path, fall in ditches, and trip over stones. But I always get up, brush myself off, and by the grace of God and the power of his Spirit, keep running. Or at least walking. I don’t run much, these days.

The thing is, I am not, in my opinion, a religioupath. But I know some people who seem to be. I know people with incredible knowledge of the Bible, who, for some reason, can’t seem to love their way out of a paper bag. All of that truth does no good without love. Paul makes that clear in 1 Corinthians 13. I, admittedly, used to be a lot like that. There was a time in my life when I knew the Bible better than I know it now. I used to boast that I’ve read it from cover to cover almost twenty times. I don’t boast about that any more, because I don’t think it’s important. What’s important is how the Word of God works in us and through us; how it speaks to us.

And how we love one another.

I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself. 
1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (The Message)

Father, I’m trusting you in this journey, this “race.” The path that I am on (or at least try to be on) is that path on which you have placed me. It is my path. No one else’s path is of any concern to me, other than the necessity that I cheer them on as they run their path. But it is also important for me to realize that how I run my race affects other people, as well. Every action, thought, reaction, and word that comes from me has an effect on the body of Christ. We cannot run our race alone, and we dare not try. Help me to not be a religiopath. Help me to stay the course, run the race, and walk in the easy yoke of Jesus.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.
Isaiah 41:10 (The Message)

Grace and peace, friends.

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