Intro to My Book, Love Thy Neighbor…?
Chapter 1: What Is the Spirit of Religion
Chapter 2: Cut Your Hair
Chapter 3: Baseball Caps…the Root of All Evil
Chapter 4: The Suits
Chapter 5: Be Ye Separate
Chapter 6: Work Out Your Own Salvation
Chapter 7: Calling It Like It Is
Chapter 8: Tattoos and Piercings
Chapter 9: Hidden Sin, the Excommunicator
Chapter 10: …That They May Be One
Chapter 11: Pride and Its Dominion Within the Church
About the Author
Writing this book has been a difficult endeavor. It was birthed at an incredibly transitional, even pivotal time in God’s election for my life. The topics I have chosen to address are very close to my heart and I have strong personal feelings attached to them. As a result, when I began writing two years ago, many of the chapters initially came off like a strong reproof from God through one of his Old Testament prophets. I recognized at that time that much of this book could be received negatively, especially if the reader did not understand where I, as the author, was coming from. So although there is still a strong address of issues in this book, I felt God instructing me to go back and reword some things so that it is understood that these subjects are addressed from a loving perspective.
With this in mind, I have also decided to release this book under two titles, “The Spirit of Religion” and “Love thy Neighbor…? When a Spirit of Religion Opposes the Heart of God.” The two have nearly identical content, but I felt that the titles and covers would appeal to different types of people and chose to release the book dual titled. When I began writing this book initially, I felt that it would be directed and marketed mainly toward people who were not Christians and simply turned off by Christianity in general. However, as the book matured I found that the content seemed to be as applicable, if not more, to Christians as to those who were not, if they were willing to apply it to their lives. When I realized this, the book seemed to take a different turn than originally purposed. My desire for this book is that it would be easily applicable but not overly complicated for any one on any spiritual level. As a result, writing it was a very difficult process.
Not too long ago, I was speaking with one of my Pastors about this very subject and writing this book. She asked me, “What is your win?” At first I was confused about what she was asking, so she rephrased the question by saying, “Define your win for writing this book…What do you want this book to accomplish when someone reads it?” I have replayed this question over and over in my mind. When I do, I resort back to an experience that I had during this writing process…
A few years ago, while hanging out in a tattoo shop, I got to know an artist named Vic. Vic asked me what I did for a living and I explained to him that I was a cop and a minister. Like most, Vic found this to be a bizarre combination and told me that I was not like any cop or minister that he had ever met. Vic began to speak openly about his life and experiences. Eventually, the conversation turned to religion. Vic asked me many questions about God and explained to me that he believed in God but was ultimately turned off by “God’s people.” He explained that he did not feel comfortable going to church or even pursuing Christianity because he felt that he would be judged instead of embraced by Christians. I have probably met hundreds over the years who have relayed this same story to me. Like Vic, they feel that something about them makes them an unacceptable candidate for Christianity. It may be because of a negative experience in church or just that they do not feel that they are worthy of any relationship with God because of their past. Whatever the reason, it is how they feel and as Christians, we should be concerned with what is keeping them from coming to know God. When I explained to Vic that I was writing a book addressing many of the issues that we were discussing, he told me that he wanted to read it when it was completed. His desire to read a book about these issues spoke volumes to me about the importance of this books message.
Over the course of my life and nearly 15 years of ministry I have seen many, many, people hurt by those who call themselves “Christians.” Some claim to be “saved” but do not display the nature of Christ, whom they say they love and follow. I came to realize that this inconsistent lifestyle coupled with blatant judgment has produced a stench in the nostrils of those who remain unloved and unmoved by the Christian church and its followers. The fact is that many people hate Christians for what we believe. The problem with that is that not all that we “believe” is biblical. This book addresses these issues directly and is intended to confront these inconsistencies from a loving and instructional perspective.
For those reading this book who have been let down, hurt, discredited or discarded by a church or its followers…know this: God loves you, and not all who call themselves Christians exercise the same indiscretion as those who may have unjustly judged or hurt you. Regardless of your experiences, God wants to have an intimate and personal relationship with you. I believe that it is because of God’s love for you and those just like you that this book has been purposed.
Just because we are Christians does not mean we are right. I believe that it is not only healthy, but essential as Christians, that we constantly look inside of ourselves and weigh what we believe. I am confident that addressing some of the subjects in this book may enlighten some and anger others. If you become angry when reading a chapter in this book, challenge yourself by asking why this particular subject strikes a nerve. You may be surprised by your own analysis.
In my study of people and Christianity, it seems that one thing remains constant…some who call themselves “Christians” have a Religion and some have a Relationship. Although they are often mistaken as synonymous, the two are completely different. The teachings in this book will address issues from that perspective. The chapters address different religious views on particular subjects. At times, the core message will be repetitive. That is because many times people will see another’s faults on one subject but fail to see their own on a similar issue, when actually, at the root, their problem is the same. Judgment is judgment. Many will be able to identify when another person is being judgmental toward them, but fail to see the same spirit operating within themselves on a different matter. For this reason, the chapters in this book will sometimes reference or build off of instruction established in previous chapters. I hope that this approach and repetition will establish consistency, and as a result, be challenging to your personal walk with Christ.
When a person’s beliefs are challenged it is almost always uncomfortable. However, my sincere desire or “win” in writing this is that the Spirit of Religion is removed from our personal lives and we see the love of God established across denominational divides. Ultimately, this will challenge your beliefs and hopefully lead you to a relationship with God that goes much deeper than the religion of yesteryear. I will not be so arrogant as to say that everything in this book is absolute truth. Rather, I will commission you to do as I have — weigh these subjects with much thought and prayer. If it lines up with sound biblical teaching and God gives you confirmation of its integrity, then, and only then, apply it to your Christian walk. If you weigh it and do not consider it to be applicable to your life, then by all means, disregard it and be blessed. Whichever the case, I pray that integrity, truth and sound judgment will be manifested in your life and that the blessings of the Lord will be continually upon you.