How to Get Around All the “Rules” in Religion – Why You Should Think Twice About Leaving the Church.

Have you ever felt like your church, friends, or family seem to govern their lives and the lives of others by rules they think should be in place?

Do you ever feel like Christianity, or religion, is all about the rules?

Well you may be on to something. There is a HUGE issue in the church today that seems to lurk behind all the reasons young people, middle aged people, and yes, even older people (you choose where you fit) leave the church.

It’s all about the rules. At least thats how mortal, human beings try to put it. Because they don’t know how to do it any other way.

And if its all about the rules, then there has to be a rule for everything.

What you can’t eat. And then when you stopped eating that, you can’t it this.

What you can’t wear. And when you changed and wear something “more modest”, you can’t wear this.

What you can’t listen to.

What you can’t watch.

Who you can’t date.

Who you can’t love — the big homosexuality issue included.

PEOPLE!!! STOP IT!!!

You know you can’t keep every single rule. And you know that when you don’t, WE ARE WATCHING! Then you become a hypocrite, and then we leave the church, because we don’t want to be around that kind of example.

Is it REALLY all about the rules?

“Whatever may be their profession, it is only those who are world servers at heart that act from policy rather than principle in religious things. We should choose the right because it is right, and leave consequences with God. To men of principle, faith, and daring, the world is indebted for its great reforms. By such men, the work of reform for this time must be carried forward.”

– E. G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 460

Principle.

What in the world is principle?

Oxford Dictionary states this:

Principle:
A fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour or for a chain of reasoning.

Even Jesus had this one figured out.

A pharisees asked him, “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”

“He said to him, ‘ Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.’ “

– Matthew 22: 36-40 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Wait, what?

The greatest is love?

Love.

The fundamental truth behind the law. This is where all the rules are established. So, you define your own rules* in life. Except for the rules God gave, of course.

“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”

– 1 John 3:23

WHOA. God gave a commandment. A LAW. And that law is LOVE!

It is NOT “don’t wear this.”

It is NOT “don’t eat this.”

It is NOT “don’t listen to or watch this.”

Its LOVE.

Now don’t get me wrong, when it’s all about love, then out of love, you choose wisely what you eat, what you wear, what you watch or listen to, because of your love for God, love for others, and love for yourself.

Oh yeah. Loving yourself isn’t wrong. Jesus said to love your neighbor AS yourself, not better than yourself.

So have a little respect for God, others, AND yourself.

Have a little love.

*Note: When I say define your own rules, I mean if live by the principle, and allow the rule to be defined by your situation.

e.g. If you live in a conservative community, that has a problem with wearing a wedding ring, even though you don’t, love your neighbor by not making a big deal about it, and respond by taking it off so you don’t distract them, and cause them to major in the minors. When you are not in that situation, and in a different environment where it won’t be a distraction, then by all means, you can wear the wedding ring!


 

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I am NOT a Seventh-Day Adventist (My letter of confession)

I’m not a Seventh-Day Adventist.

Yes. You read that right.

I’m NOT a Seventh-Day Adventist.

I can pretty much read your mind right now.

If you are no longer in the church you are thinking, where is this guy going. Did he leave the church?

If you are in the church you are thinking, what happened? I need to pray for him. This is so sad!

So, before you put a label on me and declare me as a lost soul, finish reading this post.

What is a Seventh-Day Adventist?

Wikipedia has a good description:

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming (advent) of Jesus Christ.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventh-day_Adventist_Church

Seventh-Day Adventists are well known for their funny sounding name that reminds people of the “Church of Jesus Christ and of the Latter-Day Saints” (Mormons), a totally separate, different denomination that claims to be a Protestant Christian Church.

Once you get past that misunderstanding, people say, OH! You worship on Saturday.

Nope. THAT is why I’m NOT at Seventh-Day Adventist.

Okay, yes, I worship on Saturday. I go to church on that day, and don’t work, and celebrate the day God set aside for all man kind. But the problem is, I don’t ONLY worship on that day.

I worship on every day of the week! Worshipping God is an ALL-THE-TIME thing.

Did you ever notice when reading the book of Daniel, he worshipped God in everything he did, AND, he prayed three times a day! Every day was set aside for God in his life.

So this is my confession to you.

I am NOT a Seventh-Day Adventist. I’m a Seven-Day Adventist and I fully approve the message of the Seventh-Day Adventist church.

The SDA church’s website says this:

Seventh-day Adventist beliefs are meant to permeate your whole life. Growing out of scriptures that paint a compelling portrait of God, you are invited to explore, experience and know the One who desires to make us whole.

http://www.adventist.org

Note: It said SDA believes are meant to permeate your WHOLE life. Not your Saturday life. Not your church life. Your WHOLE life.

So, are you a Seventh-Day Adventist?

Bless and Be Blessed

Our school planted a little church in Arvika, Sweden, a couple years ago, by the help of a generous family with roots in that area. The wife of the Union president where I live was was given a project from her grandfather, who wished that the money would be used to start a church and do mission work in what happens to be one of the darkest, most satanic part of Sweden (Sweden is well-known for its witchcraft and sorcery), where he lived.

When the president and his wife met Matteson at ASI in the US, the couple asked Matteson to help get this project going, and the fruits are wonderful. There have been a couple baptisms, and several community members are attending regularly, we have our own Bible-worker there, and there is another family doing amazing work there as well.

This Sabbath was a special one, because the newly born daughter of this family was to be dedicated. They had invited Elder Torkelsen to do the dedication, and since he was visiting here in Scandinavia to see family, and the ministries he supports, he was able to do it.

The dedication was beautiful, the family has two gorgeous children, and everything is wonderful. But that is just one of my blessings. My biggest blessing has its own beginnings that go back to my early teen years, when I was 14.

When I was 14, I was sent to a school called Advent Home, a school for troubled, at-risk youth. Yes, to answer the question that just entered your mind, I was a troubled youth. I was not the polite, friendly, nice person I try to be today. I had many issues with my parents, probably having to do with my identity as an adopted child, among other things. I was in a depression, some-what bipolar. One minute I would be a sweet, homeschool child, and the next moment, I would be screaming out at my parents in anger, yelling hurtful words and destroying things. This is a long story, which has many details, and I am not proud of this past, but, I am thankful to God for this intervention.

When I went to this school, I found out quickly that the only way for me to be able to leave the school was to finish the “Maturation Therapy” program in use there. It meant that I had to genuinely become a well-behaved, mature youth, and I would be there until I did so. After resisting this plan for about five months, I decided I had to do what it takes, and six months later I was graduating from the program, and moving on to regular high school. The program was really good, and even though I did not enjoy any of it (it was made not to enjoy, but to learn), I learned so much, and it turned my life around. I learned to be the nice, friendly person I strive to be today. And so much more. But that is a personal testimony for another time.

Fast-forward a few years, I was in Honduras, during my internship with Matteson. My classmate, Annie, was telling me about a dream she had. She wanted to start a school for troubled youth. When I heard this, I remembered my days at Advent Home, and I told her if she wanted to do something like this, my family owns a large piece of property in the mountains of Washington State, and she could possibly use it. She thought about it, but decided she wanted to do it in Canada, where she lives.

When I heard this, I started thinking. What if I did it anyways, on my property. What if I opened a school of my own for troubled youth, and used this piece of heaven that I call home as a safe plays for youth to turn their lives around, and learn to have the relationship with God that I have today.

I called a staff member from Advent Home, and asked her what she thought. She quickly responded, “Advent Home has just closed. You MUST do this. There are youth all over the US that need a program like this, and we cannot do it anymore.”

I then called the director, and asked him about my idea. He said, “You may use my program. You may even have my donor list, and any information you may need. I will even advise you on your board.”

I quickly got on my knees and praised God, and also asked, “Lord, what shall I do? I am only 20 years old, with no experience being a parent, or a director of any ministry, and I certainly do not have a qualifying education.”

I told my parents the plans, and they said they would share it with a couple church members that have experience working with troubled youth. (My parents used to work at Advent Home before I was born, and are very supportive of this idea). When they told me what the church members had said, I knew the Lord wanted this to happen. Both said that they would give everything to help this ministry happen. I already had two staff, a curriculum/program, and 30 hectares of land to use.

So, the blessings kept pouring in, people were getting interested, and doors kept opening. It seemed as though The Lord was saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it.”

Then, I started getting discouraged. What is a young adult like me doing something like this. I would be giving up my dreams of becoming a missionary pilot, marrying a nurse and living somewhere like Papua New Guinea serving God through in the jungle, risking my life for the salvation of souls. (Or would I?)

Finally, this Sabbath arrives. The Union president and I are chatting about life back home in Washington State, and I decided, why not ask him about this idea of starting such a school.

So I asked, and his response blew me away. “There is a HUGE need for such a school. The one we used to have(Project Patch) is no longer Adventist and they are teaching and using dangerous psychology practices.”

It gets even better. I told him I want to work in close union with the Church, and establish a relationship of trust. He said, “Then I am the guy you need to talk to. I’m all for it. Let’s MAKE it happen.”

WHAT??? Make it happen? He didn’t even say, “Well, I would need to talk with my board, and you would need to get legal documentation and so on and so forth, in order for us to consider your proposal*.”

If there was ever a prayer answered, it was this one. I have my Seventh Day Adventist church union on my side!! God is so good.