My Personal Experience with Religion

I have considered myself a religious person for most of my life.  I was saved at ten years old, but I have been in church since I was two years old.  I know that many people say that religion and Christianity are not the same, but I am one of those few people who do believe that religion is important to.  I think that you cannot have one without the other.  They are both vital to the spiritual makeup of a person.
If it had not been for my acceptance of Christ and the Holy Spirit that dwells in me, I don’t know what would have happened to me.  I definitely would not be the person that I am today.  I have always prayed about everything.  I believe that God is my spiritual father, and just like I talk with my biological father and converse with him everyday, I talk with my heavenly about everything.
I believe that it is very hard to talk freely with a stranger.  Before you open up and bare your soul to someone, there is an established relationship.  It is the same with God.  It is extremely hard to take everything to him if a person does not know him.  I cannot remember a time when I have not had a relationship with him.

It has made a huge difference in my life to be able to talk to him about everything.  I have actually had many prayers answered.  There is no way that I could remember all of them since they have happened every day of my life.  Therefore, my spiritualism has grown and changed over time.  When I was much younger, I saw God as one who had to be obeyed, but I have now grown to the point where I actually do have a relationship with him.  I used to worry so much about how I would handle everything in my life.
Now I know that it is all in God’s hands.  I have learned that I have to completely trust him, and that all of my plans and worrying is not going to help.   It sounds on paper like I have just given up, but nothing can be further from the truth.  I have actually gotten stronger, and the time I used to spend on worrying, I now spend on talking to God.
I do think that my religion has helped to strengthen my relationship with God.  It is through my religion that I have a church family of people who I can depend upon for my strength.  It is a wonderful sense of well being when I know that I have a whole host of people behind me that love and care about me because of our common beliefs through Jesus Christ.  I also believe that a religion is easier to understand when you are a part of it because you have access to others to teach you.  I have always had mentors and ministers to help me in my understanding of the faith that I have chosen.
They not only tell me what they believe about it, but they have encouraged me to seek the scriptures to find my answers, and since they are more experienced than I am, they can steer me in the right direction to find those scriptures.  The faith that I am associated with encourages its members to seek answers from the scripture.  It is not encouraged to accept something just because a person tells us that is the way that it is.  I have many friends from other faiths, and it is nearly impossible for them to overcome the stereotypes that they have heard about my religion.  I find that I have the same problem when it comes to theirs as well.
As I stated earlier, my religion encourages its members to try our beliefs with what the scriptures says.  Because of that I do think that I can remain objective.  I have learned that when I challenge something that someone of my faith says is right or wrong, I can go to the scriptures and if it is not there, I can choose to disregard the opinion.  In fact I believe that everyone has challenged at least one thing that their religion upholds.  I think that is only human and it is perfectly natural.
If one cannot be objective and at least listen to both sides of a religious topic, then the person must look closely at whether he/she is brainwashed.  Questioning and objectivity is a good thing.  One cannot grow and accept other if he/she does not remain objective.  The only thing that cannot be changed what the Bible says about an issue.
My life has been a full one and it has been steeped in religion.  I have enjoyed it immensely.  I am proud of the way that I have grown in my religion and my faith.  I would have to say that my religious experience has been a totally positive experience.
Works Cited
Warren, Rick. The Purpose Driven Life. 2003. Nashville: Zonderman Press.
The Sacred Ritual
There have been many sacred rituals that I have participated in during the course of my life.  The one that I enjoy the most and that has had the most impact on me is communion.  It is something that started with the night of Jesus’ arrest before his crucifixion.  I believe that the ritual is so beautiful and meaningful that I get emotional every time I take it.
When I was a little child, I could not understand why all of the adults got to eat and drink from those cute cups and I could not have it.  Therefore, I suppose I hated the ritual at first.  I especially couldn’t understand how my own mother, who share everything with her children, could eat and drink in front of us and not even give us a taste.  I remember that her attempts at explaining it to us were feeble at best, so I would get angry every communion.  I cannot help but get a little tickled even today when I hear the small children at my church when communion is served.  Most of them are questioning their parents and grandparents and I automatically go back to my youth in my mind and remember all of my frustrations.
Once I was saved and was able to take communion, I was just so glad that I was one of the big people, that I still did not realize the significance of what I was doing.  It was not until I was in my late teens that I realized what it was really all about.  At my church, a sermon on communion is always preached.  It might seem repetitive to some, but like a favorite bedtime story, or favorite movie, it is a joy to revisit the seen of the last supper.  I love the part where Jesus explains to the disciples what each part of the ritual means, and I enjoy what the Apostle Paul explains that it is not just a fellowship supper, but a meaningful link between Jesus and the Christian people.
I find it refreshing during the part where all of the Christians in the church take time to reflect on the sins in their lives.  Sometimes it is painful when they are remembered, but after I have asked forgiveness, I feel as fresh as a newborn baby.  I am ready to start over.  There is also a time to ask forgiveness of others that we might have wronged.  This is also a special time.  I love it when I am reunited with someone that I have been at odds with.
Then there is the sacred time of sharing the bread and the cup with our Lord Jesus.  The bread is the symbol of the body of Christ.  When we break it to eat it, it symbolizes what cruelties were done to his body.  I was not in Jerusalem the day of the crucifixion, but by taking part in communion I can be.  He died as much for me as he did the ones living at the time.  Therefore, when I break the bread, I am actually symbolizing that I did break his body so that he could die for my sins.  Then I drink from the cup that is supposed to represent the blood of Christ.  Without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sin.  When I drink from the cup, I symbolize that his blood was spilled, and only through the spilling of the Savior’s blood could I be saved.
When I ponder these things, I get chilled just knowing what Jesus has done for me and every other person.  He did not have to, but he willingly went to the cross for us.  Communion is one of the ways that I get to be reminded of the tremendous gift that Christ gave to all mankind.
Works Cited
The Holy Bible. King James Version. New York: Thomas Nelson Press.
My Understanding
Since I have taken this class, I have had a little better understanding of evil in the world.  I say a little because I have thought about this so much that my feelings on the matter have progressed over a long period of time.
I feel that there are many reasons that God allows evil to exist in the world.  I believe that man has a great deal to do with it.  Yes, God is all powerful, but he allows us to live with the mess that we have made.  I will use the example of the horrible Hurricane Katrina.  There were many good people who lost everything that they had and many even lost their lives.  The same can be said of those who had not lived good lives.  There were babies who died, many elderly, and many in the prime of their lives.
Some might question why God would allow this to happen.  Instead they should question man.  It was man who built so many houses and cleared so many forest and wetlands that the water had no where to go.  It was man who built underneath Lake Pontchartrain, and it was man who did not do adequate upkeep on the levies.  It could be argued that man helped create the hurricane itself with his utter disregard to the environment which is leading to global warming.  It is man who has to live with the decisions he and others before him have made.  God designed the earth to be perfect.  It was man who messed things up and brought sin into the earth.  If he had stopped man, then he would have taken away personal choice.
My ability to understand what is right and wrong has changed over the years.  First I accepted what my parents told me was right and wrong.  When I became a teen, I judged what was right and wrong with what I wanted to do and think.  Now I search the scriptures.  I read the Bible as much as I can, and I have a pretty good feel for the obvious things that are right and wrong.  I will argue an opinion, but when it comes to the Word of God, I feel that if it is in the Bible, then that is the way that it is.
I pray about situations that I have a difficult time determining what is right and wrong, and God never fails to send me a sign.  Sometimes it is not the one that I wanted, but he still delivers.  I also rely on what many people call a conscious, but I feel is the Holy Spirit.  I believe if I listen to the still small voice within me, then it is usually more right than what society tells me is right and wrong.
Socrates` question: `Is something right because God commands it or does he command it because it is right?`  I feel that there are times that people think too much and this is an example.  Words are powerful and they can also have the power to confuse us.  I feel that God only commands what is right and he is omnipotent therefore he is right.  If he is the creator of all things, and I believe that he is, then he created right and wrong.  At the same time he commands things to be right because he determined it.  God is right.
Works Cited
Stearns, Bill. Fine Lines: Knowing God’s Right/Wrongs for Your Life. San Bernardino: Here’s
Life Publishers. 1987.

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