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"Belief and Choice: The Foundation of Faith."


Introduction:

Good morning, Church family! Today, I want to talk about belief and choice and how our faith is influenced by those who came before us. As someone who has walked a varied path—from a Military Security Specialist in the U.S. Air Force to a Logger in Oregon, an over-the-road Trucker across the USA and into Canada, and now a retired Pastor—I’ve seen firsthand how deeply held beliefs shape our lives.


John 14:6 says, "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" This is a powerful statement. Yet, it raises a crucial question: Why do so many people reject Jesus' teachings?


The Basis of Belief:

1. **Influence and Tradition**:

Let's start by recognizing that our beliefs are often inherited. Mormons believe in Joseph Smith, Jehovah's Witnesses in Charles Taze Russell, Muslims in Muhammad, and Buddhists in Buddha. These leaders have profoundly influenced their followers’ faiths. Just as I embraced Christianity and saw my life transformed, many others followed the teachings they had been introduced to.


2. **The Teachings of Jesus**:

Jesus’ words in John 14:6 present a unique claim—that He is the sole path to God. This cornerstone of our Christian faith, which I embraced at 28, led me to over two decades of pastoral service. I’ve seen how these teachings can transform lives, just as they did mine.


3. **Respecting Differences**:

It’s essential to acknowledge the diversity of beliefs. Each faith has its path, and it’s not our place to force our beliefs on others. True Christianity is about offering a choice. In my journey, whether serving as a Police Chaplain, Baseball Chaplain, or Marriage and Family counselor, I've always presented faith as an offer—no strings attached.


The Nature of Christian Faith:

1. **Freedom of Choice**:

Christianity fundamentally respects free will. Just as I chose to follow Christ, each person must make their own choice. Revelation 3:20 illustrates this beautifully: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” This verse emphasizes that Jesus is offering, not forcing, His presence into our lives.


2. **Comparison with Other Religions**:

Some religions may enforce strict adherence and have severe consequences for leaving the faith. Christianity, in contrast, offers faith without compulsion. During my tenure at the Family Worship Center in Butte, Montana, I always ensured that the message of Christ was an invitation, never a demand.


Why Reject Jesus?:

1. **Cultural and Historical Context**:

Beliefs are deeply rooted in cultural and historical contexts. For instance, the teachings I embraced were influenced by my journey from birth in Selma and being raised in Camden, Alabama, to Oregon, my retirement home, and my various experiences. Similarly, societal norms have historically influenced religious acceptance and rejection.


2. **The Challenge of Jesus’ Claims**:

Jesus makes radical and challenging assertions. Embracing Jesus requires a significant change in perspective. Understandably, this may pose a challenge for many individuals. However, having experienced various personal transformations, such as victory over alcoholism and surviving cancer while consistently undergoing treatment for PTSD, I can attest to the transformative impact of adopting Jesus' principles.


Conclusion:

Our beliefs are shaped by those who came before us, but faith in Jesus is a personal choice. As a pastor, I have always strived to respect others' beliefs while confidently sharing the message of Jesus. Let us respect others' faith journeys while presenting the love of Christ with no strings attached.


Call to Action:

I invite anyone curious about Jesus' teachings to explore. Join a Bible study group, engage in conversation, and see where the journey leads you. Let us close in prayer, asking for understanding, compassion, and the courage to share our faith with love and respect.


Thank you, and God bless.

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