Archive for May, 2011

Throw the Mask in the Trash.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 19, 2011 by Eric Lapata

Your Facebook status says, “everything is great-life couldn’t be any better!” The smile on your face as you walk into a room tells everyone that you’re doing well. But, behind the Facebook statuses and the smiles, you’re not doing fine. In fact, you’re struggling, hurting, feeling empty, and lonely. If this at all reflects your life currently, let me encourage you that there is freedom from such a life.

Recently, if I may be candid for a moment, my life has been an acting job. If one could be nominated for an Academy Award for living a fake life, I would win the award hands down. Behind my “everything is great” attitude and positive outlook on life, my soul has been downcast for quite a while. Even though I’ve tried to hide my feelings behind a pasted-on smile, I knew that I was dying on the inside and I couldn’t continue living like this. Something had to change. And it did.

This past week or so, I feel like I have trashed the mask and got real with what’s going on inside of me. I’ve realized that even though I may feel down or struggle with life, God welcomes my authenticity. Even the writer of Psalm 42, who felt lonely and depressed, poured out his true feelings to God. Look at the realness of the author:

“My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be…Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?” (v.4a-5a).

He didn’t hold back his words with God, nor was he fake about what he was going through. He was real. And God welcomed it!

If you’re reading this and you’re living a fake life behind the mask, take it off and lay it at feet of Jesus. He cares for you, loves you, and desires you-the REAL you. And when you realize that God isn’t looking for an actor, but someone who can say, “God, I’m hurting, desperate and I need You”, freedom sinks in to the depths of your heart and soul.

I can’t guarantee you that life will be instantly amazing  when you come out behind the mask. Even as I write this, I still battle the pain of deep struggle. Yet, in the pain and the hurt, I have hope. And so will you. The same hope that the lonely psalmist had:

“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I WILL put my hope in God! I WILL praise him again-my Savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:5-6, emphasis mine).

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Anti-Religious.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 4, 2011 by Eric Lapata

“So, you’re a religious guy?” is the question that I often get when people ask me what I do for a living. Since I serve at a church full-time, people often ask me a lot of questions about my beliefs. I love these questions because it allows me talk to people about my belief in Jesus and how He has radically changed my life. Not only do I like to answer questions from others, but I also love asking people about what they believe. Often, people respond to questions I ask them with the following answer: “Sorry, I am not a religious person.” From there is when the conversation gets interesting because I ALWAYS respond back with the same exact answer: “Sorry, I am not a religious person either.”

The look on the faces of people who hear me give the same answer as they just gave me is priceless. I love it! They are confused, yet extremely interested because I told them that I love Jesus with a passion, but I agreed with them that I am not religious. Am I being condescending? Can this actually be true? Let me briefly explain.

Religion from my perspective is a bunch of rules that one must obey in order to follow God. It is irrelevant, legalistic, and dry. In religion, one must continue to try harder and harder to please God, yet the results of one’s efforts are both unfulfilling and empty. Religion says, “look at me and what I have done and accomplished” and ultimately leaves God out of the picture. And finally, religion weighs down a person with the pressure to perform for God while never really knowing if the performance is good enough or not.

There’s more than religion…far more that we can being to wrap our minds around…

Christianity destroys religion. It isn’t about following the rules in order to have a relationship with God-it’s MUCH more than this. Christianity is having a relationship with the living God through sheer grace, which is found in Jesus Christ. It is not works- based, but rather faith-based saturated in grace (Ephesians 3:5-6). We are unconditionally loved (John 3:16), guaranteed a place in Heaven (1 Peter 1:4), and are children of the living God (1 John 5:1). We have been saved from an empty life (1 Peter 1:18), freed from the powers of this world (Colossians 2:20), and a new creation, starting fresh in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I can go on and on about what Jesus has done to free us from religion. Hopefully as you read this, you get a taste, a sample of what Christ can do when He transforms your life.

It’s freedom…from religion…