The following is a report on the practical applications of David Foster's recent book, A Renegade’s Guide to God: Finding Life Outside Conventional Christianity, (Warner Faith, 2006).


Jesus never meant for you to be crushed under the weight of rigid rules and self-righteous religious agendas. You can still love Him with deep conviction if you break free and start living as a renegade for God – someone who rejects conventional religion yet embraces faith with a passion.


So go ahead and trade religion for real life in Jesus.  Here’s how:


* Understand that God loves you as you are, not as you ought to be. Stop futile efforts to earn God’s love and accept the fact that there’s absolutely nothing you can do to make Him love you any more or less. Know that He loves you deeply and unconditionally right now.


* Seek transformation instead of just a moral makeover. Recognize that God doesn’t want you simply to change your morals for the better; He wants you to give Him your whole heart so He can transform you into a different person. Know that real faith transcends just adopting a certain lifestyle, joining a certain denomination, or espousing certain political views. Understand that true and lasting change is internal, not external.


* Get rid of shame. Don’t allow people to pile shame on you for past sins with which you’ve already dealt properly. Have confidence that, if you respond to guilt in a healthy way by confessing and repenting, you can count on God’s forgiveness. Remember that once God forgives you, you are free. Accept His forgiveness and move on with your life in peace.


* Stand out rather than fitting in. Understand that God’s goal isn’t for you to just be compliant and fit into a bland and boring group of nice people. Celebrate the unique person God created you to be, and don’t be afraid of standing out in a crowd. Reject labels from people who don’t know you well, and let people get to know you. Embrace God’s purposes for your life, and don’t settle for anything less. Use the distinctive talents He has given you to contribute to the world in ways that only you can. Overcome apathy and don’t waste the time you have. Pursue significance, putting your faith in action to make the world a better place because you lived. Discover true fulfillment by investing your life in what matters most.


* Dream big. Be bold about asking God what His dreams are for you; you will likely find that many of them are beyond what you’ve been dreaming for yourself. Then have the courage to embrace those dreams. Don’t let negative people discourage you from pursuing big dreams. Be willing to take whatever risks are necessary to follow God’s dreams for you, trusting that He will provide all you need along the way. Don’t be one of those people who looks back in regret for not having tried; give your best to pursuing your dreams, and look forward to them coming true.