Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Intent

Intent

Intent is our aim or purpose or intentions in something.  Sometimes we have good intent and sometimes we have bad intent. But, our intentions should always strive to be good and healthy and as Christians, Godly.

We have too many churches and too many Christians who are supposed to wear the name Christian and be the church, yet their intentions are not pure and holy and of God, they are of their own agenda and purposes. That is sin and we need to repent when we have other intentions besides worshipping, honoring, and glorifying God.

Too many times Christians even out in the work place, or our schools, or world do things will ill intent and that does not represent Christ or His church well.  We have a responsibility if we are going to be a Christ-follower and claim His name and if we're going to be a body member(part) of His Church Body we must represent Him and His church body well.

None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes, but the difference between mistake and calculated is intent, the difference between accident and on purpose is intent.  When people go to trials for murders, drugs, and different things the key to the case is whether they can prove the person's intent or not.   Though, we are not on trial, we are under the watchful eye and authority of our God and His desire is for all of us to live with Godly intentions.

This can take on many forms in many situations, but when we serve in any capacity our intent should be use our talents for God, build up His church, and give Him glory not our own personal or egotistical intentions.   When we give whether of our time, our talents, or treasures(financially) to God's church our intent should always be to do it and give it to God, not for our own insincere or selfish motives.  Also, our intentions should always be to help others and serve others and not be looking for attention, glory, or things for ourselves.

Intent does make the difference. We have to ask ourselves: Am I doing this for me or for God?  Am I letting God get the glory or am I seeking my own glory?  Am I looking to honor God with my actions or attitude or am I trying to get back at someone, or stroke my own ego, or seeking revenge? We need to check our intentions in all we do to make sure all we do is for God, about God, and honors God. When we don't care who gets the credit, we're doing it for God. When we don't expect things in return we're doing it for God.

Growing as a Christian and becoming mature in our faith takes time and is a process, however we can go a long way to help ourselves by always having intentions be for God and our spiritual growth and not for ourselves or our personal agendas.    God deserves our best and we all have a part in His body to do our part for the right reasons. It's not enough to do the right thing, many may do the right thing with the wrong intentions or motives, we must not only do the right things, but we must do them with the right intent.

James 1:25(niv)
But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Freeloader

Freeloader

Proverbs 10:4
Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.
 
You know who I'm talking about? Those people who expect form others and yet do nothing for themselves.  They think everyone owes them, yet they take no initiative or responsibility for themselves.  They try and take advantage of family, friends, organizations, and yes, even churches.

If I had something about being a Pastor I dislike it's probably having to deal with people wanting a hand-out from the church.  These folks call with their rehearsed story and then act like I am obligated to help them. I am all for helping the poor and needy and the church helping those in need and glad to do it when the need is real,  but the problem is our definition of poor and needy. Some folks are poor because of their own choices, selfishness, or unwillingness to work.  They want to live off of the government or others hard work.  Some folks are needy and others  are just "wanty", meaning they just want to call around and go around and get hand-outs from churches or other places to pay their rent, utilities, buy gas for their car, give them food, and other items and they take away from those who are actually in need.

Sometimes we as Christians and churches create this type of mooching and freeloading because we think it's our job to help others and have pity and though I agree God wants us to help others, He also expect us all to help ourselves, to work, to plan, to provide, and not just look for handouts or ways to get out of work or get something for free.  God  also wants the church to help those who help themselves and those who are in need like widows or orphans or in distress,  not those who are chronically looking for a hand-out or those who can work or provide for themselves, but don't because their job is going around getting hand-outs.  We have to be careful we  as Christians/churches that we are not enabling or being a willing partner to those who want to take advantage of others or want free handouts and freeload and mooch off of the kindness and generosity of others. 

I think as Christians we have to use discernment and Godly wisdom to determine who to help and who not to help. Now, ultimately God will deal with those who purposely take advantage of others and freeload and mooch off of Him and His church or children, but we still must make an effort to help those who truly need it and not just be a willing party to someone's con to get out of work or get something for free. We are a church, we are not a grocery store, a department store, an ATM, gas station, landlord, or utility company.  We are the body of Christ and we must use God's resources wisely.  We help those with legitimate needs and those who are sincere, honest, and also not expecting it.

People are also this way with God.  Churches are full of people who come in and sit on pews in churches and give nothing to God, do not serve or volunteer in anyway, and then they expect God and the church to do everything for them, give them everything, and be at their beckon call, and this is what I call a spiritual mooch.  They give God nothing and expect everything from Him. 

Have you ever looked at it that way? Ever had a friend or relative come and stay with you and they stayed longer than they were supposed to and then they weren't appreciative or didn't offer to help or do anything? Ate all your food and didn't clean up after themselves or anything?  That is how we can be with God? We want him to take care of us without us having to lift a finger and then we can't even appreciate what He does for us. We must be careful that we don't mooch off of God, but we all do our part in the body of Christ, we serve and give, and we help ourselves.

I think this attitude in America we have of not wanting to work for what we have and expect others to take care of us is a big problem and it's not  what God wants.  I think Paul describes it best in 2 Thessalonians Chapter 3 when we warns that church about being idle/lazy. He gave an example when they came to visit they to pay for your own way if you can, to not be lazy and work and not be a burden to others and reminds us if you don't work, you don't eat.  Let us follow this example by not being a burden to God or the church and not allow others to be a burden.  We honor Christ by helping ourselves and helping others who truly have need and not just helping those who want to freeload or mooch off of others.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-10
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching[a] you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Participate

Participate

I am a firm believer in being faithful to God's church in attending services, programs, and events.  While attending doesn't save you, it certainly shows how much you value the Lord and His church. God did not establish the church for our attendance to be optional. He also didn't establish the church for our involvement to be optional either.

God created and established the church as His spiritual body on earth to be the means to which the world will come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  We "the church" was God's chosen vessel to get this message out the "gospel" "good news" so that people will know about Jesus Christ and accept them as their Lord and Savior and follow Him.  The church not only has a calling to seek and save the lost, but we also are to make disciples which means once we become Christians we should learn and grow in our faith so that we can share it with others, but also serve the Lord through His church, not just attend church services, but participate and be involved in the kingdom work.

If you are a Christian, you are a part of the body of Christ, if you are a part of the body of Christ you actually have a "part" in the body, which means you participate and be involved in the life of the body.  The body can't have living and dead parts. The body can't have active and inactive body parts. If that is the case then the body won't be healthy and won't work properly.  Can you imagine if your physical body had parts that were alive and parts that were dead? Or parts that were active and parts that were not? Some people live with physical disabilities because of disease or accident that limits them in some ways and we limit the body of Christ when we don't do our part and participate.

God did not call us to sit on the bench or sidelines, He wants us to get up and get involved.  I can remember being in school and taking gym class or PE and the only requirement to get an "A" was to dress and participate.  How easy is that?  You didn't have to be good at sports or exercise you just had to be willing to participate in order to get a grade.  That is a true "A" for effort.  That is what God wants from all of us effort and willingness to participate, but the good news is God supplies us all with certain gifts and abilities that He wants us to us in His church.

Gods desire is for all His children to desire to be in church, to attend worship services and bible studies, etc... but He also desires for His children to not just attend and warm a pew or a chair, but to actually participate.  Maybe that means serving communion, or offering a prayer. Maybe that means working in the nursery, or teaching a Sunday school class?  Maybe that means leading a ministry or serving as a deacon or an elder?  Maybe that means learning to run sound system or singing in the choir? I don't know what it means for you, but I know God doesn't expect a handful of the body parts to do all the work for the entire body, yet that is what we have in most churches, a few doing the work for all and it's time that changes.

I want to encourage you wherever you got to church, no matter your age, or how long you've been a Christian to find a way not only to be faithful to God and His church with your attendance, but also with your involvement and participation.  God didn't create you to be a by-stander or a freeloader in the church. He created you to worship, serve, give, and participate. We should participate with Christ in a variety of ways realizing being a Christian is about being like Him and being a church member is about being a part of His body.

Philippians 3:10(NIV)
 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Which way?

Which Way?

Proverbs 16:2(NIV)
All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.
 
There seems to be an epidemic in many churches today and that is are we doing things the way we've always done them because they are the way "I" like them done or are willing to do things in a way that honors God's commands of seeking and saving the lost and making disciples?
 
Too many christians and churches alike spend way too much time fighting unnecessary battles over traditions, worship music, programs, etc...when what we really need to look at is the root of the problem and that is the selfish motives behind them.  Many times people refuse to change or cling to things because "they like them" or "they want them" and not because that is what is best for the church or even God's will.
 
While singing old hymns may not be wrong and can glorify God if it's not reaching lost people or attracting the younger crowd it may mean its time to sing some new music or blend in something that relates a little better to other generations.  We forget singing is not about "our" preference but worshipping God.  God can and does accept worship of all styles of music and songs, even if we don't. If it works in your church keep it, if not change or adjust your music styles.
 
While having revivals, vacation bible schools, autumn festivals, or some other annual events may have been done in our churches for years, if people have stopped supporting them with their feet(showing up) , then it doesn't matter if we like them or always done them, it's about whether they are effective, worth the time and money, and whether they are fulfilling the purpose of even having them.   Again, God isn't interested in our traditions and events as much as he's interested in us being good stewards of our time and His money and putting on events that are helping the church grow by reaching the lost or helping members grow.  If it works keep doing it, if not end it and do something new.
 
Every church has their own set of traditions, programs, events, and things they do in their local church and while some are great and continue to be a great ministry and effective for the kingdom, others have taken their toll and run their course and it's time to find another way to be effective and another method of reaching out and making disciples.   It may be time to start new traditions or find new or different ways to help the church grow.  As culture and the world changes we have to change our methods of doing things. Changing methods of how we do things isn't changing the message of Jesus Christ. The gospel message is always the same, but we have to find different methods to share that message with different people at different times.
 
I think we all can agree that what I liked as a child was different than what my parents or grandparents liked as a child.  I think we can all agree that we all have difference preference on the types of music we like, the type of sports teams we like, and the types of clothing styles we like.   And the truth is there is no one right or wrong, it's just what we prefer or fits our personality.  However, all the sudden we come to church and we start making our preferences gospel and the only way. Jesus is the only way, but there are many ways to reach the lost for Jesus and many ways for people to worship and serve Jesus.
 
I think the root of the problem is this,  Is it about your way or God's Way?  Do you fight, challenge, resist, push, or gripe if something is not the way you want it or like it not because your worried about offending God but because your worried about your own feelings, desires, wants, or preferences.  I think we are selfish when we try to hold our churches hostage with being "set in our ways" or always resisting any new or different changes.
 
We have to ask ourselves a very tough question, are we being selfish? Are we trying to get our way or are we trying to follow God's Way  Now, before we're quick to say our way is God's way, which many claim, think about it, if our way isn't working, making a difference, fulfilling the great commission, helping the church grow, reaching lost people or younger generations, then maybe we are being a little selfish or narrow-sighted.  I think this is an issue of the heart, because our heart should be like Jesus and Jesus wasn't selfish, narrow-minded, or one-sided. 
 
Jesus cared about people and gave us a model of being a servant, being unselfish, and sacrificing.. Do you think maybe we could make some sacrifices of our personal preferences for the greater good of the church?  I am a Pastor of a church and even as a Pastor, I do not get my way in all things(nor do I want my way in all things), we don't sing all the songs or styles of music I'd prefer, and we don't do some things I'd like to do and we do some things I'd like to do different, but it's not about me.   The church is God's not Jason's.  The church is the body of Christ and it's about building up Christ not me.  It's about doing things for God's will not my own, so naturally there are things that are better for God or better for the church overall that I may not prefer or would do different, but I sometimes have to set aside my wants, wishes, desires, and ego for the greater good of the kingdom.  Are you willing to do that?
After all, if the church never changes or does things different what happens? The church eventually dwindles and dies, they lose leaders, servants,  young people and families, and what is left is a bunch of elderly folks who eventually die off and the church closes. Even many churches may still have their door open today, but in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years? Many of them will be gone because they allowed a few people to dictate selfish ways and preferences and stopped being about the business of the kingdom and  refuse to change some things and now the church is dying a slow death.  Why? because people care more about their way than God's.
 
I want to challenge you no matter where you go to church, to be a positive part of that church.  Be open to the Spirit's leading, be open to change, be open to ideas and things that are bigger than you or you preferences.  Realize the church is bigger than you and the church must be about reaching the lost and making disciples or the church is nothing more than a religious social club of tradition. I want to encourage you to do your part to be a positive part of the kingdom in your local church. Help. Be supportive of the pastor and leadership.  Serve. Give. Lead. Come up with new ideas, methods, and ways of doing things to do things God's Way for God's will.   I'm not saying all old things or traditions are bad, if they are still working and effective keep doing them, but evaluate all you do on a regular basis and if what you are doing is not longer effective or working or productive than be willing to put your feelings aside and do what is best for the kingdom.
 
Sometimes we have to sacrifice our egos, our personal preferences, and feelings in order to do greater good and to see God's church grow, isn't that what its about to begin with? God's glory not our wants? God's will not ours? God's commission not our comfort zone.  So, always ask yourself this question is this about my way or is this God's way? Don't hold the church back. Don't run people off. Don't be selfish or self-focused.  Always keep in mind the church and Christianity is about Jesus not us, His way not ours.  Let's be about the Father's business and all we do be about His Kingdom.
 
Philippians 2:3a(NIV)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
 
 
 
 

Friday, December 05, 2014

Excuse my Excuses

Excuse My Excuses


"The person who really wants to do something finds a way; the other person finds an excuse." -author unknown

We all can be guilty of making excuses, but a couple areas where we make excuses sometimes that are unhealthy is with our behavior and habits. We excuse our poor behavior and continue it without making any attempts to improve it. We also can be guilty of making excuses for others like family, friends, co-workers behavior and habits and the result of that is us enabling or allowing their continued bad habits/behavior. 

What I'm talking about is this, look at these examples:  "Oh that's just Mary she's always late, we're use to it", or "that's just how Jim is He's always moody", or "oh there goes Sally again she's always losing her temper and going off on people", or "that's Rick he's  always undependable and not doing what he said he would do", you see how we make excuses for peoples poor behavior/habits/attitudes and we allow them to continue or better yet, what about when we do it ourselves "I'm just having a bad day", "I didn't have enough coffee", "didn't get enough sleep", "you make me lose my temper", "you're the reason I'm always late".

Excuses. We have them. We make them. We offer them.  We use excuses to excuse our behavior and the behavior of others and the end result is nothing changes and some continue to get worse or out of control.  If you're a Christ follower, then there are no excuses for sinful or bad behavior, bad habits, poor character traits, or not accepting responsibility for our actions/attitudes.  I also think based on my study of scripture that God doesn't want us to enable, condone, or allow others to act this way or defend them, but instead correct them, rebuke them, hold them accountable, and expect the same in return.

There is an infinite amount of excuses we can make for why we are lazy,  bossy, always late,  grouchy, mean, undependable, sin, and why we do or say anything under the sun.  But, how are you honoring God, your relationships, your integrity or character, your employer, your church, your friends, or your own self respect by making excuses for your mistakes, poor decisions, bad judgments, bad habits, lack of discipline, poor choices, etc...? You're not.  God is honored when we are honest, sincere, make an effort, accept responsibility, do our best, are willing and able, and work to be the best person we can be for His glory.

I got a list a mile long of my bad habits, bad attitudes, and character flaws and quirks, I imagine we all do, but please don't make excuses for me or allow me to make excuses for myself. I also will not allow you or others to make excuses for yourself and I will strive to not excuse others actions/attitudes.  God designed Christians(the church body) to support each other, encourage one another, lift each other up, hold one another accountable, and  work together.  We can't do that if we are not giving God or others our best.

We need to be self-aware and have self-respect and respect for others. We should all  work at having respect for others time, feelings, personal space, property, our relationship, boundaries, or whatever we lacking.  We need to stop making excuses for ourselves and be the best that God created us to be. We also need to stop making excuses for others and allowing them to continue hurting themselves or others or continue with bad behavior, habits, or qualities that may be effective us or others.

Stop being late, stop taking our your anger on other people, stop being bossy, stop being unreliable, stop taking shortcuts, stop being a jerk, stop waiting til the last minute, or stop whatever it is you are doing that is a bad habit, bad attitude, or bad behavior and stop making excuses and start making a plan to overcome bad with good.  Stop making excuses for yourself and others. Join me at working on no more excuses for myself or others and lets make the world a better place  by being more like Christ.

Romans 1:20(niv)
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Watered Down Christian


Watered Down Christian


2 Timothy 4:3(NIV)
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

I think we may live in a time like this now.  It seems to me that in recent years and maybe it has to do with all the media and technology we have at our fingertips(smart phones, tablets, laptops, TV's, etc)  today, that many in our world are living their own version of Christianity, meaning they do what they want, live how they want, and support what they want, and then try to label it as God approved. "God loves everyone", "God wants everyone to be happy", "God would be ok with what I'm doing or how i'm living", well last time I read by Bible that's not how God operates.

First, yes God does love everyone, He created each of us after all, but "LOVE" does not mean enabling, approving, or looking the other way while a person sins and goes against God's Will or Word.  God is love, but love always means correction, discipline, holiness, purity, righteousness, and obedience. God's love is not a license to sin or live whoever we want or do whatever we want or believe whatever we want and then namedrop God on it like He approves of it cause God loves everyone.  God does love us all, but His love will not hurt others, have negative consequences, approve of sin, or go against His Holy Word. Truth is many don't read their Bibles, yet try to use it to defend themselves? Kind of hard to do when you don't even read it or study it.

Secondly, this delusion that God wants everyone happy is as false as it gets. God wants us to have JOY and joy is only found in a faithful obedient relationship with Him. God did not create us and send Jesus to die for our sins so we can be "happy" on earth.  What we really are trying to say is I want to have no rules, live how I want, do what I want, because I think that is what makes me happy and I want to feel good about myself so I want to say God wants me happy to justify it.   If you truly want to be happy, then stop trying to make God follow you and start following God.  You are either for God or against Him, there is no in between.  Happiness is a temporary feeling/emotion and comes and goes and isn't meant to rule or guide our life.  Why I believe God didn't create us to be miserable and unhappy, He also didn't create us and send Jesus for us to live however we want with no set of morals, values, boundaries, and most of all guidance from His Holy Spirit or Word.

Finally, this false idea that God is ok with how you are living and what you are doing and what you are approving of, is another lie from the devil. It's call justification.  If we were honest with ourselves, we'd realize we want to do what we want and act how we want and live how we want, but at the same time we want the benefits of salvation and not going to hell.   We really are trying to mold and shape God around our lives instead of molding and shaping our lives around God.    We have too many opinions based on our own ideas of influences out there from friends, books, professors, media, or wherever you get your opinions from. I feel like many of us have our minds made up what we want to believe and we seek to find sources who agree with us or support what we believe or want to believe, to again back up an justify our beliefs, behaviors, lifestyles, etc..

Sadly, there are even churches and preachers who share this mentality and have watered down the gospel and the Bible to grow churches, make people ok with their sins, and continue the cycle of not following the Bible, being obedient to God's will, or guidance from the Holy Spirit.   So, what we have is a bunch of watered down Christians, who really are only part-time Christians, or putting on a form of Christianity that suits them or really not Christians at all, but living a lie to themselves.

We have got it all wrong. While God is a God of love, He is also a God of right, holy, and truth. That does not mean he's old fashioned or rigid, it means He has a standard and we need to follow His standard of right, holy, and truth found in His Word not our own. That isn't love, love is truth, obedience, respect, honesty, purity, and faithfulness to God, His Word.   Joy not happiness is what should guide us.  Happiness is mostly worldly and seeks to only please ourselves, our wants, our wishes, and live how we want and has little to do with God. God provides joy to those who truly surrender to Him, wish to obey Him, worship Him, and follow His Word even if there are some tough spots in it we struggle with. It doesn't matter what we think or want if it goes against God's Word its wrong plain and simply no matter how you try to twist it. In the end you will never be happy or find happiness or live at peace when you try to live against God and His Word.

Finally, if you want God to be "OK" with your life and how you are living, it's not complicated, but difficult to do, we must truly surrender ourselves to God to follow His Will. We must allow God to work in our lives through His Word and Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts, attitudes, convictions, values, morals, behaviors, and lifestyles. We must actually read and study God's Word and instead of trying to read it to justify our beliefs, behaviors, or lifestyles how about reading it and simply following or doing what it says and don't add to it or take away from it or twist it to fit your life, but instead let God fit you into His life.  We must be open to God's leading by being sincere and honest before Him. If we are, God will speak to us, convict us, show us, and lead us through His Word and through His Holy Spirit if we are truly saved.

Stop trying to be a "Christian" and yet live however you want, doing whatever you want, and sharing that watered down message in the world, and start actually being a Christian. The Word Christian means "Christ-follower" and too many people are wearing the name, but not following Christ, but their own selfish lifestyles, agendas, opinions, and desires.   Being a Christian is hard work, it takes discipline, time, effort, and a willing spirit to grow. You can to be faithful to read the Bible to know what it says and what God expects, you have to be faithful to His Church(the ones actually preaching the truth of the Bible), and you have to be willing to let the Holy Spirit guide you to truth and righteousness.

After all, we are talking about eternity here. Heaven and hell.  I would not be willing to gamble or risk my eternity for temporary, worldly, selfish pleasures or happiness here.  I know many of us have tried including me and I learned as I hope you have or will, you can't have the best of both worlds. You can't have 2 masters, and you can't please both God and yourself.    Don't water down God's Word, or your faith. Live for God.   Find Joy in the Lord.  Find peace in the truth of God's Word.  God loves you, but His love will correct us when needed. God is also "OK" with us when we are allowing Him to lead us and not just trying to take advantage of His grace.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Judging Others

Judging Others

There is a HUGE difference between "passing judgment" on someone and "making a judgment". We seem to live in a world where we say "only god can judge me" well that is true when it comes to your salvation and eternity choice, it's not a free pass to live however you want and justify your life choices.  There are places where it is appropriate to judge and be judged.

Passing judgment is something people do that is not fair, accurate, or is biased. Passing judgment is saying that person has tattoos they must be in a gang, or that person dresses bad they must be on welfare and won't work, I saw that person out late they must be cheating on their spouse, and things like that, passing judgment is making decisions based on opinions and not truth, reality, or fact.  This is what Jesus was talking about when he said "do not judge, or you too will be judged" Matthew 7:1 he goes on to say in verses 2-4 "for in the same way you judge others you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brothers eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"  You see Jesus was talking about passing judgment on others behaviors or things yet ignoring things in our life that may be much worse or bigger, that is placing judgment.

However, making a judgment is much different.  Jesus corrected the jewish people in John 7 for passing judgment on him for healing someone on their "holy" day, he told theme in John 7:24 "stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment".  He didnt' say not to judge, but stop passing judgment, instead make a right judgment.  Makin a judgment is different, that is when I have facts and truth at my disposal. If I see you cheating on a test and confront you, that is a right judgment you are a cheater.  If I see you being rude and cussing someone and call you out on it, I am making a right judgment on that.  If I see you misusing God's Word or speaking on things not backed up by scripture and bring it to your attention I am making a righteous judgment, not passing judgment, do you see the difference? Of course even in making a right judgment it still needs to be delivered and communicated in love and respect, not arrogantly.

There is also a distinct difference between those who are Christians and part of the Christians church and those who are not Christians and church members. If we are members and a part of the church we have a right to correctly make judgments about people in our own body who are purposely sinning.  In I Corinthians chapter 5 the Corinthian church had a man in the church who was what we'd call "living in sin" he was being sexually immoral by having a sexual relationship with a woman he wasn't married to but also happen to be his step-mother.  The Corinthian church was ignoring this behavior, as they probably had many of our attitudes, "It's not our place to judge", however Paul who wrote this letter to them rebuked them for ignoring this blatant sinful behavior and told them they must kick him out of church and not have anything to do with him.   He goes on if you read (I Cor. 5:12) to talk about what happens when we ignore sin in the church with our members, to deal with sin, and to avoid those who willfully and purposely sin with no remorse. I have been in churches where people were living in sin and supposed to be members and leadership ignored it, as to not "offend" anyone or hoping it would go away. Not the way God wants us to handle sin. If we had that attitude about all sin, then we'd not deal with or correct anything because "we don't want to judge", and it's a cop out. 

You may think that is mean or harsh, but the point of confronting sin or error and even not having anything to do with that person is that will motivate them to repent and get right with God again or get the infection/cancer out of your church body. So many times we think being a Christian is being nice, looking the other way, and not dealing with sin in our churches by supposed Christians, but that's not truth. Church leaders are to confront and deal with sin in the body of Christ.  But, Paul also closes with a clear statement in verses 12 What business is it of mine to judge them outside of the church? ?Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. "Expel" the wicked man from among you.

The local church has an obligation to make judgments on members, not passing judgment on opinions but making judgments based on truth. Truth is, sometimes even though people are Christians and go to church they purposely choose to ignore sinful lifestyles and habits in their lives knowing it's wrong, but not caring.  We also, need to realize it's not our job as the church to police the outside world, but God will deal with those outside the church who are sinning, not our place, but we should deal with sin in our churches, and if church leaders aren't willing to deal with sin, they should not be leading and should be dealt with as well.

My point today is simple, though God is our ultimate judge and He is only one who can determine who is saved and will be saved and those who will be in Heaven, there is still a place where sometimes as Christians we do have to judge people and situations.  Not on our feelings, emotions, preferences, upbringings, etc...but make judgments based on truth of God's Word.  We also much learn not to "pass" judgment on people where we are basing it on our own twisted truth or opinions because we don't like the way someone looks, or acts, or doesn't line up with our narrow mind. 

I think if we all would read and study God's Word more, we'd learn to see the differences between passing judgment and making righteous judgment.  If I am sinning, then my Christian brothers/sisters have a right to call me out on my sin, they do not have a right to pass judgment on me because they don't like my outfit, or my hairstyle, or my tattoos, or something I saw that is true from God's Word that they disagree with.  I also have an obligation and responsibility as a Christian to hold other Christians accountable for their sin.  As a church leader and pastor I have a responsibility to deal with sin in my church body.

I hope this blog opens some eyes today and encourages and blesses you to stop passing judgment on people and places that's not your place or accurate, but also will allow us to make right judgments in areas where we must judge correctly and properly within the church based on God's Holy Word.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Be Honest with Yourself

Be Honest With Yourself
Sometimes I think the person we lie to the most is ourselves.  At times we can be very self unaware and self absorbed people and we don't or won't acknowledge our problems, our faults, or put any blame on ourselves, or accept any responsibility for our actions.  This is no way to live because it doesn't end well.

I have been guilty of living with this attitude and I think most of us have on some level or in some fashion, but the only way we are going to change, grow, or be forgiven is to start the honesty with ourselves.

Too many people have constant drama in their lives, broken relationships, always make people mad, or stay angry and bitter because they can't see that maybe their attitude or actions are the problem not other people.  Some people go through their whole lives blaming others for their problems, yet if they were hones with themselves they'd see where maybe the blame is looking at them in the mirror, yet they choose to live self unaware so they don't have to "fix" or "work" or "deal" with themselves.

Others are so absorbed with their own selfish desires, making it all about them and what they want and what they think is best, or only caring about how they feel or what they want, it leaves little time or room for anyone else.  Selfish people like this never do no wrong it's always someone else. As long as they get what they want, can be in control, or are right and people agree with them they are fine, but watch out if they don't get their way or it's not about them.

The truth is if we lie to ourselves about our behavior, lifestyles, actions, or attitudes we are never going to change, grow, mature or get better.  If we aren't willing to put in the work and be honest about our struggles and problems we will see little change or growth but a continued cycle of negativity, blame, anger, etc...Also, no one can help you and especially God will not help you as long as you continue to live in this fantasy world of your right and everyone else is wrong, you are smarter than everyone else, or everyone is out to get you, or you're a victim mentality. 

God only helps those who help themselves and God won't work with lies.  We have to be honest with ourselves even before we can be honest with God.  God already knows our thoughts, motives, and hearts, but part of our growth is admitting to ourselves we have a problem, we are to blame, we have the bad attitude, or we are the one who messed up. We must humble ourselves before God an totally surrender our self-denial, self-unaware, selfish, arrogant, blatant, self-inflicting behavior to Him.

If we could only evaluate ourselves with honesty we could change our lives and probably those around us if you haven't done run off everyone that is close to you or tried to help you.  I don't care if it's addictions, mental problems, abuse, disagreements, or any type of problem, sin, struggle, etc...God will help us when we own up to being part(most or all) of the problem.   I also think if there is anyone left who can stand us and we've not burnt bridges would be willing to help us if they finally see us being honest with ourselves, God, and others. 

Remember, nothing changes when nothing changes. If you don't like your life, if you're miserable, can't seem to get along with anyone, always in the middle of drama, struggles, or problems, I guarantee the source of that is someone who is in denial or lying to themselves about their participation in whatever it is going on.

Be honest with yourself. Stop the lies.  Stop blaming others.  Stop making excuses for your behavior.  Stop being selfish. Stop being self-destructive.  Stop using people.  Stop hurting people.  Stop being so blind.  Stop the denial.  Stop lying to yourself. Be honest with yourself.   Next be honest with God. Finally, get help if you need it from a Doctor, therapist, or whoever it takes if your issues are that serious.   God works with honesty. It could change your attitude, your relationships, and most of all your life.


Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks what is right.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Happy Happy Joy Joy

We live in a world that sells the selfish illusion that life is about "being happy". Do what makes you happy, live however makes you happy, etc... All we do is sell a lie that I can do what I want, say what I want, act how I want, and live how I want as long as I'm happy and it doesn't matter who I hurt, who I take advantage of, who I wrong, or who I offend as long as "I'm Happy!".

The problem with happiness is it is an emotion/feeling and the problem with emotions/feelings is that they come and go, are based on our circumstances, and they aren't always accurate. They also can be very selfish, self-centered, and justify behavior, attitudes, actions, and lifestyle choices which lead to bigger problems.

You see, when you live only for "YOUR" happiness then you life is good as long as you get your way, get what you want, things go the way you plan them, and you are in control. However, that is a miserable way to live because you will spend more of your time unhappy than you will happy because you will create constant negativity, drama, turmoil, bitterness, anger, and a rollercoaster of emotions because you are living in a fantasy world and your world will be turned upside down every time you are NOT HAPPY! 

You will blame others, make others miserable, and push people away when you are unhappy, and in your pursuit of being happy you will do the same thing because you think your life is about you being happy all the time, not considering the consequences, condition, and outcomes of living with this type of mentality.

God is our creator and He created us specifically to have a relationship with Him.  He also created us to have a relationship with Him based on His structure, boundaries, and guidelines not ours.   While God did not create us to be unhappy, He did create us with an understanding that we will be happy sometimes, but sometimes we won't.  Because life the way God meant it wasn't meant for our happiness, but for His pleasure.

God understands that happiness is temporary and is based on circumstances that come and go with our feelings/emotions, so it's unrealistic to think we'll be happy all the time.  Secondly, His desire is for us to live in a relationship with Him, which causes us to be unselfish and think of others first, and more importantly striving to live for God first in our lives. That doesn't mean we neglect ourselves or we live unhappy lives, it simply means our lives aren't ruled or dictated by the selfishness of seeking only our happiness.

Truly God created us to have Joy not happiness.  While God I am sure wants us to have plenty of happy moments, He wants us to truly have Joy. Joy is an attitude and a lifestyle choice and not an emotion/feeling.  We can still have Joy even when we aren't happy.  But it all depends on what/who we are living for?

Our world today is filled with people who only care about being happy, it doesn't matter if it goes against what the Bible teaches, it doesn't care if it hurts anyone, or has long-term side effects for others, and most of all the don't really care what God thinks, or even worse they still try to hold some sort of religious or spiritual stance trying to say God wants us to be happy and if living this way or doing this makes me happy God is ok with it, and the truth is you or I or know one has the authority to speak on God's behalf. God is not divided, and God doesn't change, and if we want to know what God feels on a subject we go to His Word and we can twist it, try to manipulate it, and change it to fit our sin or selfish behavior, but at the end of the day, that is no way to live because it won't last.

My encouragement for you is to stop trying to "Be Happy" and start trying to live a life of Joy. 
Stop pursuing things that you think make you "happy" and start seeking God to help you discover things He has for you that will give you "Joy".  Instead of trying to make everything about you and your way and your control so you can be happy all the time, realize what I've been saying is true about happiness and instead surrender your will to God and make it about Him and His Way and giving Him control of your life so you can experience true Joy.

Those who only live life in this world for their own happiness will never find true peace, purpose, contentment, and meaning, but those who give up on selfish and worldly happiness and seek JOY instead will realize that Joy is eternal and will give their lives meaning, value, purpose, contentment, and peace that will only be found in a true relationship with God living by His standards, His spirit, His Word, and His truth.

So instead of don't worry be happy, don't worry and find Joy.  Stop living for the illusion of happiness and start seeking a Joy that comes from God and not you.

Romans 15:13 (NIV)
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

It's Been Awhile

It's Been Awhile


It has been 5 months since I last posted a devotional/blog that I used to try and put out once a week. We had a lot going on in our life at the time so I needed to focus on other things, but now I am ready to get back on track and get back to my writing.

I started writing devotionals over 15 years ago, partly as part of my devotional time and it started out as a devotion to send my students when I was a youth minister, but it grew into a weekly devotional for everyone and eventually a "blog", but basically it's just a devotional that I write about what's on my heart or mind, what I've learned, or some other random topic I feel God has laid on my heart.

Believe it or not, some people have actually missed these blogs, I've been asked when I was going to start writing them again or why I stopped sending them, so never fear for the 3 people that care I'm back haha.

Seriously, though I have missed writing. Writing has always been a way for me to process my thoughts on things, especially when it comes to my faith, or God's Word, or His will, etc...I also think if I can write or say something that challenges, encourages, or makes one person think then it's done it's job.

Sometimes we need to take a break or step away from things and take care of more important things going on in our lives and so that's what I've done, it was a challenging 5 months.  We had plans to move to Arkansas to take a ministry, but God had other plans. We endured some unknown and hardships, but God was faithful and now I've just recently began a new ministry at Westwood Christian Church in Ashland, Kentucky.

 So please know when you go through a trial, a dark time, a hard time, or a time of uncertainty to not lose heart, lose faith, or a grip on the hand of God.  God will get you through whatever you are facing if you remain faithful to Him and trust in His timing and will. It might feel miserable, you might get impatient, scared, or upset, but remain faithful and wait on the Lord and I promise you, you will be better on the other side of whatever you are facing if you seek the Lord.

I hope now through my experiences and time away my thoughts and writing are refreshed, refocused, and renewed so that I can continue to use this devotional/blog as part of my personal devotional time, but also use it to bless or help someone else in some way.   

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Good and the Bad

The Good & The Bad


 Ecclesiastes 7:14(NIV)
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.
 
When I was a kid, the show Facts of Life came on TV and the theme song says "you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have, the facts of life..." and the words of that song are true, it is a fact of life that you are going to have good days and bad days, good things and bad things happen to you, and you are going to deal with good people and bad people.

Even as a Pastor and a long-time Christian(though I've certain failed at it many times), I still sometimes struggle with the concept of what seems to be "good things happening to bad people and bad things happening to good people."  I'm admitting my weakness in this area and being honest about my struggle. While I know I am certainly a sinner and I mess up, struggle, and sin every day I also feel I try to be good, but the only one who is GOOD is GOD! We are only saved and good through Jesus Christ!

However, my human weak flesh still gets frustrated when I seem to be getting attacked by bad things or see other good people having bad things happen to them and then I see good things happening to bad people or seems that bad people are getting away with bad things and good people are the ones who are suffering.

The key word God reminded me of is "seems", you see, things aren't always as they seem, because we are looking through the eyes of pain, lack of perspective, or not seeing the bigger picture and plan that only God can see.  I think what I've been lacking and what others are lacking is truth Faith.  True faith is trusting enough in God that even though it seems bad or it seems someone is getting away with something, or bad things are happening to you and it seems good things are happening to those who are bad that He will protect us, empower us, and answer our prayers and something even better will come of it.

Secondly, we also have to trust God through faith that He will deal with the bad people or things going on, that's His job not ours.  We need to be reminded of scripture that God is the one who deals with vengeance and our job is to allow and trust Him to do it on our behalf.

Thirdly,  I think satan and evil attack our lives when God is trying to use us or satan feels threatened because we are growing in our faith or God is using us or preparing us for something great, and satan is a sore loser and master of lies and hate and wants us to lose faith and trust and hope in God. We must stand our ground, not giving satan a foothold, but also remaining faithful to God and trusting in His will, His timing, and His plan.

Fourthly, we need to focus on God and His love and protection and not our problems, struggles, events, or situations, and that is very very difficult to do. It's hard to not notice the storm you are in when they is wind, lightening, thunder, waves, and dark skies all around, but we have to look past all that to the one who can and will rescue us and even better grow our faith and make us stronger.

I have not arrived, I have been through many storms and things recently and it has really caused me to question my faith and question God with my doubts and fears, but I have to remain faithful to prayer, faithful to His Holy Spirit at work in me, faithful to the promises of His Word, and faithful to Him and trust Him to get me through whatever is going on in my life and I pray you and me can all work toward being that faithful in the good or in the bad. It's easy to praise God or be faithful when times and things are good, but if things were always good, we'd soon forget to thank and praise God, and also it is in the times are darkness, doubt, fear, anxiety, and pain that we truly learn what we're made of faith wise, and we grow, learn, and become stronger, wiser, and better in our faith and trust in God if we allow ourselves. 

 
Job 36:15 (NIV_
But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.


Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Seek Truth

Seek Truth

Jesus gave some pretty challenging words in defense of Himself in John chapter 7:
John 7:18( NIV)
Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.
 
While Jesus was trying to defend himself as being the Messiah and son and His teachings coming from God, He makes a valid point for all of us who claim Christianity, do you seek your OWN glory or the GLORY for GOD?  The difference is if it's for your own ego, insecurity, or pride then it's false and if it's for the glory of God, then your desire is Truth!
 
We live in a world today where many want to water-down truth, only want truth that is convenient for them or fits in their life, or the way they were raised, or brought up, or brainwashed or whatever. Truth is, it doesn't matter what you or I think, the way we were raised, or what church group we were brought up in, at least it shouldn't.  The truth is Jesus Christ.  The truth is the WORD of God, the Bible and Jesus is the Word and the Truth.
 
Our basis for living in a faithful Christian relationship with Jesus should be to seek truth, follow it, live it, and share it. Not our own agenda, not our version of truth, and not to tell people what they want to hear.  Truth needs no defense.  God's Word doesn't need defending.  You either accept it as the inspired Word of God and truth or you reject it and we reject it when we try to pick and choose what parts to live and practice or what parts to ignore or twist.
 
Too many people try to take God's Word out of context and fit it into their already predetermined beliefs, denominations, or teachings instead of reading God's Word objectively, led by guidance of the Holy Spirit, and being willing to learn and be uncomfortable at times.  The only way God can teach us the truth of His Word, is if we are teachable, willing, and open to His leading.  It is hard to learn, grow, or mature in the Truth of God's Word when we have already established our own agendas, belief systems, sacred cows,  doctrines, or influences from denominations, authors, or other people.
 
Too many so called Christians including preachers spend way too much time wanting to debate, argue, ridicule, slander, slam, and belittle others because of  so called false teachings, doctrinal errors, certain types of beliefs or practices, what version of the bible they use, what type of church they go to, what kind of music they worship with, how they dress for church, their views on eternal security, baptism, speaking in tongues, end of times, etc....pick your hot topic.
 
I am not at all saying we as Christian shouldn't take a stand against certain teachings or doctrines, however, what I am saying is sometimes we can be "right" on a topic or subject, but "wrong" in attitude or how we treat others, and I know this is hard to accept for some who are arrogant or think highly of themselves and their stances, but you my friend have not cornered the market on salvation, do not have all the answers, and were not hand-picked by God to be His police to the world.
 
We are called by scripture to study to show ourselves approved and correctly handle the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15), Jesus also told the us if we followed His teachings we'd be his disciples and the truth would set us free(John 8:32).  (1 Timothy 4:16) Paul warns Timothy to watch his life and doctrine closely and in doing so would save himself and those who heard Him.  Scripture also warns us about false teachings and teachers, and so we must guard ourselves against them, but our whole existence shouldn't be about proving others wrong or proving ourselves right, it should always be about sharing Jesus and the truth of His Word in Love. 
 
I know many times in my life I've met people who thought they were doing me a favor and God a favor by trying to rebuke or correct me, and I'm all for being taught and correcting, but when the one doing it is arrogant, mean, ugly, prideful, and misusing or misinterpreting God's Word to promote their church group, their denominational agenda, or personal ego then they do more harm than good.
 
I wonder how many people are kept away from God and His Salvation, not by false teaching, but by narrow-minded, legalistic, and arrogant people claiming to be Christians and representing God????  What I am trying to promote today is the each of us individually must read, study, and seek the truth of God's Word. We must rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance and use discernment and wisdom in what church we attend, what teachers, preachers, and authors we are willing to follow, and above all our responsibility is to please God, honor God, Worship God, Glorify God, and do it in spirit and in truth.
 
I encourage you to always seek Truth.  Seek God's Truth in His word.  That is our one and only source for His Truth.  Not mine. Not man's.  God's. 
 
 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bo may know, but you don't

Bo may know, but you don't


We may think we know things, or hear things, or whatever in our daily lives, but the truth is we don't know what's going on in the lives of others.  Whether at your school, workplace, or church there are people all around you who may put on a face, or smile, or pretend everything is ok in their lives publicly, but privately they are hurting, in pain, struggling, or dealing with some very difficult things.

I am fully aware each week I stand up in the pulpit to preach that those faces I'm looking out on may indeed having something going on in their lives that I or others have no idea.  People are in abusive relationships, having marital troubles, dealing with an addiction, mental illness, health problems, family problems, financial crisis, or 1,000 other issues or problems and we'd never know it.

We are quick to judge, gossip, slander, and look down on people with no shortage of opinion, but the truth is we don't really know what is going on in their lives, what it's like to walk in their shoes, or  live in the situation they are being dealt.  I'll be honest there are things going on in my life and have happened in my life that I don't share public or post on Social Media an some things shouldn't be public anyway.  We don't need to hear or see or know everyone drama, personal problems, or dirty laundry.  However, at the same time, we also need to learn to reserve our opinions or judgments to ourselves, especially if we aren't involved, it's not our business, or we've not been asked by the person to be involved.

I really want to share two things today.  First, If you are struggling or having problems, know you don't have to carry that burden alone.  Turn to God, He is always with you and will always be there for you if you are a faithful follower.  If your issues is serious such as abuse or addiction, then you need to seek professional help, counseling, or the law asap.  If it's other matters, you can turn to trusted family members or friends to help you, support you, and hopefully pray for you.

Secondly, If you suspect someone is dealing with something or going through something, I want to encourage all of us to pray for  these folks.  Be sensitive to their needs, and offer to help, pray, encourage them, or simply let them know you are there if you need anything.  Also, consider everyone you come in contact with may be dealing with some sort of problem, anxiety, situation, struggle, trial, etc...and instead of being quick to judge or condemn, criticize or gossip, or give opinions how about just keeping that to yourself and give it time and maybe you'll see it different or maybe you'll realize its not your business anyway and move on and make better use of your time.

We have to realize we don't everything and we never will.  We have to understand that people we see, know, and meet everyday may be fighting a battle we'll never understand.  It may not be our place to understand or know, but it can always be our place to pray.  I know we wouldn't want people to judge or criticize us unfairly, so we should return the favor.

I Thessalonians 4:11(NIV)
11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,

Friday, April 04, 2014

Surrender

Surrender

Doesn't sound like a very good thing does it?  Surrender means I've given up, in battle it means giving yourself over to the enemy.  We might have pictures of waving the white flag, or wrestling with someone who's gotten us in a submission hold and we have to tap out and surrender.

However, surrender isn't a bad thing, it's a very good thing when it comes to God.  God's desire is for all who call on His name to be Saved, to totally "surrender" themselves to Him. What does that mean exactly? It means I am giving up my way to follow God's way. I am giving up my will to follow the will of God.  I am giving up my imperfect human way of thinking and acting and allowing God to help me with my thoughts and actions(the Holy Spirit). 

You see surrender to God, is actually a victory not a defeat.  In the worlds view surrender may mean defeat, but in the faith community it's a sign of victory.  You see the victory over death, sin, and hell have already been won through Jesus Christ. The Victory is His and in return if we are willing to surrender ourselves over to God and give up control to Him, not only will you win the spiritual victory of forgiveness of sin, eternal life, and Heaven, but you also have opportunity to have victory over sinful habits, bad habits, poor choices, bad decisions, and unhealthy lifestyle choices.  God gives us victory in the life to come, but can also give us victory in this earthly temporary life we live, but we have to be willing to surrender to Him.

Let's face it, if we were brutally honest with ourselves if people could do things on their own strength or power they would, but they can't.  Those bad habits, secret sins, addictions, tempers, selfish behaviors maybe you've been battling your whole life or for years, the reason why you can't seem to kick them or overcome them???  Because you can't do it alone.  If you want victory over these things, they you have to "surrender" or give up those battles, because they belong to God. You have to willingly surrender them to God and ask him to Help you overcome them.

It doesn't matter, what the situation, problem, trial, issue, or battle God is bigger than them all. He has the answer, healing, comfort, protection, and victory waiting for you, but you and I have to be willing to stop trying to do it all on our own and surrender to God.

We can't save ourselves, we need Jesus.  We can't grow in our faith alone we need the Holy Spirit and God's Word to help us. We can do anything on our own power, strength, wisdom, or ego, we have to give it up to God.  You want to know true peace, love, and acceptance? Surrender your life to God and let Him save you.  You want to know true victory over life's battles and struggles? Surrender them to God. All of them. See the difference.   God will only do what you freely allow Him to do.
Will you learn to surrender to Him today?

1 John 5:3-5 (ESV)

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Perception

Perception

How do you see yourself? How do you see others?  Sometimes we are self unaware and see ourselves as right when we are wrong or better than we really are at something, and sometimes we go the other extreme and lack self-confidence and think we stink at something or worse than we really are. We also sometimes make the same mistake with others.  We expect more out of them than we should, think more highly of them than we should, or we think lower of them than we should, or we have no confidence in them and we should.

It's a crazy cycle, but I think the problem is our perception.  For man, perception is reality. What we perceive to be true in our minds is true whether it really is or not.  Hence gossip, false witness, hurt feelings, misconceptions, disappoints, and other feelings and emotions because we allowed our perception of a person or situation or ourselves to become reality and truth.

How can we have an accurate perception?  How can we know what is true and not true? How can we be humble without being prideful or arrogant?  How can we form opinions of others that are fair and on point?  I think it begins in our minds.

"As a man thinks so He is" quote says and I think that to be true.  When we have life experiences that have clouded our judgments, caused us to have low-self esteem, insecurities, or unhealthy attraction to fantasy, or just plain full or ourselves, it's tough to be logical, accurate, and realistic of self or others.

We have to change our thinking. If we've got issues in the past such as daddy issues, mommy issues, abusive ex, or abusive childhood, we need to deal with it and not allow it to change our perceptions. Not all people are cheaters, abusive, mean, or demeaning.  It's not fair to put blanket statements on people, but when we get hurt or are inured especially mentally or emotionally it can alter our perceptions.  It can lead us to have trust issues, jealousy, insecurities, etc...so we have to be careful to not dwell on the past or negative thinking. We have to change our minds.

I also think we have to a "ruler" or a measuring stick to know what the truth is, and I think that is God and/or His Word. 

Romans 12:3 says....
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

I think God and HIs Spirit within us(those of us who are saved) and His Word help us be realistic, honest,  and have accurate thinking.  The keys are in this verse. 1. Don't think too highly of yourself. 2. Use sober(clear) judgment in accordance to the faith God has given you.  I think we need to look at everything through this lens of truth.  Remove our ego/self and look at it through a clear objective view through God's help.

It is also true that "hurt people, hurt people" meaning when people are hurt and damaged they tend to push that on others and that pushes people away, isolates you, and gives you really bad perception of things.  We have to be careful that we don't allow the things that have hurt us to go un-dealt with because it truly will effect our lives and relationships and change our perceptions of reality, people, and events.  We all get hurt in different ways, but we must deal with the pain so that we don't hurt others simply because we are hurt.

Perception defined is:
the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.

But the issue is our ability. It's up to us to see, hear, or become of aware of things we feel accurately, truthfully, and realistically and not because out thinking is wrong/broke, or because we aren't being guided by God but bad feelings or emotions, or because we're hurt or in pain so it changes our thinking and actions.

I pray we all learn to treat people, situations, and ourselves accurately, truthfully, and realistically with God's help and guidance.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Heart Guarding

Heart Guarding
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.
 
What does it mean to Guard your heart?  Well when I think of guarding something, it's about protecting it.  In the military if you guard something, it means you will protect it all costs.  If your playing sports guarding someone is to keep them from scoring.
 
What I like about the phraseology of this verse of scripture is that it says ABOVE ALL ELSE, which implies to me that the most important thing you can do as a Christian is to "GUARD YOUR HEART" and why?  Well the verse tell us why, "for everything you do flows from it."   What does that mean for the Christian? It means our HEART is the source.  It means our heart is where we decide to hate or love, forgive or be bitter,  sin or overcome temptation, to lose our temper or learn coping skills, to gossip or keep our mouth shut, to be mean or nice, to hurt or help others, etc....do you get the point? It all flows from our heart.
 
We may start thinking thoughts in our minds, but eventually it is our heart that decides between what God wants and what we want.  So, it's our jobs to guard our heart.  We do should keep out and not let anything sinful, hurtful, ugly, or awful into our hearts, and we should protect it at all cost.  We do not want the devil or sin to enter our hearts, because it if does, our heart will flow with all sorts of wrongs, evils, and bad things.  That is why guarding your heart from these types of things is so important.
 
Feelings, emotions, attitudes, and other things can all tempt us to want to allow our hearts to become hard, calloused, or dark, but if we keep an alert and watchful eye on our heart, we'll be able to guard it from allowing such negative and harmful things to fill our heart and then flow out into our lives and hurt and harm ourselves or others.
 
I have seen first hand, going to church, calling yourself a Christian, and even doing good deeds doesn't mean you have a good heart. Churches are full of "Christians" who might do good things, but they come with strings attached, baggage, hidden agendas, or behaviors and attitudes that do not reflect a heart like God. What's the issue? It's an unguarded heart, that has been allowed to be filled with envy, bitterness, rage, resentment, jealousy, selfishness, guilt, hate, you name it, whatever it is it does a lot of damage and attending church or doing church things and calling ourselves Christians is not going to keep us from sinning or having a bad heart, it's guarding it that is going to keep us straight so that we go to church for the right reasons and worship with the right heart, serve with the right attitude, wear the name of Christian with honor, and have a good witness and testimony to others.
 
I give you the plea that the Proverb gives you today, no matter what you do, where you go, what your circumstances, struggles, or problems.  ABOVE ALL ELSE, guard your heart, because it's where everything flows from.

 

Monday, March 03, 2014

Expectations

Expectations

Many times we have expectations for people or things and many times we are left disappointed, upset, or angry because our expectations are not met, but did we ever think maybe the issue is us? We have unrealistic or unfair expectations for others?

I think that's the case many times.  We think our spouse should do this or that, our children should make this decision or that, the preacher should go here and see this person, the church leaders should be spending money on this project or not on this one, our boss should let us do this, or our co-workers should be that, our coach should be running this play, or our friends should be dating this person, or the government should be voting on this issue.  Do you see how easy it is when "we think" we know what everyone should be saying or not saying, doing or not doing, being or not being?

I know sometimes in my life I have unrealistic expectations for my wife or my children. I know professionally church members sometimes have unfair expectations of me as their Preacher.   I know sometimes I see others who have expectations for others that just aren't right.  What has to change? Me and you.

First, we have to realize that we don't have all the answers, our way is not always the right or best way. Secondly, we  have to be humble enough to realize that sometimes others know best or are experts in things and we have to allow them to do their job or fulfill their roles.  Thirdly, we have to be unselfish enough to realize it's not all about us and sometimes it's not our place, our business, or responsibility to have our nose or hand in each and every situation and take a step back and concentrate on what is our job, responsibility, or business.

How much better could our relationships, workplace, churches, or teams be in life if we'd leave to have accurate, fair, and realistic expectations of people and things? So many times we allow our perceptions or thoughts to dictate our attitudes and we base them on emotions, feelings, or no facts and we expect others to line up with that, and it's never going to happen.  I don't like when people treat me that way and I don't want to treat people that way.

What is the answer?  Maturity.  Change.  Growth.  We have to learn to reprogram our thinking so our attitude or actions aren't negative or harsh so we don't have expectations that are selfish, wrong, silly, or not based on facts.  We have to learn to grow as a person, change our thoughts and perceptions to reality, and mature as a person.

Especially for the Christian, it's time we model the life of Christ and develop an attitude of  a servant and treat people with respect, fairly, and not put all our negative or selfish expectations on others, especially in our churches.    Jesus out of all people didn't have to be a humble servant, yet He was.  Make it a practice to regularly evaluate your expectations of others and see if you are being fair, accurate, realistic, and most of all modeling a Christ-like behavior and attitude.  Remember God has expectations for us.


Ephesians 4:2(NIV)
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Calling Out Christians

Calling Out Christians

Matthew 7:21 (NIV)
[ True and False Disciples ] “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

There seems to be an epidemic in our churches today, maybe it's always been that way? I don't know, but we have a lot of people who want to call themselves "Christian" yet they aren't really committed to what the name "Christian" represents, which is "like Christ" or "Christ follower". 

There is a serious lack of commitment among Christians and churches today.  There is a serious lack of people truly surrendering ALL of themselves to God in relationship and allowing God to transform them into the likeness of Christ. 

We live in a world today where people are more committed to their kids sports than they are their faith. Where people are more consistent in keeping up with their hobbies than they are in their church attendance and involvement in worship and service in the local body of Christ.  Where people care more about their careers or bank accounts than they do their eternity.  Where people are settling for a watered-down or pathetic Christianity instead of a life-changing growing and maturing relationship with Jesus Christ.

So I'm calling you out, I'm calling myself out.  We need to pick a side, choose a team, get off the fence, and decide whether we are going to live for God or give him our total heart or not? Jesus reminds us in the gospels you can't serve 2 masters, and John in Revelation tells us what God thinks of Lukewarm Christians.  There obviously was a point in your life where you realized you were lost and a sinner and needed a Savior and forgiveness of sins, but what happened?

You cannot grow as a Christian if you don't take your faith serious and make it a top priority in your life. You also cannot expect to grow if you don't serve the Lord and are very inconsistent in your church attendance and involvement.  If you never read or study your bible or get involved in a personal devotion or study time, if you only pray when you want something, how can you expect to grow or be totally committed?

We have too many dwindling and dying churches that are not being a church but just a religious social club of mediocrity and we have too many self-proclaimed Christians who really aren't living or doing anything to be like Christ or follow Christ.  Do you see something wrong with this picture?  The bible tells us we will be known by the fruit we bear, well it's hard to bear fruit when you are not planting, sowing, toiling, or growing anything.

Salvation is free gift, but it's not a free ride.  I think too many people want the benefits of Heaven, but they think they can just coast all the way there and live on this earth for themselves, their desires, wants, and continue in their human nature, and if so you've missed the point of salvation, eternity, and what it means to be a member of the church body and to be a Christ follower.  Being saved is a gift that only God can give and only through Jesus, but it's also just the beginning of a journey. We must totally surrender our lives to God when we ask Him to save us, or we've started out wrong, and we also must be open and willing to allow God to transform us through His Holy Spirit, but also through our efforts. If we aren't willing, never pray, never read our bibles, or never show any type of commitment to His church and desiring to learn and grow in our faith, how can we be transformed?

I am calling you and me out today.  Walk the Walk.   If you're going to call yourself a Christian, than make the effort, be committed, and do the work.  If not, then we just make the church and the name Christian look like a joke when we call ourselves Christians, but we never change our behaviors, lifestyles, attitudes, or we never go to church consistently, or serve or give regularly, and we never spend time in prayer or God's Word. 

Christianity is a relationship and any relationship will not work if we don't invest it, commit to it, and make it a priority.  We should not wear the name if we aren't willing to truly commit to that relationship. Though we will never be perfect and we'll fall short, sin, and make mistakes, that is not an excuse to continue treating Christianity like an option or church like a place I'll go if I don't have anything else to do.   The church is the Body of Christ and the Christian is a body part in that body and a body will not be healthy when body parts aren't growing and working.

Calling yourself a Christian or just attending a church service occasionally will not save you, being a Christians and the Church is what you should be because you are saved.  Take it serious. Make it a priority. Surrender. Transform.  Be a Christ follower for real.