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Is There a Line Anymore?

Judges 21:25 says “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

Historians will tell you that we must never forget the past, for when we do, we will surely repeat the mistakes of old. Have you ever personally done this? I know we can look through history and see example after example of people and countries trying to do the same thing that had already failed them once before. Maybe you know of some specific examples?

Today I’m challenged considering how over history, when people abandon God’s plan, they always end up coming back to God and begging for forgiveness. It does not fail. Over and over the Israelites went through this crazy cycle. Many people also personally go through this cycle of fighting God’s plan in their lives only to come to the foot of the cross in repentance when they realize the folly of their “own plan”.

So, how does this statement, “everyone did as he saw fit” from Judges, which is the very last verse of the entire book, become relevant today? In the USA I see this mentality becoming the norm. Don’t you? Nobody is allowed to tell anyone they are wrong. There are riots over the simplest things. The Satanic Temple is suing over a Nativity Scene, really! (1) Where is the line to be drawn? It must be drawn! We know this from history and we delude ourselves if we think it will not keep moving.Crossing-the-Line-300x191

The government in the USA is by the people, for the people and of the people. Too many of us do not care, and we are seeing the results. Believe it or not LAW is not TRUTH. Law is made my man; Truth comes from God. Laws change, truth does not. Argue about this fact all you want, but it’s true.

Everyone does as they see fit, and if they cannot, they throw a tantrum. So many of us are like whiny, undisciplined kids! Think about it! No one acts as a parent anymore, we all just run around with not an ounce of self-control and look where we are today. If you are thinking that things are great and so much better, you are one of those undisciplined kids who has truly missed the big picture. I’m so sorry.

When Israel got done whining about not having a King like all the rest of the countries around them (envy), God relented so they could learn a lesson. Israel ended up being split into 2 kingdoms, Judah and Israel, wars were aplenty, then came Persian and Babylonian enslavements, and the list goes on and on. All they had to do was trust in the Truth God presented. It IS that simple.

Is there a line anymore? Absolutely, so many of us just can’t see it, or chose to ignore it. It’s not okay to think everything should be okay; lines must be drawn or else everyone will continue walking off the cliff of ignorance.

(1) http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/04/07/satanic-temple-sues-indiana-county-over-courthouse-nativity-scene/

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The Waiting Game

A nudge, give me clarity.

A feeling, give me a sign.

A command, will I listen?

Have you had a feeling?  You know the one where you seem to have found a sixth sense? No, not like in the movie…”I see dead people”.  More like someone is watching you, or knowing the time is right? How often? Do you wait on these feelings before acting?

I am challenged in my life. Over the years it’s seems that I’ve had clear feelings about the direction I should be taking with my life. Am I right to expect this now, or am I using it as an excuse? Are you?

What are your plans for your life? Have you thought about it, or do you coast by day by day with no plan? Let me talk about this idea of a plan first, then we’ll wrap up.

I think as American’s or those living in wealthy countries we typically have or had at one time a plan for success. It’s who we are. Maybe these plans got sidetracked or squelched. Maybe there is no light at the end of the tunnel, seemingly. Let me challenge you to consider the plan outlined in the Bible. See if it can be sidetracked or squelched as compared to your personal plan.radical

God challenges us to “Go”, to “Make Disciples”, and “Baptize” from Matthew 28. God’s plan is all about telling the story of salvation, to making it known what this thing called sin is and to helping usher in as many people into the Kingdom of Heaven as possible. If you believe as I do, then this is a worthy cause. Much higher than my goal of making tons of money (which as you know can’t be taken with us upon death).

I’ve been reading an excellent book by David Platt, called “Radical”. I highly recommend it for Christians and non-Christians. Why non-Christians? Because this book truly and unabashedly explains what a true Christian should be all about. It clears the air over the argument that “I don’t want to be a Christian because of what the Christian’s I know are like”. It paints the picture of what God expects and ironically, it’s straight from the Bible in which we’re supposed to be reading, supposed to be learning from though prayer and meditation. It’s a challenge, but should that be a surprise?

Consider these biblical truths…. Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. All liars…will have their part in the lake of fire. You are saved by faith not by works. Everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Believe and be baptized, every one of you.

God’s plan is for us to all be saved. Who is going to spread the word? Have you considered that the Bible does not say that only a couple of people are to GO? All of us are to spread the Gospel. All of us are to BE teachers and speakers and vessels for God’s plan to spread. If we choose not to, we are fooling ourselves, we are passing the buck. We are waiting for someone else to do the work, when we have already been called.

Do we wait for the feeling, the nudge? Or, do we listen to the clear command that has already been placed on our lives? You have been called to be a part of the plan. There are no excuses.

For clarity, FEEL the nudge.

For a sign, READ what is already there.

To listen, OBEY His command.

Material Illness

Were you thinking Mental Illness? That’s not a typo in the title. I have a few stories to tell today, and they just might open your eyes to a better life.

When I was a kid I desired attention, maybe you did too? I loved it when my parents would play with me, or take the time to encourage me at sports or art or Cub Scouts. It meant a lot. You too may have fond memories.1003-best-buddies-forever

If you were lucky enough to go on vacations as a young person, then I bet you’ve tried to recreate these experiences later in life, maybe with your own family. Maybe you yearn for some of these experiences that you remember.

In my adult years I seem to watch a lot of TV. Over the years I’ve seen my fair share of daytime shows like Dr. Phil where a family is in turmoil, or a child is disturbed. I’ve seen this show play out in lives surrounding my own and I bet you have too. Maybe we all just need a vacation, eh?

Let me tell you what I really see. I see relationships. I see good examples and bad examples, but in the end it’s the relationships that matter. Dr. Phil points out what needs to change…the kid cries and opens up…the parents are shocked to realize the solution wasn’t so difficult. What do we take from these “happy” outcomes?

Here’s the rub. The big issue. Too many of us have never come to the point of realizing there is a problem, but if we look in the mirror, if we strain our eyes just a little bit, I think we’ll see it.

In a country where we seemingly “have it all”, we have so little. What?! What are you talking about?! It’s quite simple. What do you remember from your childhood, from school, from your life? What do you really long for? I bet if you are honest with yourself you will bring to mind relationships. Who was your best buddy growing up? What adventures did you have? Any friends in school or college that you formed lasting memories with over the years? How about family engagements? Games nights? Good conversation? Going to lunch with co-workers and learning about their lives? These are the memories that most of us recall and cherish. This fact is why we have a problem.

The problem is that too many of us have changed. We have somehow decided that buying stuff is where the memories are at now. We buy a new car, then after a year it’s not good enough. We collect stuff and can never have enough. We buy stuff and NEVER open it, now that’s crazy. Let’s think about this. I remember some of my toys and stuff from my childhood, it was fun. But it was TRULY the relationships that I yearn to remember and have again AND have in abundance.

Dr. Phil points out how there are relationship problems at the core of many of his shows. It’s never about not having the right stuff! It’s never about how you should have been buying this or that; it’s that you shouldn’t have been focused on the wrong things. You should have been focused on the relationships.

You know this also applies to your faith. Your “relationship” with Jesus is key! Why would it be any different? If church is a building and you go to “get” something, then it’s not a relationship, it’s a thing; it’s stuff. Salvation is not something to buy, it’s a gift and gifts come from a relationship. If you don’t “know” Jesus, then maybe you haven’t been looking for a relationship with him. Make sense?

Remember the fact that you have some pretty good memories from good relationships in your past and present. Seek to build on these or start new ones. Memories are gifts. Cherish them, build on them and get over your material illness!

What would Satan do?

Listen. Sometimes you have to give an article a flashy title to get people interested, okay? In this case though, this is exactly what I’m going to be talking about.

If you have ever read the biblical account of Job, then you may know Job went through hell on earth by being tested through several trials, like disease, loss of family, loss of wealth, loss of respect and all at the hands of Satan. See my old post “What Happened to Job“, if you care to read about this great story. We learn in the book of Job that Satan has been allowed many “abilities”, some of which allow him to do great harm and manipulation in our world.

First, let’s backtrack and set the stage. Most of my readers live in the USA and for the most part we live in a culture that epitomizes the American Dream. The dream that we can make ourselves into whatever we want. We can work hard and get whatever we want. We can make it happen if we try. Sounds good on the surface doesn’t it?

Now, let’s dig into this ideology. We see words like ourselves and we in the definition above which equates to me, myself and I. Are you with me? Good. I thought this would be easy for you. Moving on, we can easily see that this American Dream concept has also translated into an “I want this”, and an “I want that” mentality. A mentality of materialism.materialism

Next, we can look at how we live. Why do we dream? Isn’t it to make money so we can buy something or earn respect in someone’s eyes or provide a grand lifestyle? I like a statement I’ve heard my pastor and others proclaim.

We work so we can buy something we don’t need, so we can impress the people around us that we don’t even like or even care to know.

How sick and wrong is that? Can you honestly deny that you’ve taken part in this mentality? Now let’s transition to the meat of this rumination. What does the church look like in your neighborhood?

Let’s think about all of the church splits, church arguments about money, doctrinal battles and overall strife among denominations. Where does this come from? Obviously in the church, it comes from having an attitude like that of Christ and the concept of loving your neighbor as yourself, right? Ha! LOL! Where does it come from people? You tell me. How about, “I want this”, “I want that”? Hmm.

Sorry to say this, but I contend that the idea of the American Dream is a tool that Satan has used VERY well to get us to forget the real mission of the Church (with a capital C), so that we would spend our energy worrying about MY church (little c) and what type of music SHOULD be played. Our churches have become materialistic, our attitudes revolve around this concept and it shows.

In the bible Job was a righteous man and he was tested in oh so many ways. He passed the test and came out better in the end. How are we doing in the midst of our testing?  What do our attitudes truly show?

Jesus said, GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS

….oh, I’m not called to do that…I can’t, I have a church meeting about the building project…isn’t that the job of missionaries?…here, have some money so I feel like I’m a part of the work…this year I’m going on vacation maybe next year…I can’t give now because I have a cable bill, cell phone bill, car payment and credit card bill due.

What would Satan do?

In this case does he even…..need…..to do…..anything..…else?

Snake Oil Salesmen Did it Right

Back in the day, and I mean BACK, small towns would sometimes be graced with the presence of the traveling salesman. Sometimes what was sold would be “snake oil” or something pretty good! These guys made their way across the country, working hard.snake-oil-salesmen Today, we could equate this work to a talented inventor working diligently to get his idea out there to make a difference in their realm of influence. And, on a larger scale, a company advertising hard to let the world know about their products so they could grow and make a living for their employees.

It’s funny to me how snake oil salesman was the first thing I thought of for this post. After all, many people have equated this profession to the world of religion. There is a huge distinction that I will make though and it will make complete sense if you stick with me. First, let’s take a look at the Great Commission again (see last post).

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit… (Matt 28:19)

In today’s church culture, it seems that we stick to our church buildings. We might talk to a neighbor, or do some meaningful work in the city, but for the most part we are not sharing the gospel are we? Think about that. If you are a born again Christian, true Catholic or committed to your denomination, meaning that you have stepped off the podium of life and placed Jesus on it, then how many people have you honestly shared the gospel with this past week, month, year(s)? I have to ask this question of myself too.

Let’s think back to the salesman, or the inventor, or the company looking to sell their goods and ideas. How successful would they have been if they just talked about helping people and served some food, but never talked about the real product they were invested in? What would it look like if they rode into town proclaiming they were a salesman but never explained what they were selling? WOW. Let’s read that again in a slightly different way.

What would it look like to proclaim to be a Christian, but never explain to anyone what that meant?

Hi, I’m a Christian! Yep, my calling is to proclaim the gospel to all nations! Here’s $10, I’ll pray for you! Here, have a meal, the potatoes are great tonight! Oh, you have questions? Here’s my church address…and my pastor’s phone number…

Are you uncomfortable yet? I hope so, since this is the church for the most part in the USA today with a few exceptions. Go and make disciples…this takes effort, commitment and time…of all nations…this means leaving your town, your country and getting the word out if you are able…baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…this means taking the next step, coming alongside a new believer and bringing them into the Kingdom.

It’s not just the pastor’s job, it’s every Christians’ job. Be like the snake oil salesman, not in the product that they sell, but in the effort in which the work was done. Have you ever considered why God has blessed the USA with so much money? Maybe it was so we would have the means to be able to fulfill the Great Commission, not so we could go out and buy one more thing that we don’t truly need.

Next up: Materialism and why the USA has already lost. Oh, this should be good!

All About “Me”?

Jesus died for “Me”

Of course, Jesus died in order to take away the sins of the world. The lies, theft, misuse of God’s name, all the times God was not put first in our lives.  Believe in the lordship of Jesus and be baptized, as the bible says, this may not be what your pastor has told you…(Matt 28:19-20, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 16:31-33, etc)

Jesus died in order to give God glory

Now, here is the part we seem to have missed or forgotten. Everything, and I mean everything that happened on the cross, at the hands of Jesus, with the Israelites in Egypt, the walls of Jericho tumbling down, and Paul’s many journey’s witnessing to the Gentiles and beyond, everything was done to bring glory to God. God, the one and only. God the Creator. God, the only one who deserves it… (Jeremiah 9:23-24, Ps 96:1-9, I Chron 16:23-29, John 17, I Cor 10:31, etc)

Jesus died so that I could give God the glory20150116_124617

So, when we think of our salvation, or consider the idea of salvation if you are not saved from your sins, we must put these thoughts into context. The reason God wants us to be saved is more than the fact that he loves us, it’s that he also calls us to bring him glory! In all things we are to bring glory to God…(I Cor 10:31)

Give God the glory by Going and Making Disciples of all nations, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

At the end of Matthew, Jesus proclaims the Great Commission as written above. Go and make disciples etc, right? Why? To give glory to God. Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Why? To give glory to God! Go and baptize, making disciples of all nations. Why? To give glory to God…Not because God simply loved “me”.

Summary

“Me”, “Me”, “Me” sounds like a line from The Matrix Trilogy when Agent Smith was duplicating himself.  If Jesus simply died for “me”, then when I am saved I am done! Yipee! I figured this salvation thing out!

I think God is disgusted with us.  The goal is to glorify God and our culture misses this fact. Read John Chapter 17 to get a feel for this concept, or do a little searching and you will find the concept of giving God all the glory pervades scripture. Jesus died for me so that I could bring glory to God through my salvation, to all nations. Going to church once a week for an hour doesn’t fulfill this command. Serving food in a homeless shelter once in a while doesn’t fulfill this command to go, go, go either, does it?

Have you ever wondered why Jesus clearly preached that the path to hell is wide but the path to eternal life is narrow and only a few will find it? (Matt 7:13-14).  Have you ever meditated on this scripture and wondered what it means?  Have you bought into a watered down version of Christianity?  Will you one day say “Lord, Lord”, but Jesus will say he never knew you? (Matt 7:22-23)

Next up: All nations doesn’t mean your town, your state or simply your nation. More on that in my next blog post!

Run away, now!

satanTemptation.  You know, Snickers bars, buttery popcorn, ignoring speed limits, yelling first asking questions later, even pretty ladies.  We all deal with temptation in our own way.  How do we overcome it?

Here we go!  Let’s look at a guy named Joseph.  He gets sold into slavery and bought by a rich family.  He’s a really smart guy and the man of the house sees it.  Joseph is given incredible responsibility to run the household because he does it so well.  The family prospers.  You must also know that good ole Joe is a pretty handsome guy too.  His owner’s wife notices this fact.  Uh Oh.  She wants Joe to pay attention to her if you know what I mean.  Joe isn’t into that at all, and he runs away from her repeatedly because he was taught to not mess around with another man’s wife!  Eventually, this lady is so fed up she traps Joe and he gets away, but he has to leave his coat because she is holding on to it.  Talk about a prima donna who must have always gotten her way!

Well, this lady goes on to tell a lie to her hubby.  She says Joesph tried to rape her. This leads to Joseph getting tossed into jail.  Fun, right?  Well, this all ends well.  Joe is so smart he is given a high place in running the jail, he helps others in jail and eventually is noticed by the King.  In the end Joseph is 2nd in command of the entire land and he helps everyone survive a severe famine.

Here’s the moral of this story.  No matter what evil temptations are coming your way, run from them.  You may have guessed this is a paraphrased version of the Biblical account of Joseph in Genesis 39-42.  God blesses Joseph in all that he does and even the bad circumstances lead to even better situations.

Do we trust God that much?