Archive for April, 2015

Freedom to do…..nothing

Posted: April 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

There is constant media coverage of Christians fighting for religious freedom in America, but the only freedom it seems we want to embrace is the freedom to show others what we stand against, not who we stand for.

I see reports, almost daily, of Christians in other countries being beheaded, burned alive, beaten to death or drowned for their faith and their unwillingness to renounce Christ in the face of these dangers.

I see our brothers and sisters in China hiding in underground churches, just to worship our God. They have to smuggle God’s word just to read it. I’ve seen videos of Chinese Christians clutching Bibles, crying and kissing them. I’ve read stories of how Bibles are so scarce that they each tear out a page of the Bible and protect it with their life.

I read about imprisoned pastors facing torture and death for their unwavering commitment to spreading the gospel.

Our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ do not share the same religious freedoms we have and from what I’ve witnessed, maybe that’s a good thing.

We have the freedom to read our Bibles. We do not have to share one Bible among 100 people. Bibles are found in abundance here in America. We have “Christian” bookstores dedicated to just selling Bibles and books about Jesus.

We have the freedom to wake up every Sunday morning, put on our best clothes and drive to our beautiful church buildings, hidden in plain sight.  We even advertise our services in the local newspapers.

We have the freedom to pray whenever we want to, wherever we want to without fear of death.

We have the freedom to meet weekly in our favorite public coffee shop with a few of our friends and enjoy a Bible study and drink overpriced lattes and eat cake pops.

We have the freedom to share our faith with our family, our friends and our co workers without fear of being dragged into the street and stoned to death.

We have the freedom to feed the poor and help widows and orphans.

We have the freedom to visit those in prison and share the message of redemption.

We have the freedom to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

We have the freedom to love everyone, even those who disagree with our beliefs and try to take away our freedoms.

We have much in the way of religious freedom and we have the freedom to practice them.

Sadly we have a freedom that we tend to practice more than all the others. The freedom to do nothing

In the parable of the talents, Jesus described a man who did nothing. When he received his Lord’s money, he “went and dug in the earth, and hid his Lord’s money” (Matthew 25:18). When his Lord returned, he returned to the Lord just what he had been given (Matthew 25:25). Notice, the servant did not do any outright evil, such as stealing the money, but then neither did he do anything good. He did nothing and he got nothing good accomplished. Jesus said he was a “wicked and slothful servant” (Matthew25:26).

Matthew 25:18-30

18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

Do something

A side of Jesus

Posted: April 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

I have a confession, I love to go out to eat. I love it for many reasons. I don’t have to cook or shop for the food for that matter. I don’t have to clean up the mess or wash the dishes. And for some reason food always seems to taste better when someone else cooks it although, there are some exceptions.

I like to take my mom out to dinner every Saturday and catch up. She likes Applebees so we usually end up there. I order a full dinner but my mom does not eat a lot so she just orders a couple sides like mashed potatoes and corn. I always push her to order more but she always says, ‘I’m not really hungry so I’m just going to get a side dish. Hey, if she’s happy then who am I to argue, right?

Side dishes for dinner may not be a problem but when it comes to our relationship with Jesus, it’s a big problem. Most people are not hungry when it comes to their faith. They are full of the world so they just take a side of Jesus. I’ve been guilty of this myself.

Did you save some room?

Usually when I eat out I can’t finish my meal. When my server comes over to my table they can plainly see the look on my face that screams, ‘I need to unbutton my pants’, but nevertheless they ask, “Did you save some room for dessert?” Are they serious? I didn’t save room for air let alone dessert.

Are you so full of the world that you are not really hungry when it comes to Jesus? You just order a side of him? A little Jesus to go along with everything else in your life?

Do you get to the end of your busy day of work, school, Facebook, video games, friends, TV and as you are falling asleep you realize you didn’t save some room for Jesus?

Cut some things

I learned a little trick so now I can order dessert when I eat out. I drink water instead of soda. Soda always made me feel full quickly. Water doesn’t fill me up plus it’s good for me. I realized if I cut out the soda I had room for not only dessert but my meal as well. No more to go boxes.

If you find you have no room for Jesus in your hectic schedule, cut some things out of it. By cutting 15 minutes off your gaming, social media and TV, you gain 45 minutes daily that you can devote to quality time with Jesus.

Sadly I see many people who claim to be followers of Christ live their lives as if they were not but they occasionally sprinkle a little side of Jesus on their Facebook page or in conversation and feel they are “Living” it.

This does so much harm to the cause of Christ and to our reputations as Christians. A side of Jesus in an otherwise sinful lifestyle only turns outsiders off to Jesus. A side of Jesus is called hypocrisy on the menu.  It does not cause others to want to follow Christ, it repels them from Christ.

Don’t mention Jesus 

If you are living a double life, leave Jesus’ name out of it. You’re not doing him any favors. Jesus had some harsh words for people that just want to order a side of him;

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other! So because you are lukewarm- neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:15-16)

Jesus is the entrée, not a side dish

Jesus was a baker

Posted: April 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

This blog is not intended to stir up controversy. I just want to share some thoughts on a subject that has been blowing up social media the last couple of weeks.

We’ve all been bombarded with articles about Christian bakeries refusing to bake cakes for gay weddings or pizza shops turning away catering jobs for gay weddings. It has become an us against them fight to rights. I’ve silently watched this spectacle from the sidelines and my heart is broken.

It has caused me to examine our (Christian) agenda and how these beliefs and actions line up with the actions of Jesus and the example he set for us when he walked this earth. I looked at the scriptures and examined the interaction between Jesus and people who held opposing beliefs at their initial encounter.

I looked at the story of Zacchaeus in the book of Luke. He was the despised, corrupt chief tax collector and was considered a traitor by the Jews. He was also the poster child for Jesus’ earthly mission to bring salvation to the lost.

When Zacchaeus sought out Jesus, he was still living a life of sin. Jesus did not focus on this fact. He did not see what Zacchaeus was, but saw him as he could be.  Jesus opened a door to start a relationship that led to a transformed life.

You see, Jesus did not approve of Zacchaeus’ lifestyle but he was willing to accept him where he was. Jesus knew acceptance and approval were two different things. Jesus accepted Zacchaeus where he was at, but loved him too much to see him stay there. Jesus wanted to move him in the direction of repentance.

When Jesus looked up in the tree he could have called Zacchaeus out on his sinful lifestyle. He could have refused to have a meal with him and he would have been within his rights. But Jesus was more interested in winning the war, not just the battle.

Jesus, filled with love, called Zacchaeus down from the tree and went to his house to eat with him. If Jesus would have refused to eat with Zacchaeus, he would have remained unchanged in his sin and lost for eternity. But like I stated, Jesus opened a door and Zacchaeus charged through it into heaven for eternity.

I’ve spoken to well meaning Christians who shared stories of being invited to a close gay friend’s wedding and refusing to go because they did not want to offend God. They shared with me this caused bitterness and ended the friendships. The door was not only closed, it was nailed shut forever.

They ask me what they should have done. I refer to 1 Corinthians 10:27:

 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go,

eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.

Paul  finishes with this:

Even as I try to please everybody in every way.

For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many,

so that many may be saved.

Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.

I want to err on the side of love. Jesus showed me love while I was still a sinner because that’s all I will ever be. He loved me, his enemy, so much he was willing to die for me and he did just that.

If I owned  a bakery and a gay couple came in and wanted a cake, what harm would there be in me baking it? Am I allowed to love these people? Will God punish me for it? Would baking this cake cost me my salvation? If I turn them away will I have an opportunity to share Jesus’ love with them?

Or could I tell them I am a Christian and I believe every word in the Bible is true but that I want to love them the way Jesus does and taught me to? Could I open a door like Jesus did?

I would not perform the ceremony but I would bake the cake.

Love opens doors

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part,but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Jesus baked a lot of cakes. I will bake some too.