Archive for May, 2015

Because I said so

Posted: May 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

I just returned from a 10 day visit with my son Tom and his family. He is stationed in Charleston, South Carolina and lives on the Air Force base. We stayed with him on base and soon learned there were many rules to abide by in order to remain on base.

Many of these rules, to me, seemed ridiculous and I mentioned this to my son. Whenever I shared with him my thoughts on one of these “stupid” rules, my son would explain the reason behind the rule and its necessity.

Once he made me aware of the need, the rules made perfect sense. In fact, I could not imagine not having these rules in place.

What changed?

With clarification, came understanding and acceptance as well as willful obedience. Knowing why a rule was needed changed everything.

Because I said so

    I thought of when I was younger and I would ask my mom if I could do something and she would say “No.”

I would follow up with “Why?”

And she would shoot right back, “Because I said so.”

“Mommy can I run across the street to get some.….”

“No!”

“Why?”

“Because I said so.”

“But why?”

“Because I said so, that’s why.”

What my mother was really saying was, “I don’t want you running across the street because you might get run over.” But because she did not elaborate beyond, “Because I said so,” I did not understand why she said no and this caused me to sneak around behind her back. I learned to cross without asking and several times I came close to getting hit.

If I would have had the information she possessed, I would not have crossed the street. I could not understand her reasons for saying no so I did what I wanted to do. I thought her answer was ridiculous just like I thought the Air Force rules were ridiculous, at least until I was made aware of their necessity.

Now that I have children, I make sure I tell them why I don’t want them to do something and the potential consequences if they choose to do it anyway. Simply saying “no” was not a deterrent to keep me from crossing the street.

Two possible directions

    I could go in one of two directions with this devotional. I could tell you how this reminds me of all the “rules” in the Bible and how some of them don’t seem to make sense but that we should obey because God said so.

I could explain the reason they don’t make sense is because of our limited knowledge of their necessity but that God has this knowledge and what He’s really saying is, “Don’t do this because I love you and I don’t want you to suffer the consequences.”

But I won’t go there.

I will go here

    The second direction I could and will go is this:

If and when you tell your friends about their need for a Savior, their need for Jesus, do you simply tell them they should surrender to Jesus because you said so? They should obey the 10 Commandments because God said so. Do you quote Jeremiah 29:11? Do you tell them God has a plan for them, plans to prosper them and all that feel good, “accept Jesus and your life will be perfect” baloney?

People who accept Jesus for a perfect life quickly find out that’s not true and they fall away. When trouble and persecution arises, they turn from God and slink back to their old lives.

Trying to get people saved when they don’t even know they are lost is like this:

Imagine you saw a teenage guy swimming in his backyard pool. He’s having a great time. Then you rush into his yard screaming, “I’ll save you!” You rip off your shirt and dive in. You quickly reach him and grab him. You assure him everything will be alright, you are here to save him. You then proceed to drag him, against his will, out of the pool.

He is angry and fights you the whole way. Why? Because he was not drowning. He did not need to be saved.

However if the scenario were different and you happened upon the same young man and he was splashing about screaming for help and you jumped in to save him, he would welcome you. He would not resist your attempts to save him. He would be grateful.

He would thank you. His friends and family would thank you.

Start with the need

    Your friends don’t know they are “drowning” in sin. They don’t understand their need for a Savior. Until they know they are doomed to hell without Christ, they won’t see the need for this Jesus dude. They will just view him as a hinderance to their fun, nothing more.

You need to explain their current eternal destination and why they are headed there. You need to do what my son did with me when he explained the necessity of the rules. You need to explain the necessity of a Savior.

Start with these verses:

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” (Romans 3:23-24)

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Go down the list of the 10 Commandments with them. Ask them if they’ve ever broken one. Ask them if they stood before God, would they be guilty?

You must make your friends aware of their need for Jesus. They need to know they are sinners in need of salvation. With knowledge, comes understanding. Enlightenment can guide them to real repentance.

Let your friends know they are drowning

Then throw them the life preserver

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Tourist Trap

Posted: May 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

Family Reunion

This week I took a road trip to South Carolina to visit my son, (who recently returned from an overseas deployment with the Air Force), and his family. This week’s devotional comes to you straight from the United States Air Force base in Charleston, South Carolina which is only fitting as the trip itself inspired this week’s devo.

Ten months has passed since I last saw my son, so to say I was eager to get here would be a major understatement. While he was away, I spent many days thinking about this trip and the time we would spend together. I thought about all the ways I would spoil my 2 little granddaughters, Mia and Addison.

We, (my wife Stephanie, our 11 year old son Christian and myself), left at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning for the 10 hour drive…or so we thought.

Tourist Trap

    Things started out great as we cruised along with a 70 mile per hour speed limit… then I needed gas. I pulled into a service plaza and the first thing my 11 year son said was, “I’ve never seen such an awesome service plaza.” I had to admit, neither had I.

It had so many fast food restaurants and souvenir shops. I did not know where to begin. I wanted to make sure I did not miss anything. We finally made our way back to our car and continued on but it was difficult because every couple of miles there were signs at the exits for all sorts of attractions. Not to mention the little mom and pop pastry shops or homemade dark chocolate covered strawberries.

There were so many things to see, so many places to stop and shop and even more places to eat. I stopped at multiple service plazas and looked at more trinkets and coffee mugs and state magnets than any man should.

Then a voice in my spirit spoke to me clearly and reminded me of the real purpose for this trip: my final destination, the long awaited visit with my son. But the voice did not stop there. It opened my eyes to how we get distracted in our walk and forget the real purpose of our life, our final destination.

Not our home

We are just visitors passing through on our way to heaven. Our mission is to live out our faith and tell others, but Satan sets up these little tourist traps filled with all kinds of trinkets and food for our flesh.

We continuously stop along the way, sidetracked from our mission. This has happened to me more than once over the years until I wise up and see it for what it is. Satan’s trinkets never compare to what I am giving up to browse his wares. His distractions are never as good as they seem and cost more than I am willing to pay.

The same was true of the trinkets at the service plazas. From 10 feet away the items looked great but upon closer inspection, they were cheaply made and overpriced.

As soon as the voice enlightened me and reminded me of my final destination, I ignored all the tourist traps and headed straight for Charleston.

Get back on track

If you’ve been fooled by Satan and his trinkets, don’t beat yourself up. He is really good at his game. He has been doing it a long time. Remember the Garden of Eden?

“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning,

your minds may somehow be led astray from

your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

(2 Corinthians 11:3 NIV)

Sound Advice

“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.

Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.

Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”

(Proverbs 4:25-27 ESV)

Sin will take you further than you want to go,

keep you longer than you want to stay,

and cost your more than you want to pay

Don’t Get Trapped

Belly up to the Altar

Posted: May 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

What is a church? I’m not talking about it’s physical structure or its interior contents, but more to the point, what is its purpose, its reason for existence?

I Googled the definition of the word Church and a few choices came up. The first said church definition and one was church definition Bible. I decided to see what the difference was between the two.

The mystery was solved with a click of my mouse.

Church:   (Noun) A building used for public Christian worship

I was not surprised by this definition and I actually expected it. The reason this did not surprise me is because many confessing Christians live as if they believe the church is in fact a building.

I decided to check out the church definition according to the Bible to see what I would find. I crossed my fingers and hoped it would be right.

Church:  From the Greek word ekklesia. This word is the Greek words kaleo (to call), with the prefix ek (out). Thus the word means “called out ones”

I dug a little deeper and discovered the English word “church” does not come from ekklesia but from the word kuriakon, which means “dedicated to the Lord” This word was commonly used to refer to a holy place or temple.

So with minimal “detective” work I have found the source of our ineffectiveness and deterioration. The true meaning of the Church, you and me, got mistranslated into a building made by men.

I wondered if anyone sent Jesus the memo because he is working off old outdated information, well if he is going by the Bible anyway. (thick sarcasm)

This is what we are told in Acts 7:48: However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men.

We are the “building” the “temple”, God resides in us. So the church is wherever we are. That can be either good or bad. Because we can either draw people into a relationship with Christ or drive them away.

A “church” building does not have these abilities. It just stands there. A building never gossiped or judged someone harshly. It has never wounded someones spirit or caused them pain. It’s an inanimate object.

You and I on the other hand are very animated. When people say they were hurt by the church they don’t normally mean a brick fell out off the wall and hit them in the head. They are talking about flesh and blood people.

We have somehow given people the impression, churched people are perfect or that we have it all together. I am certainly not lumping all churches together under this umbrella statement, I am simply speaking to the ones that behave this way.

People are afraid to share their messy lives with us for fear of  judgement and condemnation. We look so nice and shiny in our Sunday go to meeting clothes. We talk so appropriate and holy on Sunday. We gossip but cleverly wrap it in a “prayer request”

We point fingers, whisper and glare, All while wearing our Jesus mask.

I want to tell you about this place I visited years ago:

I walked in and was surprised as everyone turned and watched as I made my way to my seat. I was greeted with kind words and sometimes just a nod and a smile.

As I settled in, the man in charge asked me if I needed anything to drink and immediately brought me the cold drink I requested. He asked me how my day was and listened as I shared about the rough day I had that capped off a very rough week.

He listened intently and was sympathetic. A few others sitting around me listened and shared their struggles and told me they understood what I was going through.

I spent several hours there. We all laughed together and cried together. Quite a few asked for my cellphone number so they could see how I was doing and maybe get together again. They shared their numbers and  told me to call anytime, day or night, no matter the hour, if I needed to talk.

By the time I left I had forgotten about my terrible week. A smile even crept across my face. I felt lighter, even refreshed. I decided to go every Sunday. I needed this in my life, I needed the friendships and to know people cared about me and maybe even loved me. I lived for Sunday so I could see the people who had literally become my family.

I remember the time I went away on a business trip for 3 weeks and my phone blew up with calls from everyone wondering if I was okay and where I had been.  They said they were worried about me and thought something had happened to me.

I loved hanging out with these guys on Sunday and found myself missing them throughout the week. We started doing other things together, bowling, fishing, movies. I had never known love and acceptance like this before. They did not care about my baggage because they said, “Everybody has baggage. We’re all in this together.”

I could tell these guys anything without fear. I felt so free.

I remember when I got notice that I was being transferred out of state with my job and the last Sunday I was there. There was a lot of tears.

As I left for the last time I turned and looked at the sign above the building. The neon sparkled through my tears. Al’s Bar. I was going to miss this place. This was my family. I hoped I would find a place like this where I was headed.

Why is it the corner bar is more inviting than the local church? Why does the corner bar seem more like a family than the family of God?