Archive for July, 2015

“In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.”

(Psalm 143:12)

This was King David’s prayer request. ‘Kill my enemies.Make them pay for what they’ve done to me.’

Can I get an amen? How many of you feel like this on a daily basis? How many times have you wanted to cry out to God, “Kill my enemies, but slowly, so they suffer.”?

I wrestled with this all day yesterday and spent the night in the emergency room until 3:30 this morning with irregular heart palpitations caused by anxiety.

Flashback 24 hours ago

I purchased an SUV yesterday to replace my truck that had been totalled when someone ran a stop sign last month.

The young guy I bought it from is in the military and said he shared the same faith in God I did. We were both in the same fire department although at different times and his uncle has been my friend for 14 years.

He told me the motor and transmission had been rebuilt 8000 miles ago at a ford dealership. He told me lots of other great things about the SUV. I asked him if there was anything at all wrong with the car that he knew of. I said if there is please tell me and let me move on. He and his father looked me in the eye and said assured me nothing was wrong. I decided to buy it. I paid him and we went to the tag place to complete the title transfer. We laughed and joked together. We talked about my ministry and his little girl.

Twilight Zone

I returned to his house to put my new license plate on and drive home. The SUV travelled less than 2 miles from his house and the back wheel fell off. I immediately called him. No answer. To make a long stressful story that ended in a hospital visit, I will just tell you this, the engine needs to be replaced. The transmission is shot. There were no pads left on the brakes. The wheel bearing had disintegrated resulting in the wheel falling off. There is more to this horror story but I think you get the picture.

He knew all of this. He knew I would not make it home safely. He deceived me. His father deceived me. They used God to instill trust. And I wanted that same God to kill them both. I’m sorry but I need to be transparent. ‘Make them suffer God, slowly.’

Then I thought maybe God might take too long in dishing out some cold hard justice, so I spent the afternoon stuck on the side of the road devising a plethora of ways to get even. I got this one, God. I know you are busy running the whole world so let me handle this one for you.

I wondered how this one slipped by God. Wasn’t He looking in my direction while they were setting me up to lose my money? I reasoned with God. Hey I know you dropped the ball here so you can make it up to me by letting me get revenge. Just a little fire bomb to destroy the 5 cars parked in their driveway. You know something small. Just give me that God. You missed the opportunity to protect me so let me settle the score. You owe me that much at the very least.

Father forgive them

So as I mentioned earlier David prayed for God to kill his enemies. I like his style. Whack them God. Send some plagues or an Angel of Death or something cool like that.

But as the day wore on I started thinking about Jesus. I envisioned him being beaten and spit on. His beard being ripped out. Hanging on a rough wooden cross, not the smooth shiny kind we wear around our next. Abandoned by his closest friends.

His prayer…not like David’s. In fact, completely opposite. “Father forgive them.” Forgive them? Really? Are you kidding me? Don’t you see what they are doing to you? They deserve swift and severe retribution. You can’t let them get away with that!

“Father forgive them.” Jesus’ prayer was so different from David’s prayer. I want to pray David’s prayer so bad but who am I called to imitate? David or Jesus? Am I a follower of David. Am I considered a Davidian or am I a follower of Christ? A Christian?

Surrendered my rights

Rationally I believe I deserve justice. I want them to pay for what they did to me. I’m human, it’s how we are wired since the Fall in the Garden. But you see, 20 years ago I was rewired. I gave up my rights to hate and revenge. I am renewed in my thinking and how I respond to people who wrong me.

God softened my heart.

God was not looking the other way. He wanted me to practice what I preach. To truly love and forgive my enemies. He was pruning me. Shaping me into what he wants me to be. A creature in His image.

I learned that all this stuff I say I believe is just theory until I put it into practice. I need to walk rough roads so I can grow and lead others down the path of righteousness.

I read somewhere that hatred is a poison we drink hoping others will die. My anger and hatred landed me in the hospital. But the doctors can’t fix a heart problem that only God can. I repented and woke up lighter today. I am thankful for the lesson and do not take it lightly.

I hope and pray you can pray, “Father forgive them.”

Forgiveness sets a prisoner free

That prisoner is you

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Drop the stones

Posted: July 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

Would you have condemned me to hell?

Seems like an odd question but one that must be asked.

You see, I was a terrible person, a sinner. I did bad things all the time. I stole things. Lots of things. From good people. I had a vocabulary that mainly consisted of foul language.  I sold drugs. I lied. I cheated. I hurt people. I served one god, myself.

If you knew me in my “pre Jesus” state, what would you have done? Would you have befriended me? Would you have loved me? Would you have prayed for me? Would you have invited me into your home? Would you have visited mine? Would you have invited me to your church? Would you have told me about this Jesus that could save me from my self- destructive ways? Would you have snatched me from eternal separation from God?

Most of you that are reading this want to tell yourself yes, of course I would but I respectfully disagree. I can disagree with confidence because of my experiences.

You see I lived in a small town, only 1.9 square miles. This small town had 33 churches in that 1.9 square miles. Thousands of people attended these churches. “Good” Christian people. People that would answer yes, of course to all my above questions.

Here’s the stark reality, no one did. In fact they did the opposite. They avoided me. They told their children to stay away from me. No one told me about Jesus or that he loved me. They said things about me and crossed to the other side of the street when they saw me. They went out of their way to avoid eye contact. They could not wait until I got what I “deserved” They would have the last laugh when I was “burning in hell”. Then I’d be sorry.

Nothing New

Their behavior was nothing new. Jesus dealt with these types over 2000 years ago.

Remember a guy named Zacchaeus? The terrible tax collector? The cheat? The filthy sinner? Let’s look at Luke 19:1-9:

Zacchaeus the Tax Collector

19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

You can see in verse 7 what the “Good” Christian folks and religious leaders not only thought but voiced out loud. They had no plans on sharing any good news with Zacchaeus. They were even upset that this Jesus dude was going to his house for some wine and wings.

We claim to to be “Christians” which is to be “Christ-like” and yet we are not Christ-like. We don’t treat unbelievers the way Jesus did and still does.

It happened again in Luke 18:9-14:

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

This could have been ripped from any number of Facebook statuses today. I have seen many people who claim Christ, put down and judge unbelievers. They bash lifestyles and I’ve even read some that said they could not wait until these people burn in hell.

The same thing happened in John 8:1-11

8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Once again the religious people were there to condemn and Jesus offered forgiveness. He said, “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone. That’s what I want you to take away from this.

Paul said it best in Ephesians 2:1-8:

2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

Drop the stones

That’s what we seem to have forgotten. We were and still are sinners saved by grace and mercy. We all deserve hell but God sent his Son Jesus, who willingly came and died a brutal death so that the person you can’t wait to see, “Get what he deserves”, wouldn’t.

Don’t be the hand that holds someone down

Be the hand the raises someone up