Thank God I’m not like these losers

Well that’s harsh but sadly, though they may not voice it, many self-professing Christians feel this way about unbelievers. We seem to pass through a wormhole that erases our pre-Jesus memory.

We not only forget that we are (STILL) sinners, we want to forget we were ever unbelievers. Suddenly we are too holy to associate with filthy sinners. We are quick to judge their actions while we judge ourselves by our intentions.

History repeats itself

This self-righteous behavior is nothing new. Jesus dealt with this situation when he walked among us. He was quick to point out this sinful behavior and even told of dire consequences that awaited those with this line of thought. Let’s check the Good Book.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 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.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

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.’

“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.”

(Luke 18:9-14)

Status update

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.

What stinks?

The Pharisees were all about appearances. They worried about how people perceived them. They dressed the part externally but internally were rotting corpses. At least that’s what Jesus called these self exalted posers.

Jesus saw right through them to their hearts.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

(Matthew 23:26-27)

Ouch

What a terrible, yet accurate, assessment of these men. They put so much effort into looking good and it was all for nothing. They made their fellow man their standard, not the Son of Man.

Obey the Pharisees

What did Jesus just say? Obey these people he just called rotting corpses? This can’t be right. Let’s investigate.

“So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. BUT,” (and it’s a big BUT), “do not do what do, for they do not practice what they preach.”

(Matthew 23:3)

Does this robe make my butt look holy?

A lot of Christians today dress nice and say all the right things when in public but behave completely different when behind closed doors or their keyboard. Jesus had a scathing review of the Pharisees for this same behavior. I’m sure his opinion has not changed.

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long, they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues.”

(Matthew 23:5-6)

They dressed the part, but inside were black, maggot infested, rotting dead flesh.

Scripture minute:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!

You clean the outside of the cup and dish,

but inside they are full of greed and indulgence.

Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

(Matthew 23:26)

   Don’t drink from a dirty cup

What Are You Feeding Your Soul?

Posted: August 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

Comfort food

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese…evil incarnate. Why do I declare these seemingly innocent food dishes evil? It’s because they are what I turn to during times of stress and anxiety. They are warm, familiar and inviting. They provide me with a false sense of comfort, and they wreak havoc on my plans to have abs of steel and a chest of iron.

Every time I start a diet, without fail, some sort of turmoil arises in my life. I’ll start my diet like a boss; pumping iron, sweating through cardio, drinking gallons of water, eating lots of protein, and feeling the burn. Then, 20 minutes into my new diet and exercise program, I fly off the rails due to some stressful situation. I’m cruising along and then boom, a commercial for dark chocolate covered chocolatey chocolate balls cereal hits the market. I can’t handle that kind of stress man, you feel me? I need a five pound meatloaf stat, and don’t forget the side bucket of mashed potatoes. Do you have any hot buttered rolls?

Off and on

I take pounds off. I put pounds on. I take pounds off… It becomes a vicious cycle. I do well and see improvement but something sends or sucks me back to my old ways. It becomes, to me, a losing battle. Why try? I know the outcome already.

I’m not alone in feeling this way. Millions of people join gyms on January 2nd every year, with hopes of this being ‘THE YEAR’. The gyms are packed solid all over the United States, but come the third week in January, we are talking Zombie apocalypse. The gyms are desolate arenas of failed dreams. The fitness fanatics get sidelined by life, come week two and limp through week three, only to give up and say, “There’s always next year.”

What you know

It’s easier to return back to what you know, than to continue into the unknown. My old life is right there where I left it, patiently waiting for my inevitable return. It’s welcoming and familiar, and like mom’s meatloaf, comforting.

I rationalize. I’m six foot tall and 170 lbs. Not so bad. I tell myself I made it my whole life without Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s muscles, so do I really need to be buff? I make lots of excuses and rationalizations for not following through. I look around at my friends and none of them look like “The Rock” either. We are all ordinary and I find solace in that. I lower my standards from “The Rock” to the standards of those around me.

I want to be in shape, but I don’t want to do what it would take. I do not have the discipline to go the distance. Back to business as usual. Pass the macaroni and cheese, please.

When we turn from our old lives, we leave behind the familiar and head into unknown territory, We might be leaving behind friends who were part of our past but would only hinder your attempt to break free from your old life. You will miss them, but you need to move forward and they will only hold you back.

You make new church friends. You start getting into this whole God thing and it’s pretty cool. People are nice. Everybody calls you brother and hugs feel great. Your meeting new friends over coffee. Yeah, life is good.

Que the enemy

Boom, three weeks into your new life, the road gets rough. Maybe your girlfriend just ain’t in to this whole Jesus thing. Your family doesn’t get it. The road ahead looks like an IED went off in the middle of it. You don’t want to crawl through all the mess. Who knows how long these troubles will last. You look back, and suddenly, your old life looks like a nice big plate of meatloaf.

You start thinking about going back to the comfort food of your old life. There’s friends back there you’ve known your whole life. They get you. Maybe you can still salvage your relationship with your girl. Going back to the familiar seems easier then going forward into the unknown.

But none of your friends are living for God, and instead of raising your standards to Jesus, you lower them to those around you.

Satan’s meal plan

Satan wants to be your dietitian. He wants you to stay in your comfort zone, eating comfort food. His plan to accomplish this is extremely simple. He will send trials, persecution, troubles, stress, worries, fear, anger, even a dash of hate, and mix it all together in a big bowl with an egg, and some salt…BOOM! You have got yourself a comfortable meatloaf.

He drizzles some guilt over the top of it to seal the deal. You turn back to your old life, feeling unworthy and realizing you don’t have what it takes to live for God. Your old friends welcome you back with affirmation, “It’s okay. We knew you’d be back. Let’s go get a beer.”

You are right

Right there, when you realized that you could not live for God, you were closer than you thought to successfully living for God. We are screw ups, but guess what? He already knew that. We need to surrender to God and admit we can’t do it. Every second of every day, we are to live dependent on God in order to live for him.

We need a daily diet of scripture intake. We need daily intake of the living water. We need to be in daily conversation with the Lord of our life. That’s the only way we will successfully stay connected and persevere in our walk with God; the only way it will last a lifetime.

Psalms 119 gives us a blueprint for a successfully consistent lifetime walk with God

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word (Psalm 119:11-16)

Satan knows you are a failure. He just wants you to think God is too. You will fail in your own power. Thankfully God does not expect you to live in your own power. Don’t eat Satan’s lies.

You can’t out exercise a bad diet

We don’t need good kids

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. You did not misread the title the first or second time. I said “Stop raising your kids in a good Christian home”. We don’t need anymore “good” kids. We need more Godly kids.

I just read a news article about a 15 year old boy shot and killed by police. Yes, this is tragic. In the article his sister is quoted, “He was a good person. He would just be there to brighten your day.”

Let’s take a look at the circumstances of the shooting as outlined in the news article:

The 15 year old boy had a prior conviction for grand theft auto when he was 14. He was put on probation, but then broke that probation. They required him to wear an ankle bracelet. The article said that from the boy’s social media posts you could tell he was in to trouble. In this current situation that led to his death, he had car jacked someone and drove around firing a gun out the car window.

Police pursued him into a cul-de-sac where he proceeded to ram them. Two accomplices fled. The 15 year old then tried to run police down in an effort to escape. Three officers opened fire, striking him. He exited the car, dropped his gun, collapsed, and died.

His mother is pleading with the two accomplices to come forward, “We don’t know who else was in the car with him, but we’re asking you, could you please come forward? Because you saw. You saw something. You saw them shoot him, you saw them chase, you saw something.”

They are blaming the actions of everyone but their son.

Good isn’t good enough

This “good person” moniker is not the exception but the norm. Many people who commit mass shootings and murders are often described as being raised in a “good” Christian home. We try to teach our children morality based on the standards of this world. The only problem with this is the simple fact that the world’s system is flawed.

Paul said our good deeds, our goodness, is filthy rags before a holy God. We teach our children how to live good lives by obeying the 10 commandments but this school of thought is based on sinking sand.

Here’s why

The 10 commandments were given to use as proof we cannot live up to God’s standards because we are born sinful and depraved. The 10 commandments were given to show us our need for a Savior. We cannot raise good kids by teaching them the law. Our goal should be to raise godly kids by connecting them to Jesus.

While teaching law is building on sand, connecting them to God is building on the Rock.

Let’s face it

You messed up as a kid. You still mess up. You break the 10 commandments, we all do. The only thing that produces real change in us is to connect personally with the one who has vested his life personally in you.

Don’t raise your kids to be good because according to Jesus, there is no one who is good, except God.

Raise them to be Godly. That’s all that counts in the end.

This not that

Posted: August 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

This not That   

I figure, In order to teach you the things Jesus is looking for, I need to start by showing you what he’s not looking for. Makes sense, right? There were many occasions where Jesus opened a can of whoop butt while confronting the Pharisees.

What exactly is a Pharisees you ask? Well that’s another good place to start.

Pharisee: A member of an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law, and commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity.

Basically they believed their doo doo had no odor and if it did, it smelled a lot like roses. Jesus however was in constant conflict with these stinky, pretentious, self righteous ancient dudes.

We are going to look at some of these instances where their beliefs clashed with the teachings of Jesus. Starting with a woman caught in adultery and ending with a short dude in a tree.

Pay close attention, put your learning cap thingies on because you are about to embark on a journey where you will find out what Jesus in looking for in a follower and equally important, what he is not.

Human pinata

By now, we all know what sin is, but for those of you who are just emerging from your darkened rooms, shielding your eyes from the sunlight, thumbs aching from a nine year marathon of gaming, I will clarify it.

Sin in its purest form is anything that separates us from God. Anything that comes between God and you, is a sin. Newsflash, we all sin, everyday. Yes even your sweet little ole grandmother. Calm down. I’m sorry you had to find out this way. But it’s true.

Deserving of death

    The Pharisees found a woman in the act of adultery, a sin, and wanted to eradicate her sin immediately, by smashing her head in with rocks. Makes sense. Wonder where the male was that she was involved with. I mean it takes two to tango right?

Back to the story:

The Teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. Now what do you say? They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

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

Boom baby

    Jesus drilled the truth right into the center of their brains. If you were one of those Pharisees holding that rock tightly in your hand, anxious to throw it at this filthy woman, what would you have done? Let’s be a fly on the wall.

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 standing there.

Thou shall not

    As a writer, my imagination kicks in, I can’t help it, it just happens. I envision Jesus kneeling down and writing the 10 commandments in the dirt. The Pharisees guilty of breaking some of them, got the silent message loud and clear. Drop the stones, walk away.

Not beyond forgiveness

    Jesus straightened up and asked her. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir, she said.

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

(This story is found in John 8:1-11)

Scripture minute: Luke 6:37 John 7:24 James 4:11-12 Romans 2:1-3 Matthew 7:1-5

Don’t judge people

because they sin differently than you

Don’t open the gate

Posted: August 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

Pumped

The heart is a vital organ, pumping blood throughout the body; keeping our other organs alive. Humans can actually live without a brain. According to women, men have been doing it for centuries, but without a heart, we are doomed.

Okay bad joke, but on a more serious note, our physical heart health is vital to our existence. And just as equally important is our spiritual heart health, as we discussed this week. Our spiritual heart pumps the blood of Christ through our bodies and enables us to live according to the Will of God.

Our heart determines what we do for others. It enables us to hear from the Holy Spirit. It opens our minds to accept God’s rebuke. It allows us to hear the voice of God and obey. Every action and reaction flows from our heart. These can either be good or bad experiences and the outcome is dependent upon the condition of our heart.

Satan is the enemy of our heart. He is in a constant state of destruction. He throws everything in his arsenal at us to trip us up.

If you were going to be in battle against a real army, you would build a fortress to protect yourself. Look at the medieval knights. They built monstrous walls around their castles and stationed armed guards around the top of the walls .They constructed lookout towers with alarm bells to warn of impending danger. Their castles were for the most part, impenetrable.

A little subterfuge

We can learn a lesson from the mythological story of the Trojan Horse.

The Greeks had spent a fruitless 10 years trying to conquer the city of Troy. The city was well fortified and any attempts to break in had proven futile, so they devised a plan to have the people of Troy simply invite them in. Sounds crazy but it worked.

The Greeks constructed a huge hollow wooden horse and hid their soldiers inside of it. They then pretended to sail away, giving the people of Troy a false sense of security. The people opened their gates pulled the horse inside, claiming victory.

That night, the Greek soldiers crept out of the horse and opened the gate for the rest of the army, which had returned after dark. The Greeks walked right in and destroyed the city of Troy, ending the war. The people of Troy brought about their own destruction.

Hacked

Modern day hackers use hidden malicious code, (viruses), using the Trojan horse concept, to wreak havoc on millions of unsuspecting computer owners. These modern day Trojans come in the form of useful, or interesting articles, victims install on their computers. I’m sure you’ve been victimized at least once or twice in this manner. A tweet comes in, informing me the sender just saw a compromising video of me online. Just click this link… Ah, no thanks.

The frustrating thing about being hacked, is realizing we invited it in. All our passwords and firewalls don’t do a bit of good when we download the virus ourselves. We feel invincible with our Norton anti-virus program and our 16 digit password made up of upper and lowercase letters and numbers but in reality, are we safe from ourselves?

Satan’s Trojan Horse

You pray. You go to church. You don’t murder or rob people. You feel strong against the devil. But he is not going to attack you where you expect it. Like hackers that post an interesting article wrapped around a virus, Satan uses people to create shows and movies that you find interesting and entertaining. Satan doesn’t break down your walls, you invite him in. We go to the store and see the 60 inch flat screen Trojan horse, bring it home and watch movies filled with all the things God detests. Fun, action packed entertainment. It does not feel like sin. We install the virus right into our hearts and minds, and the enemy destroys us from the inside.

Like the soldiers that opened the gates for the rest of their army, Satan uses Hollywood to open the gate for other sins to manifest in our lives. Watching sexual scenes in movies can open the door to porn or watching profanity laced movies can lead to cursing.

                                                                                    Spoiler Alert:

The horse is a trap

Don’t open the gate.

Out of Sight, Out of Heart

Posted: August 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

The best argument I can make for staying plugged in to Jesus and God’s word on a daily basis is one man…Peter.

When Peter was with Jesus everyday he was willing to die for Jesus if it came to that.

But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

(Matthew 26:35)

Fast forward a few hours later…

Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard and a servant girl came to him.

“You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.

(Matthew 26:69)

Peter stood up and pounded his chest and said valiantly, “Yes I was. Take me to him so that I may suffer the same fate he must suffer.”….Ah No! His will to die with Christ vanished when he was not with Jesus.

But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

(Matthew 26:70)

Strike One

    Ok so he made a mistake, I mean seriously, he was under pressure. The little girl caught him off guard. He just needed a moment to clear his mind and remember his vow to Jesus. He just needed to take a little walk.

Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

(Matthew 26:71)

Peter sheepishly raised his hand, “Yep that’s me. Guilty as charged. Bring on the pain.”

WRONG

He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know this man!”

(Matthew 26:72)

Strike Two

Well that escalated quickly. First he said he was not with Jesus, now he claimed he didn’t even know Jesus. He was not just distancing himself from Jesus, he was completely cutting him out of his life.

There is no way I’m going to die for this man. Jesus made his choice, let him suffer the consequences…alone. I didn’t sign up for any of this stuff. The healing and feeding people was cool, but this? This is crazy. Peter out.( Maybe that’s where the phrase “Don’t Peter out on me” came from.)

Peter could not get away fast enough and the accusations from the girls began to draw a crowd. They began to recognize Peter from when he was passing out some loaves and fishes on the hillside.

After a while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them, your accent gives you away.”

(Matthew 26:73)

Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”

(Matthew 26:74)

Strike Three

   

Peter did not even hesitate this time. He was not going down with this…this Jesus. This was his fault. All of this. He made Peter put down the sword. He could have fought their way out of the garden, but no. What did Jesus expect was going to happen? And now Jesus expected him to die too? Forget that!

Satan smiled

Peter is separated from Jesus for maybe an hour or two and he starts denying him. What happened to “I’ll follow you anywhere,” “I will die with you,” and “You are the Christ, where else would I go?”

That’s what Satan does. He looks for a tiny crack in your armor and he picks at it until he exposes enough to get inside. He will stop at nothing to drive a wedge between you and the very one who gave his life in exchange for yours.

This warning should be heeded;

And do not give the devil a foothold.

(Ephesians 4:27)

Webster defines “foothold” as this:

A secure position from which further progress may be made.

That, my friends, is exactly how Satan snares you. But remember, he must first gain a foothold, that secure position, before he can progress further.

Stay close

    When I was little and wanted to feel protected, especially if I thought something was going to get me, I would cling to my parents. I remember going through the Haunted Mansion ride in Disney World and being so scared that I hung onto my Father’s pant leg. I followed so closely to him. I became part of his leg. Nothing was going to get between him and me. Nothing was going to pry me from him.

That’s how close you need to stick with Jesus. So close that you two become one. So close that nothing will come between you and pry you away.

Lurking about

    The enemy of your soul is lurking about looking for that foothold. He waits until you skip a day of scripture reading, then he pounces. He will send distractions so one day becomes two. Then he really turns up the heat to make it a week, then he has you…

Stay close

Don’t Peter Out

Expect the worst

Posted: August 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

If you were walking alone in a seedy back alley at midnight, your ‘spidey’ senses would be heightened. In fact, you’d expect danger.

If you could visually see the spiritual realm, 2 o’ clock on a sunny Sunday afternoon would hold just as much danger as that dark alley.

Satan’s minions, masters in the art of deception and destruction, are lurking, setting traps, waiting to snare you. It’s their 24/7 job. Your best chance at avoiding these snares they have set for you is knowledge.

If you recognize the trap, you stand a better chance of avoiding it.

If It Looks Too Good…

it probably is. No matter how good a situation looks, you need to question everything. Does this situation lead me closer to God or will it take me further away. Will this situation, though good, keep me from experiencing great. This is important because good is the enemy of great.

Good is the method Satan employs the most. When you settle for good, you never realize all you have compromised.

For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible even the elect.

(Matthew 24:24)

The Art Of War

Knowing your enemy is the key to victory.

“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.” (Sun Tzu, The Art Of War)

Game Advantage

I love the Call of Duty game franchise and I stand in line with my boys at every midnight release. The first time I play the game on campaign mode, I make it a few minutes and get killed by unexpected hidden enemies or sudden ambushes. I get to try this level again, but this time I know what to expect, and I make it a little further. I repeat this until I beat the game.

The second time I play the game I know where the enemy is and I expect the attacks, so I am prepared. I know what to avoid and when to fight. I beat the game quickly and almost effortlessly.

Now when one of my sons plays the game, I can coach them and tell them where the danger is. They don’t make the same mistakes I made and they don’t suffer as many casualties. This is why sales of Game strategy guides exist and sell so well.

Strategy Guide to Life

Your life experiences and the Bible are your strategy guide to successfully help you navigate the enemies territory and beat him at his own game.

Cheat Codes:

How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. (Psalm 119:9)

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

(Isaiah 30:21)

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (spiritually)

(Joshua 1:8)

All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

(2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Download your cheat codes into your memory today.

Defeat the enemy and win the game.