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

Vengeance Is Mine

Posted: June 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

There is so much evil in the world but this is nothing new. From the moment Eve’s teeth pierced the skin of the fruit, evil prevailed. It has resided among us for centuries but the invention of the Internet has given it a broader stage.

We are instantly aware of evil the moment it occurs. Social media allows people to broadcast their opinions to the masses. Opinions once kept to themselves, now free to blast from the safety of their keyboard.

Immorality is the rampant topic of the day. Right is wrong and wrong is right. We are fooling ourselves if we think this will ever right itself. This world is ruled by the enemy of our soul. The enemy of our God and Savior.  We cannot expect anything less than pure unadulterated evil.

We must face this simple truth,  if we claim Christ we paint a target on our chest. We are the enemy. We are what’s wrong with the world because the world is evil and we are lights exposing it. We do not belong here. This is not our home. We are foreigners, aliens among  the citizens of this broken world.

We will never fit in and that’s okay because we were not meant to. We don’t go with the flow. We do not take the wide road with the many, but the narrow path with the few. We will suffer and we will rejoice because our Savior suffered for us. He died so that after we have suffered in this life we will rejoice for eternity in his presence.

Do not shrink in the face of persecution but boldly face it, but in love not retaliation. When they hurled insults at Jesus he did not open his mouth in defense but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. God is your defense attorney and the judge of those against you. But if God is for us who can be against us for greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.

Put on your helmet of salvation and strap on your belt of truth. Clothe yourself with the breastplate of righteousness and protect yourself from the enemy with the shield of faith. Take up the sword of the Spirit and slay the enemy with the truth, in love.

You are in God’s army. You will be attacked. Don’t be surprised.  There will be casualties but you will awake in the arms of Jesus. So boldly take up your cross and follow the example Christ gave us. Die to self so you live as Christ. Fight the good fight while the light remains for darkness is upon us and is ever present. Stay alert for your enemy the devil is a roaring lion seeking to devour you. Stand firm great is your reward.

2 Thessalonians 1:5-12New International Version (NIV)

 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might  on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

As we approach this years conference I decided the was appropriate.

Regener8td's Blog

The title to this blog could mean one of two things; first I think attending a Christian writer’s conference is a waste of time and money or I believe they are not a waste of time and money.

I just returned from my annual trek to Langhorne Pennsylvania where I attend the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference and I decided after attending this conference for the last 5 years, it was time to put my thoughts on paper so to speak.

I have realized several things over the years:
If I was not a writer I would be a writer’s conference groupie. I would go just to hang out with some of the most amazing people I have ever come to know and love. I am so very blessed by the friendships I have made. The four short days we see each other seem to fly by in seconds and…

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Is God really in control?

Posted: June 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

Is God really in control?

Does He really know what He is doing? Can I trust Him to do what is right? Is He making this up as He hovers above the earth is a distant dimension? Does He even know what’s going on down here? Does He even care?

If I was God…

I’ve heard people say this many times, “If I was God I would…” then they spout off all the things they would do differently. I always want to to say, “Well we can solve that right now, you are not God.”

I’ve heard people say, “If God does not come soon then He owes an apology to Sodom and Gomorrah.” As if they are sitting in judgment over God’s actions or seemingly lack thereof.

I read countless posts on Facebook from Christians, complaining about our government and our President. They say he should not have been voted in for a second term. They say that he is ruining America and will destroy our religious freedoms. They cast stones at him and his character. They call him names. And urge fellow believers to take up their cause to impeach him.

To all that I ask again, “Is God in control. Did God allow our President to be voted in again? Could he have prevented if He wanted to? Could he have caused him to have a heart attack? Could he have allowed someone else to win?

The answer to all of these questions is, YES. But apparently God allowed Barack Obama to win for a reason. A reason we might not know or understand. It’s God’s plan, not mine and not yours.

Wrong message

When we carry on and complain about what is happening in our world, we send the wrong message to unbeliever’s. We are calling into question whether or not we truly believe God is in control.

We place ourselves on the Throne and insinuate we could do a better job if we were God. Our words fall on God’s ears like a fist shaking in His face, “Why don’t you do something.” When in fact what we are really saying is, “Why don’t you do things the way I want you to?”

We see a tiny miniscule piece of a very large puzzle and we think we have it all figured out. “This is how I would do it if I were in charge.” Well guess what? You are not, God is and always has been and always will be.

Apples and oranges

Trying to compare how you would do things versus how the God of the universe, the Creator of all things, would do something is just plain ridiculous. Comparison is futile.

But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'”

Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? (Romans 9:20-21)

Did you get God’s memo?

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.… (Isaiah 55:8-9)

I started out asking you some questions and I want to leave you with the answers.

Yes God knows what he is doing:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)

Yes you can trust Him to do the right this…always:

For the word of the Lord is right and true;

   he is faithful in all he does.

The Lord loves righteousness and justice;

   the earth is full of his unfailing love

(Psalm 33:4-6)

No He is not making things up as He goes along:

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times,

what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ (Isaiah 46:10)

He is very aware of our current situation:

The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. (Proverbs 15:3)

And yes, yes he cares about you so much that when someone asked Jesus how much he loved them, Jesus spread out his arms on the the cross and said, “This much.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Sleep well

God is in Control

No matter how many times I read the Bible something new always pops out, like I’m reading it all over again for the first time. This happened again just a few days ago. I was reading the Parable of the Sower, which is my favorite parable, and I feel like the Spirit revealed something to me that I never saw before. Here’s the parable.

The Parable of the Sower

Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” (Mark 4:1-8 NIV)

    I’ve read this parable many times and even spoke on it a few times but in this last reading I thought about the farmer casting seeds on the rocks, along the path, and even in the thorns. What farmer does that?

I see farmers out tilling the soil with their big tractors and then planting corn in the fertile soil but never once in my whole life did I see a farmer planting corn on a bunch of rocks, let alone thorns. The farmer in Jesus’ story didn’t seem to be a very competent farmer.

As I pondered why Jesus would use this farmer as a role model in a story about planting seeds the Holy Spirit opened my eyes and revealed a new truth to me.

The farmer in Jesus’ parable was not only competent but doing the evangelistic work we are all called to. Jesus was giving us an example to follow.

Check this out

    The farmer, by the world’s standards is crazy because he’s out there casting seeds in all sorts of places we know ain’t nothing gonna grow. We’re like, “Dude what’s up? You are wasting your time planting seeds in all these bad situations. Stick to the good looking soil buddy.”

But the farmer ain’t having none of that. He just keeps on throwing seed in every direction. We shake our heads and say, “what an idiot.”

But here’s what Jesus was trying to tell you and me; Scatter seed everywhere. Scatter seeds over the rocky lives of drug addicts, prostitutes, alcoholics, thieves, murderers, EVERYWHERE.

Jesus is saying, “Don’t prejudge. Don’t prequalify. It’s up to me where the seeds grow, you just plant. That’s your only job and when I’m done growing who I want to grow, you can pull in the harvest. For now plant the seeds of salvation everywhere you go to everyone you come into contact with. Get to work farmer.”

Remember you get credit for scattering seeds, whether or not the seed sprouts so scatter as many seeds as you can.

Manure is good

    Manure is good for the soil and stimulates the growing process. The people we tend to avoid have a lot of manure, (so to speak), in their lives and they are usually the ones who grow into the strongest believers when Jesus is sprinkled on them.

Scatter seeds into the manure of people’s lives

stand back and watch God work

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.….”



“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

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?

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