Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Love in the Truth

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ."
            Ephesians 4:15 NIV

This past week, our pastor talked about three things in reference to how we handle one another, both Christ-follower and non.  We must be humble, be gentle, and be patient with one another in everything we do.  It's hard to do.  It's VERY hard to do. Especially when we feel we have been wronged by someone else. But let us flip that coin over and step into the shoes of someone who does not know Christ and see what they see, because many of them feel as though they have been slighted by Christians.

I can remember many times when I first became a Christ follower, when I would go out with groups called FAITH outreach teams.  With these teams, we would go into people's homes and begin to almost badger them about their faith, what they believed, how they came to that conclusion, and most of all, where they stood in their decision to follow or not follow Christ's calling in their life. Most of these individuals had never been to church before, and most were unfamiliar with the teachings of the Bible, besides a few of the stories they may have heard as kids.

I remember one particular visit with a person we will call Mr. Smith. We were invited into Mr. Smith's house just to sit and talk with him about life and Christ. At first, he really had no reservations with us being there, but as time progressed and the conversation turned more towards how he felt about his relationship with Christ (after just a few visits to our church), even I began to feel very uncomfortable with where our team leader was taking the conversation. I felt as though Mr. Smith was being brow-beaten into making a decision to follow Christ.  In all honesty, it was a guilt trip, and I was being dragged along for the ride. It left a bad taste in my mouth about evangelism and reaching out to those who do not know Christ. I began to second guess my own purpose in bringing people to Christ. And, I began to look at the world from their shoes.  How would I feel if someone almost became belligerent towards me and where I stood in my walk? I began to see Christ's world in a whole new light.

Christ's love transcends all we will ever know about Him and the Truth. The Truth about Christ is love. There is no greater commandment from Christ than to love others.  When it comes to those who don't follow Christ, it's not up to us to make sure they go to heaven.  If that is what we are concerned about, that is when the light of the conversation turns from the individual, to us.  It becomes about our security and feelings of self worth in Christ and we lose focus on our basic purpose: to "speak the truth in love." To be sure, God wants us to tell everyone we can about Christ and the Truth.  But, he wants us to leave that person's decision between them and Him.  That is where we end and He begins.  That is where Christ is more powerful and persuasive than we could ever be. From that point on, it is our duty to love them, guide them and nurture them, but not to force or coerce.  Coercion may work in an interrogation to get information from someone, but coercion never worked when trying to make someone make a decision in life. Most times, it just forces them to go in the opposite direction. It hurts more than it helps.

We are called to love, and that is what we must do.  Be humble in our humanity, be gentle in our approach to those who don't know Christ's love, and be patient in God's timing for them. We MUST speak in love.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013


"....When you believed, you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,/ who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance......"  Ephesians 1:13-14

Today I had a moment.  It wasn't a moment where the heavens opened, velvet ropes parted, and the light of God shown down in my office.  It was as quiet a moment as when Jesus Christ came into our world.  At this moment, I realized that I had been portraying the true symbol of my faith completely wrong.

When Jesus died for our sins on the cross, he died as a servant to us.  He showed the world what it meant to give up ourselves and follow the Father. His death AND REsurrection showed us that God was for real and that He was going to do all He ever said He would do. Jesus Christ then became the symbol of our faith, NOT THE CROSS.

Too many times, we as Christ followers use the cross as a symbol of our faith.  But the problem with using the cross as our symbol means we only understand half the story.  Anyone can die and become a martyr to a cause.  Then whatever may have caused their death may come to symbolize their legacy.  The problem with the cross as the symbol is that the story of our faith did not end there.  It began when Jesus Christ came back to life on the third day.  Without the REsurrection, our faith is baseless and has no more merit to the world than the death of John F Kennedy or Joan of Arc.

Now you might be thinking, "what this has to do with the verse above?"  Well, if Jesus Christ is the symbol of our faith, the Holy Spirit is the part of the Trinity that seals us for eternity and permanently marks us as His.  That seal takes the form of actions, words, deeds, love, kindness, forgiveness, compassion, service and so much more that we live on a daily basis.  Our lives become the outward portrayal of the seal of the Holy Spirit. We become marked and the world will not know it from something physical, but from something much greater than that:  a life bent on service to God and others.  The seal cannot be hidden when we have truly put Jesus Christ as the only symbol of our lives, and we take the seal of the Holy Spirit as the Father has given us.

So I ask, can the world see that you are sealed with the Holy Spirit and do YOU see Jesus Christ as the symbol of your faith?


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Path to Heaven

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." John 3:36

The path to heaven is very simple........or is it?  Jesus even said himself that the only way to the Father is through his Son.  But let's dissect this verse.

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life;"  There is no doubt in my mind that this is a true statement.  We MUST believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose again on the third day or our faith is baseless and God is not at all powerful. 

Now for the second part of this verse: "......whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."  Faith is the first and foremost requirement, but obedience to God goes hand in hand with believing. There is no faith without obedience because our obedience to God's calling means we are listening and obeying. When we pick and choose what we are going to do for God, instead of truly listening and obeying, then we are making a grave mistake in our eternal life.

Obedience means belief.  Faith without obedience is not faith.  Just believing that Christ is the one and only Son of God who died for our sins and rose back to life is the easy way out.  I can believe I am a pilot and can fly all day long, but if I don't go fly, then I'm not really a pilot.

Think about it.


Monday, October 1, 2012

The Center of the Universe

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” Luke 6:24

There it is, black and white right? Rich people are not going to heaven. Discussion over.

If you believe this and are reading it on the Internet, then it must be true right? Because everything on the Internet is true? Wrong, this is just a joke.

This portion of Luke comes from Jesus’ sermon on the mount. God was not referring to the rich in just money, although so of them were not going to make it into heaven. If we look back on the history of the time, who were the richest people in those days? The governmental leaders and the Pharisees and church leaders. Jesus was trying to tell the self-righteous church leaders that they already had their gifts here on earth and were not going to make it into heaven.

If we apply that to today’s society, let’s really look at who the rich can be. Money is not the only thing someone may be rich in. Would the self-indulged, self-centered person be rich in something? Say, EGO or PRIDE. What about the person who walks around looking for the attention of others at the detriment to anyone in their way? What about the pastor who is so absorbed with his own ambitions for money and power that he loses sight of his mission for Christ? What about the politician abusing his richness in power to manipulate the masses for more power?

When we think of rich, our first inclination is to money. But power, vane conceit, self-centeredness, and so many other qualities can lead to a life void of a relationship with Christ and others. And we will find our consolation already in those qualities we choose to chase, instead of the mission God has set before us.

Looking to dethrone myself,


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Live Sent

“But Jesus said to them, ‘I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns too, for that is what I was sent to do.” Luke 4:43 ESV

For so many Christ-followers, living the life that God laid out for us, even before we were born, is harder to do than learning to fly an airplane or build a skyscraper. Why is that?
Why do we struggle to do the right thing and not the wrong thing?

Why do we struggle to spend time with Christ everyday, trying to fit him into OUR busy schedule?

Why do we struggle to simply stop on the side of the road and ask if someone needs help with their car?

Why do we struggle to give just the few dollars in our pockets away to someone who may be asking for it?

Pride is one reason. We think WE have the answer and God should be on board with our plan and schedule. Or we ACT like a little god, thinking we know that the person asking for money is just going to spend it on alcohol.

Another reason might be fear. We are afraid that if we let God into our lives, everything we are comfortable with will go away. Or maybe we are afraid of all the news stories we hear about people being hurt trying to just help someone out.

Whatever is keeping us from acting, is also keeping us from connecting with God. God has made things real simple for us: love Him with all we are (Mark 12:30), love others despite ourselves (Luke 10:27), and finally live the life God sent you to live (Matthew 28:19).

What is God asking you to do that you are not doing? Where has He told you to go that you have not gone? Who has he told you to talk to that you have not talked with?  We must follow Jesus' example and live a life sent by the Father.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Let It Go

"....And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations......." Mark 13:5-13 ESV

Television and the Internet have unleashed on the world a revolution in information.  If we really think about life a mere 60 years ago, TV was barely around.  Kids played outside, news was still found in the newspaper a day after it happened, and even then it was mostly local in nature.  Today, we hear about almost every little thing going on in the world and our country: shootings, stabbings, fires, murders, uprisings, coups.......and the list goes on and on. 

In a world that lives on a 24 hour news clock, we hear about almost everything wrong and distorted about our fallen reality.  But what we don't realize, is that this is just the beginning.  The earth is just in the beginning stages of its own end.  The biggest thing to think about is the whole prophecy thats here in these passages from the gospel of Mark:  it really won't start until the gospel has been "proclaimed to all nations."  Has that happened?  I don't know and really it doesn't matter.

What really matters is that we just go, and proclaim His word.......that we don't focus on when the end is going to come, but be ready for it to come when God says so. There is a lot more to cover in these passages.  More to come.

Praying the Mayans did get it right so I can go home!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Same Thing

"A person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out." Prov 25:28 MSG

Epiphanies can really hurt sometimes.  Self evaluation after those epiphanies makes me want to crawl in a hole and never come out.  Why?  Because when we have an epiphany, a realization, an Ah-Ha moment in life, most likely that means God is prompting us to change something in our lives.  That has been happening to me for a long time now, but one of the most painful of all realizations came to me this morning. 

First off, I am dead tired.  Soddy Daisy, Chattanooga, Jasper, Hixson, Chattanooga, Dalton, Augusta, Dalton, Soddy Daisy. I spent 18 and a half hours yesterday on a whirlwind flying/driving extravaganza.  I literally rolled into my house at 2:30 this morning only to have to get back up at 7:30.  That's when the pain started, not from any headache or hangover, nor sleepless night or cold.  No, no, it came from God, his Holy Spirit. 

I literaly had a conversation (one way mind you) with God this morning on the way to the airport, and you know what I heard:  looks like someone needs to re-wire a little bit of themselves.  I'm not talking a full on overhaul, I'm talking just a small little re-route.  I pleaded with God, arguing that this was the way he had made me.  I thought I heard a laugh but wasn't sure.  What I heard was confirmation that I really was being moved by the spirit.  Time to act.

Remember these words:  self-control and self-discipline are the same thing.  Anyone who tries to split hairs is either an English major, or someone who doesn't want to face the fact that they lack both. That's what I realized this morning:  I kind of lack a little bit of the same thing these 2 contractions represent. I'm not talking full on no self control, can't keep my brain mouth filter in check, let my thoughts always get the best of me type of self control.  I'm talking, get your but in gear, stop procrastinating and get something done for your God, family and friends kind of self control. 

Picture this.....................(and I will paint that picture over the next few posts)