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)


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I Love You Uncle Steve

"........The man went back and began to preach in the Ten Towns area about what Jesus had done for him....." Mark 5:18-20 MSG

Dear Uncle Steve,

I saw you a while back.  You were in the hospital, bed ridden and eating ice chips because you had some stomach problems.  I'm not sure the doctors ever figured out what caused you to have such problems, but they assume it was the new chemo drugs you went on. 

Chemo-therapy- what a familiar word, yet so foreign to those of us blessed enough not to have to go through it.  We don't know the pain, the suffering, or the shear will it takes to finish the day as strong as possible after completing a round with this stuff. Even now, you fight with the new stem cell treatment. You are an inspiration to your family Uncle Steve.

When we were growing up, all 10 nieces and nephews were the targets of your constant sarcasm and quick wit.  As much as we hated the "2 Steves" and what it meant to endure a family gathering under the constant barrage of comments, antics, and jeers, I wouldn't trade a single minute of that time with you, for anything in the world.  I'm not sure you know the impact you have had on my life.  If I have never told you before, I am going to tell you now.

Uncle Steve, you are an inspiration to me.  Your ability to fight this cancer, to wake up everyday and fight the good fight against this disease has brought life into perspective for me.  As I get older, time really begins to speed up and I look back with fondness on the times we spent together at many a family gathering.  I have not been the best nephew the past few years.  There are times we have gone months withouth speaking to one another, but for some reason, now, now that this nasty disease has taken hold of you, I feel compelled to reach out and say emphatically, I love you.  I love you more than ever because now I see a man who needs to know what his nephew never told him.

As I close this letter Uncle Steve, I want you to know the 2 things I pray most for you:  that this disease will leave you like the demon possessed man in the Bible verse above and that you will be able to go out and tell everyone about the miracle of how your disease was healed, but most of all, I pray that you have come into a relationship with Christ.  I pray for you Uncle Steve because I love you.  I love you now more than ever, and I hope I am not too late in telling you this. 

This family does not need to miss you yet so please fight hard everyday.  If you agree to fight hard, I will agree to pray everyday until the doctors tell us about the miracle you are.

With Love,


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Be Wary Who You Listen To

"Judges sell verdicts to the highest bidder, priests mass-market their teaching, prophets teach for high fees, all the while posturing and pretending dependence on God: "We've got God on our side. He'll protect us from disaster."  Micah 3:11 MSG

In my life, there have been many people I once considered close who I now consider far away because of the things I let them try and put into my head.  Some were friends, others were family, but all taught me one invaluable lesson in life: be careful who I let influence my heart and mind, especially when it comes to my walk with Christ. 

I can remember one person who constantly tried to justify to me that chasing after the finer things in life was great when we made sure we used it for the work of God.  And he was right, but what didn't line up with my conscience (a.k.a. the Holy Spirit), was that this person's chasing after God was not really used for the good of the kingdom.  It was used for self benefit, self promotion, and was really just a way to justify the love of money, versus love of God's people.

We have to be careful who we trust and listen to.  Know and study them and carefully look at their motives:  who is out for money and fame, or who is truly out to serve God?  Do they tell you how to conduct your life, or do they merely give you advice based on Biblical truth?

Those who cared most about what God was doing in my life never tried to tell me what I need to do in life and then start pounding me over the head with Bible verses.  What they did do for me was ask that I go seek and search for the answers myself.

Is it time to solely stop listening to others and begin finding the answer God intended for us to find.  Begin to read and allow God into your life.  Be authentic, and He will reveal the world to you.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Frog in Boiling Water

"Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds, walk away from their only true love." Jonah 2:8 MSG

I really hope God will not be mad at me over this post, but here goes.  For the past few weeks I have kind of been experimenting with what it's like to follow hard after God and then what its like to be lukewarm, you know just enough to get by.  Here is the one truth I realized as I got out of the shower this morning (I do a lot of thinking in the shower and while running):  my life starts to break down without that constant in my life.  I start to become grumpy, irritable, and mostly almost depressed.  I lose focus easily and I begin to channel my energies to the negative instead of the positive things in my life. It is the weirdest thing I have ever experienced.

Fall away from God for a while and I bet you will begin to see the same things in your life.  What's funny though is that this process does not happen over night.  It is a slow fade.  There is a song out there somewhere about the slow fade when you give your heart away.  When we give our heart away to other things in life- money, kids, work, busy-ness, sports, TV, internet, etc- we start to slowly fade away from the one true love we have in life- God and Jesus Christ. It's like the frog in boiling water-  put him in before the water starts boiling and he wont feel the hot water until its too late........

I have also learned over the past few weeks that there will be seasons like this in life.  Its not avoiding these seasons, but recognizing them and working hard to maintain the relationship with God.  Don't try and be perfect either, it will drive you absolutely crazy. Beleive me, I've tried it.  What I have been working on is picking myself up the next day when I fail to connect and start anew.  God doesn't want perfection, he wants authenticity with us. 

Time to focus and commit.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Use or Lose

"Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them." (Mark 4:25 NIV) As Christ followers, we need to understand be very important thing: the gifts and talents God has so generously blessed us with, are not ours to keep. They are ours to share and bless others with. I believe there is a deeper meaning here in this verse from Mark than what we normally read. Its time to share........ It's been a hard road over the past few years for me personally. I'm not talking problems and financial woes and the bad economy, although that has been a catalyst for the change. The road I am referring to has been one of finding out who I am as a Christ follower and what it means to really understand Gods word and spirit. This verse right here mindof sums up the road I am going's a road paved with dissapointment in myself, not in's a road with a guardrail called the Holy Spirit who has been there to help nudge me in the right direction instead of letting me go off the cliff.....its been a road with lines that are sometimes blurred and not well defined where I run into oncoming traffic only to finally jerk the wheel back and get in the right lane.......there have been potholes on this road, but those potholes were the bad decisions I made by not listening to God and doing my own thing.......but most importantly, this road has been driven on in a car that constantly needs work, almost like my first car. I loved my first car nd put a lot of time and work into it. That's how I need to treat myself: I need to work hard on the Jeremiah Roadster so that no matter what life's road brings, the Roadster will be ready and equipped. So what does all this mean: don't keep what God has given you to yourself: God will take away all he has given you if you decide to be selfish with it. Is it time for you to use your talents for someone or something other than you? Freak

Monday, April 30, 2012

What does God want you to do?

"But Amos stood up to Amaziah: 'I never set up to be a preacher, never had plans to be a preacher.  I raised cattle and I pruned trees.'  Then God took me off the farm and said, 'Go preach to my people Israel.'"
Amos 7:14-15 MSG.

When we read the Bible, we really read a lot of what we hear about in church and miss so much more in the more unknown books.  I must say that I have learned a lot from these more obscure books of the Bible.  These "lesser" prophets, as they are sometimes referred, actually did some of the best work for God.  Case in point, Amos.  I had never touched the book of Amos until this past week, and I have pulled some very applicable life verses out his ministry.

Amos was a simple man who was given a very tough minstry:  go out and tell the lands of Israel, and their kings, what God has prepared for them if they don't stop what they are doing and turn back to God. As you can see, he was a farmer, not a preacher.  He was a simple man who lived a simple life and God called him into something so complicated, all he could do was listen to God and do as he was instructed.

What does this tell us about listening and doing?  Amos says so precisely as he is talking to Amaziah, the chief priest at the Bethel temple, that he is not a preacher, but a farmer.  Basically he is saying, "Look, I am a farmer dude. Do you really think I am smart enough to come up with some elaborate plan to get rid of the king?"  All Amos did was nurture a special relationship with God, listen intently for what God had planned for him, executed that plan, and left the results up to God. 

What did I learn from Amos?  Shut up, listen for God, and do what he asks.  The rest is up to God. 

Amos has become one of my Biblical heroes. A simple life, morphed into a complex ministry, which ultimately served God.  Done.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Exit Stage Right

"A leper came to him, begging on his knees, 'If you want to, you can cleanse me.'.......Jesus dismissed him with strict orders: 'Say nothing to anyone........'"  Mark 1:40-44 MSG

Center Stage, the Spotlight, the Limelight, Focal Point, the Headliner, Front and Center.  These are all names for the position where everyone focuses their attention, whether it be during a show, a concert, or some other event.  But what happens when this becomes our focus and drive, versus making sure people hear the message of Jesus Christ?

The focus turns from God and we try to put it on us.  When things start going wrong, our focus turns to how we can honor ourselves and make "ME" look better, instead of ensuring God looks better.  When Jesus was healing the sick and telling them not to let others know about it, he really had 2 purposes:  number one, He wanted to ensure his Father received the glory for these deeds and not him (ehhhem, in other words, not seeking the spotlight), and number two, he was not ready for his ministry to takeoff.  He was calculating the precise time he would have to face off with the pharisees in order to fulfill his ministry here on earth and the will of the Father.

I struggle with this sometimes in the ministries I work with.  I play drums, and really enjoy playing music at church and other functions.  But what is my motivation when playing?  Is it to get my name out there and SHOW others that I am honoring God with my talents, or am I doing it strictly out of service to God? How easily we can gray the lines between the two.  When I speak and teach, am I doing it to teach someone about God and his awesome power, or am I looking for approval from others that I did a good job and really "brought the message?"

Think about your motivations before you enter into ministry or service for God.  Then ensure your focus is God, and not you.  I have to often.  Do you?


Monday, April 23, 2012

A Yearning for Church

"Then they entered Capernaum.  When the Sabbath arrived, Jesus lost no time in getting to the meeting place.  He spent the day there teaching."  Mark 1:21 MSG

Sunday mornings have been difficult lately.  Sometimes the kids are sick, other times we are sick.  It was a long week trying to bring home money as a pilot, even to the point of working all day Saturday and just wanting a day off.......from everything.  Maybe the hardest thing is the fact that we just don't feel like one of those cool puzzle pieces with the pretty flowers on it at our church.  We just feel as though we don't fit in well.  I truly believe it is what we make of it, and not what our church family makes of it. 

I have to look deep inside with this passage today.  Look at the example Jesus set when he gathered his disciples and headed out for his ministry.  When the Sabbath came, "...he lost no time in getting to the meeting place....."  In other words, he was excited to get to where the lost were so that he could teach.  He even spent the whole day there!  What an example he set.  This is the attitude we should have wherever we attend of absolute pleasure and giddyness to attend and spend time with our fellow Christ followers and with our God and Savior.

If we are not joyful and excited about getting to church on Sundays, we need to check our attitude.  Look, I will be the first one to admit that there are times when it feels like an absolute drag to get out of bed and get the kids ready, throw on something presentable, and then drive 45 minutes, one way to get to church.  But I should feel honored to live in a country where I can do this in the open;  honored to be serving and worshiping an awesome God (not just on Sundays I might add); honored to be in fellowship with other struggling Christ followers. HONORED and EXCITED!

In other words, losing no time in "getting to the meeting place."


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Coming Home

" 'Yet even now,' declares the Lord, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.' "  Joel 2:12-13 ESV

In life, there are many times we leave friends and family for long periods of time, only to return home with open arms and hugs to those who truly love and care for us.  As humans, we leave the love of our family and friends behind for any number of reasons, both good and bad: business trips, military deployments, college, job offers, and unfortunately sometimes affairs.  But one truth is certain, when we are loved, when we are truly loved, it is so sweet when we return home (literally or emotionally) and are accepted into open arms, no matter how good or bad the circumstances are.

I was reading this passage from Joel the other day and this sentiment rang so true with me:  God, my Savior and Creator, has been calling me back into relationship with Him.  This relationship is like no other I can have on earth.  There is an unconditional love in this relationship that I will never find with any human, no matter how much my wife, parents, kids or friends love me.  There is a bond I have had with God to which He also yearns and calls to me for.  God wants to be in my life and love me, no matter how far I run from Him in the good times and bad, or no matter how much I deny Him as his disciple Peter once did.  I must say that I miss Him too.  I miss the connection I once had with God. 

I must caution anyone reading this that I am not looking for the mountain top experience, the rush of love and acceptance once felt by two people who love each other.  What I am looking for is something far greater than that.  This is what my relationship with Christ looks like:

Its ugly, and not because of my God, but because of me.  Its ugly because I sit here and fight and bloody up this relationship through my constant yearnings that are not those of God.  Its a bond where I struggle to get over my own selfish desires and truly listen for the promptings and teachings of the one who saved me.  Its a knock down drag out fight some days because I feel as though I should zig, and God is gently pushing me to zag. Its a conversation where he firmly, yet lovingly tells me where I am falling short for him, yet I can question Him on why I think he is falling short for me.  Funny thing is, he never falls short for me- I fall short for me when I leave him..........and then I come open arms.

God loves you and he loves me.  When will we come home?


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Kneel to Down to Stand Up

"Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet." James 4:10 MSG

Ever wonder this: "Why do we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?"  The words seem out of place in context with one another.  But in their intended use, everything works out. 

This passage from James is the same.  So that we can stand on our feet as Christ followers, we have to get on our knees and pray.  That means spending time with God, which is exactly what He wants.  Spending time with someone implies getting into relationship with them. You cannot talk to anyone without having some sort of relationship, whether good or bad.  In short, all God wants is our attention (prayer) and to be in relationship with him (be authentic).

It's a lesson I learn all the time and must remind myself of: my God wants my attention and authenticity.  Being human means I won't always get it right, but I must re-align my priorities and remind myself of what's most important. 


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Our Faith Day

".....He's been raised up; he's no longer here......." Mark 16:6 MSG

Today is the day we celebrate the most important day of our Christian faith.  Today we celebrate the restoration of life through Jesus Christ.  Our faith is nothing without what today symbolizes.  It is meaningless.  We are then just Jewish ourselves, or another religion that doesn't mean much to the world.  But we are a part of something awesome!

Through the events of this day, our sin is covered if we just believe. The old convenant is smashed and the new one established; one that requires only our belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Son of Man, the confession of our sin, and the new creation of a loving heart within us.  God will live in us just as he lived in His Son on this day over 2000 years ago. 

Believe, Seek, Live. 


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lead or Follow

"Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls....."  Heb 13:17 ESV

.......But please, please don't just sit there and complain.  Leaders don't complain, they serve.  Followers don't complain but do as they are asked respectfully.  Complainers only live to serve themselves and get THEIR way.  They have no intention of leading with their words and actions and they have no intention of "standing idly by"  while someone else takes THEIR glory away.  Its all about them and not the team or direction of the team.

I am not here to brag about my leadership abilities, but I want to tell you a story about leadership from my time in Air Force.  Its was a hot day in the AZ desert.  The technicians were out slaving away on the A-10s assigned to our unit as myself and another young officer sat in the nice air conditioned office discussing a problem we were having with a certain maintenance action.  The techs were not following the proper procedures and we were having problems with something (I can't quite remember).  I was about to go outside and begin to work through the procedure with some of the techs to see where the deficiency was in either the process, or how they were performing the action.  Out of left field, I am told that I don't need to go through that to understand what it takes to do this procedure.  What?  This just did not compute with me since I had been doing engine changes, gun changes, parts swaps and the like for over a year now to try and understand the intricate life of a maintenance technician in the field.  I was one of their leaders and superior officers, but I was far from superior in my understanding of what needed to be done to make flying happen everyday.  In the end I let my temper get the best of me as this other officer and I went at it in fine verbal fashion for over a half an hour.  His side: we only need to know how it's done to lead them.  My side: get your butt out of the AC, onto the flightline, and get into their life to understand better what it really takes to lead them. 

What I'm saying is this:  Leaders are servants more than their followers, and followers are leaders by their ability to listen, understand, and follow the direction and vision of their leaders.  Too many times in the church, there are people trying to be the chief, and not enough people to be the indians.  Some want to serve with their words, yet not move their feet to action.  Some want to watch from a distance and shout orders while others do the dirty work and get into the nastiness that is our lives today.

It's not enough just talk............actions speak louder than words.........but words can be like nails down a chalkboard when there is nothing but hot air behind them. 

#5:  Lead or follow, but don't complain.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Ministry Rat Poison

"Don't talk about your neighbors behind their backs- No slander or gossip, please." Proverbs 24:28 MSG

Can anyone tell me the number one killer of any church or ministry?  It's not hard to guess from the verse. GOSSIP.  There is nothing in the world that can kill a ministry quicker than people talking about one another behind each other's backs.  After the dust settles from the big demise, a leader who allows gossip in their ministry will be looking around and speaking the immortal words of Socrates when he said, "I drank what?"

I have seen gossip tear churches to pieces.  I have seen gossip tear families apart.  And , I am sad to say, I have caught myself participating in gossip at times.  But, it was a man named Hal Mayer who taught me a key lesson in any minstry or church:  if you have a problem with someone, don't talk about it with anyone else but that person.  Once its resolved, you still should not talk to anyone about it.

Here is what I try to do when I hear someone going on and on about someone else:  "Have you talked with them about this?" If the answer is no then its time for me to exit stage left.  I tell them to go take it up with who they are refering to.  If they have a problem with that, then they have no back bone.

Here is how I feel about gossip now:  If you can't say what's on your mind to someone's face, then I don't need to hear it either. Shut up and move on with life.  If you really have to get it out, go talk to a tree or scream it out in your car alone.  Don't drag others down with you......

If there is a gossip in your minstry/church, confront them.  If they don't listen, ask them to leave.  If they won't leave, remove them. It's that simple.  Would you allow someone to slowly and knowingly poison you or your immediate family?  Then why allow it with your church family? 


Monday, March 26, 2012

Love God, Love Others, and Go

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30, 31 NIV)

This is going to be short and sweet, because Jesus was short and sweet about: these are the foundations of our faith. Jesus laid it all out there: Love God, Love Others.

We love God and others through the Great Commission.

When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:17-20 NIV)

I had a great discussion with a good friend of mine who really believes the Bible is just stories, written by man who is fallible, so the Bible is fallible. It's okay with me that he doubts and doesn't believe. It's not my position to argue or convince, it's my position to love, understand, have an open mind for others hearts, and then begin the process of planting through love, understanding and relationship. God does the work in someone, not me. I am just the conduit. Anything more and I put myself equal to God. Not cool.

So #3: Love God, Love Others and what He asks you too.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Skipping the Rock

A few weeks ago, I came up with a list of about 10 things to live life by.  I was at a loss for some guidelines I wanted to set for myself, so what better way than the proverbial Top 10 list. Right?  Yesterday I posted about doing our best, preparing for the worst, and trusting that God will come through for us in ALL aspects of our lives.  Well, I figured I would continue for the next 9 days and post the rest.  (These will not be posted in any order of importance)

".....He straightened up and said, 'The sinless one among you, go first: throw the stone." John 8:7 MSG

The other day, my wife and I took our sons on our first so called "Family Vacation." It was short and sweet, but a whole heckuva lot of fun for us and the boys, minus the allergies and one missed event that I will admit was my fault.  On day 2, we stopped by the river in Smoky Mountain National Park and took the boys down to the river's edge to just check out the water.  While there, we saw many smooth river rocks that we started skipping across the rushing waters.  Being near a bridge, my oldest though it would be funny to "skip" rocks off the metal bridge spars because is sounded cool. But, the cars going over the bridge wouldn't like that (thank you God there were none driving by when he threw the rocks). But I noticed something about the ones he threw at the bridge:  in a wadded handful like a shotgun blast, some of those rocks would come bouncing back.  If not careful, they were going to hit him.

Here is my point:  Jesus taught us, in a very vivid way, not to throw river rocks at bridges in the Smoky Mountain National Park. Why? Because they just might come back and hit us.  In this passage from John, the Pharisees have brought a women caught in the act of sleeping with someone else's husband.  They want to trap him in saying something against the law of Moses which allows for stoning of someone caught in adultery. But he turns the table on them and makes them look within themselves at their own sin.

Here, God is not specifically saying there will be backlash from our condemnation, but that we must not throw that rock unless we can call ourselves sinless when we do.  Otherwise, we better be ready for the ricochet.  If we want to judge someone for their sins, we must be ready to be judged for ours.  Its that simple. Its easy to point out other's sins; it's much harder to point out our own.

If you throw the rocks at the bridge, be ready when some of them come back.  It WILL hurt.


Do, Prepare, and Trust

"Do your best, prepare for the worst-then trust God to bring victory."  Proverbs 21:31 MSG

I often wonder what doing my best looks like? Does it look like 14 hour days just to scrape out a meager paycheck?  What about volunteering for anything and everything at church?  Or even further, does it look like running around trying to serve everyone else in an effort to "work" my way to heaven?

I wonder the same about what the worst looks like and how to prepare for it. Living in a van down by the river?.........Our government falls apart and our country collapses?.........We are truly unsaved because of our heart, and not the way we presented ourself to other believers?

Proverbs is the most prolific book of wisdom ever written.  Here is what God has laid upon my heart after reading this passage over and over today: 

"Do your best...." everything you do, but your best must be in harmony (not balance, which means everything has equal measure) with all other aspects of life.  Christ displayed harmony in life in all that he did.  He did his best to serve His Father and others, but he harmonized that with the rest of his life and the ultimate vision for his life......God's vision.

".....prepare for the worst........"  Who cares about the end of the US or any other country.  We will survive and persavere.  Who cares about money or retirement or success?  In the end, they become our idols. Preparing for the worst means checking your will the worst affect you?  This leads to the last part of this verse.

".....then trust in God to bring victory.".........Doing and preparing lead to trust.  Trust leads to calm, contentment, and joy in life.  Joy leads to service beyond ourselves and an overwhelming sense of gratitude for where we are, what we are going through, and why we are going through it, good or bad.

God's purpose is beyond anything we can fathom.  The world tells us differently.  Do, prepare and trust.  Its imperative.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Beg for Forgiveness

Dear Ben,

I am writing this letter because God has laid it on my heart to beg your forgiveness. It's been a long time since we have even really talked. We were friends in high school, but have lost touch since your gave me the letter. I really don't remember what you wrote in the letter. What I do remember is my reaction........and it was wrong. I was young and stupid and you never deserved the cold shoulder I gave you.

Many years later, I have seen your success, I have secretly been pulling for your success in life, I have watched your success unfold on public TV, and now I want you to know that I love you as a friend and wish you the most in life.

You never deserved the way I treated you. You never deserved the shame I might have put you through. You never deserved what other people may have done to you in your life. What you do deserve is my respect and admiration for the awesome person you are. You deserve to know that my faith in Christ means I do not turn my back on anyone, despite the fact I may not agree with your decisions in life or the lifestyle you choose. I now ask myself how I can judge someone else's sins without judging my own first?

Ben, you are a special person, created by God and living the path you have chosen. It was not my place to turn my back. It was my place to be there for you through the tough times. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me Ben. I pray for you everyday and now I pray you will forgive me for the actions of a young and stupid kid.

I wish you all the best in life and will be looking for you in the spotlight again, praying for your success and hoping you will come to know the true love of God that i know, and not the distorted one of the media and the bigots.

Once your friend and begging for your forgiveness,
Jeremiah (aka Freak)