Bad Reputation

Insert Joan Jett video here.

I’ve heard multiple people how they were in line or walking down the street or some such scenario.  In the story they run across some foul-mouthed person (probably worked in a factory or paper mill) and they set them straight.  That language offends me or my children or a lady or something.

I keep thinking about that idea in the face of our current world situation and I’m trying to figure out how to justify it.

Right now, our world is crying out.  So many are afraid. So many angry, depressed, lost. We calling on the government, on health organizations, on doctors to save us.

They aren’t calling on Christians.

The reputation that we have is one of judgment, condemnation, short-sightedness, stupidity, well, you get the idea.

And on the part of many Christians, we want to point them to Jesus, to the bible as the answer to the world’s problems.

I don’t know about you, but I get the feeling He’s pointing the finger back at me.

We get this mystical idea that He’ll move in world events, change the heart of the president, sway the vote, remove the sickness, eliminate sin and poverty.

That’s not actually how He tends to work.

Oh sure, He CAN! But…

He invaded the earth. His Spirit invaded the budding church. And He left! But He left His Spirit in us.

This leaves me short of breath, heart pounding. That means when He said ‘go’, He meant me. When He said He would be with me, it was AS I was going.

So I need to GO!

We may have a bad reputation. But if we go, with the love of Jesus burning bright inside us, maybe we can shine it up a bit.

Jesus Wins

I have felt such heartbreak over things in this world.  Suffering, human trafficking, divorce, pornography, wars, racism…

How long, oh Lord?

I listened to a song yesterday.  It is one of my all-time favorites.  And I needed the reminder.

See, Jesus isn’t shocked by racism, though it breaks his heart too.  He’s not overwhelmed by the cruelty of man, our propensity for violence and our exploitation of those weaker than ourselves.  His voice is not silenced by the tumult of evil.  His light is not dimmed by the darkness on the horizon.

Remember, oh my soul, He wrote the story.  He placed the characters and set the stage.  His death on the cross culminated in His declaration that, “IT IS FINISHED.”  

So do I live from His victory or do I wonder every day whether the darkness will win.  Will satan ever be able to defeat the church of Jesus, the Holy Spirit inside us, His resurrection power?

Not even remotely!

Jesus wins, has already won.  You can bet your life on it.

Opposite Attraction

I come to this with some fear and trembling.  So do me and your pastor and your family a favor, if you’re not going to read the whole thing, stop here.

Still with me?

Ok, good, let’s move on.

“He’s a coward,” the lie came whispering.  I was thinking about a pastor, one of my pastors, and that is what I thought.  It felt so real, so true.  I felt myself agreeing, believing it.

Now, maybe he isn’t the bravest man alive, but anybody who knows anything about the pastors at my church know that they are not cowards.  Especially when it comes to the Word of God.

So why did I think and start believing what I knew wasn’t true?  Did it make me look better, feel better about my place in life?  Or was it just from the “father of lies?”

Does it matter?

It was a lie.

What is the advantage or who gains an advantage by my belief a lie?  

We get these thoughts from time to time.  In marriage we can get them a lot.  

“He’s a bum.”

“Why did I ever marry her?”

And to these lies, and the ones like them that surround everyone I meet, I like to apply the principle of opposite attraction.

It works like this.

“That pastor is a coward.”  I pray to the opposite.  “God, I thank you for his boldness in standing for you.  I stand with him as he fearlessly lives for you.”

“Why did I marry her?”  The opposite, “thank you for bringing her into my life.”

Here’s the hard part, sometimes it isn’t actually a full out lie.  But make no mistake, a truth that leads us to hate someone is never a complete truth.

“He’s unfaithful.”

“She hates me.”

Oh precious, broken heart, be drawn to the opposite.

“Raise him up to be faithful.  I believe You are working in him to give his heart completely to You.  You are making him a man of God.”

“She is loving and blessed.  I believe You are softening her heart to love despite the hurts she has endured.  You are creating a woman of God who trusts completely in You.”

And in praying to the opposite our hearts can be drawn to the possibility of the opposite.  Our anger and fear dissipate in the presence of the God who says, “all things are possible.”  Our trust is placed in the only one we should ever completely place it in.  And the noise of all the lies diminishes.

Turmoil is replaced by peace.  Depression is replaced by power.

Hate is replaced by love.  

I’m Angry

Oh, we’re all so angry right now.

Trump lovers hate Hillary lovers.  Hillary lovers hate Trump.

We’ve seen this before you know.  Whites hate blacks.  Blacks hate whites.

And we let the hatred fly.

Now we have social media, the press, e-mails, texts, all to let everyone know just how pissed off we are.  We name call and blame, stereotype and vilify.  We are making our point, letting our voice be heard about the injustice of life.

Before it’s too late.  With all my heart I want you to hear, before it’s too late.  We have become a part of the machine of lies.

Trump is not the villain of this story, neither is Hillary.  They are part of all of us.  The power that they wield is limited.  The power that we wield is greater.

Love your neighbor.

It doesn’t matter who they voted for, or if they even voted.  It doesn’t matter what color their skin is or their sexual orientation or their views on ANYTHING!  We are commanded to love them.  COMMANDED!

That means you allow them to say what they want and then respond with love.  It means we see who they are, sin, faults, good and bad, and love them.

And hopefully they will love us too.  Because if they don’t, we get to pick up our cross and follow Him to Calvary.  We get to lay down our lives for another, unworthy soul.  Just like mine.

A hint:  that’s where we’re headed no matter what they choose.

Where do we go from here?

He walked alone from the shop in that part of town that no “good” people talk about.  He watched the movie, looked at the magazines, stared at the pictures on the walls.  And now, he walked alone.  He walked in shame.

Where would you go if you were him?  What would you do now?

I talk to so many people, so many well meaning people, that have a thousand answers for what he should do.  He should give up, it’s just what guys do.  He should find a new relationship that “satisfies” him more.  He should go to church, join a group, pray a prayer, listen to music, think about what he’s doing.  And that’s just a short list.

There are good and helpful things on this list.  There are things that need to be done.  And this doesn’t just apply to guys addicted to porn.

In Exodus, the people of Israel were told to go into the promised land.  But then they heard the spies report.  “There are giants.  We’ll all be killed.”  And the people rebelled and refused to go in.  Then God rebukes them and says they will all, all that rebelled, die in the desert.  Then they’re sorry.  Please forgive us, they say.  We’ll obey you now, they say.  But God told them no.  They went anyway and many died in the battle that occurred.

The long and the short of this problem is that they, and we, are trying to fix ourselves.  Jesus died on the cross to set us free from the power of sin and death.  He came to give us life, “and life more abundant.”  We go our own way and the only solution to the problem is to stop going your own way.

Couples divorce because they fight and there seems no way out.  Teens run away because they hate their parents control and there seems no way out.  And people remain bound to sin because they can not fix themselves.

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Stop making your own decisions.  Stop finding your own way.  Stop listening to every voice that shouts in your ear.  Seek His face.  Seek His will.  Find Him again and let Him choose your paths.  He can heal.  He can restore.  He will help you.

And you’ll know where to go.

Home Alone (The Christian Caper)

What do we do with our moments alone?

I talk to lots of people throughout my day, throughout my week.  Everyone struggling, fighting, kicking, sometimes winning, often losing, worried, harried, stressed.  I am too often right there with the masses.  A big question on everyone’s mind is, “how do I get ahead?”  The lottery is such a draw because it gives an option, it provides a hope that things will not always be so difficult.  We envy those who have made it, questioning their morals, their scruples, what it took for them to achieve their status in our eyes.

It comes down to one question.  What do we do with our moments alone?

The guys who sell their souls and families to pornography, to prostitutes, to drunkenness, these are glaring examples of wasted lives.  The soap operas and gossip columns seem so innocuous as to be laughable in comparison.  Romance novels, eating, bingeing, purging, sports bars, internet, video games, revenge, bitterness, hating, fearing.

What do you do with your time?

See, the bible says that satan comes to “steal, kill and destroy.”  All the things that we do fall into two categories, those things that make us better, those that make us worse.  And even that is often determined by how we process, ingest, the things that we see and hear.  We have a choice with what we put in and we, at certain levels, have a choice about how it will affect us.

But don’t be deluded, satan doesn’t care if you have fun.  He doesn’t bring things so that you feel better.  My flesh doesn’t crave only what makes me better.  He wants you and me destroyed, burned up, broken, ruined, mutilated, bleeding, crushed.  My flesh just wants more self, more, more, more.

Strange that God would provide so many good things by the cross, by our daily taking up our cross.  Satan provides honey glazed, sugar and sprinkle coated cow shit that only was designed to kill us.  My flesh gives me empty cravings that can never be satisfied but leave me more empty, more hollow.

And it all depends on what I do when no one is looking, when no one is around, when no one sees.

I say we set up the booby traps of prayer and fasting.  I say we surround ourselves with others in pursuit of God.  I say we fight till our hearts come under the submission to His will.  I say we make the choice to be who we should be, even when we’re all by ourselves.

Then it will be our turn to say, “You guys give up or are you thirsty for more?”