In Defense of Judas

Oh, we hate Judas.

What a thieving, evil betrayer.

He took what he had learned about Jesus and only wanted to use it for self-advancement.  He stole from what belonged to others when given the responsibility of taking care of others.  And when it all came crashing down, he chose suicide over repentance.

What a loser!

As pastors, leaders, teachers in the church, we would never let our ideas, our goals supersede His.  We would never use our positions to get what we want at the expense of others.  We would never cling to our will when it was obvious that our will was wrong.  We would never choose to give up rather than repent.

Yeah….

And another thing, did you ever notice how Satan will use you to do something bad (and yes we do get to choose).  Then, after we have failed, he casts us off.  He shouts out the accusations, brings on the shame and guilt.

What would it feel like to know that you had sentenced the son of God to a horrible, painful death?  Would I be able to repent?

Lord, I repent right now.  I have betrayed you and wanted me more than you.  I have been angry and depressed because I put my life above yours.  I have despaired, brought death and guilt on me and my family.  Satan will not have his way in my home.  I will not have my way in this home.

You are Lord.

A Mile High

I’m way up in the air right now.

I’m not talking about physically.  Well, ok, I am flying over what appears to be the Carribean and parts of Mexico or maybe that’s the Pacific.  

I don’t really know.  I’m not sure I care.

I’m looking down on the bluest water you’ve ever seen with tiny puffballs of clouds doting the sky.  We’ll soon be landing in Panama ending the second leg of our journey to Nicaragua.  We’ll then launch our ministry into the heart of the capital beginning the end of satan’s tyranny over this country.

Oh, I’m flying alright.  God’s presence is surrounding us in these cramped, little airline seats.  The heat is already kicking in as the fire in my soul begins to blaze.

In this moment, I see the man I am, the husband I’ve been, the father, the friend.  I see my failing prayers for what they are and my life for what it has been.

And I know I can do better, be better, love more.

But this airplane will land.  I’ll meet the ground again and life will go back to normal.

Ah, but will it?

See, my God (oh I love those words), MY GOD can do anything.  

My God can crush this heart of stone.

My God can heal.  My God can restore.

My God can awaken the warrior in me.

And then what? 

Oh, I won’t be flying.  I will still not know exactly where I am or how I’ll reach my destination.

I just know I’m coming for my freedom and joy.  I’m coming for my family.

And destroyer, thief, killer, I’m coming after you.

Job’s Failure

The story of Job (pronounced with an oh sound for those who haven’t heard it), is familiar to many.  The man who was wealthy, then accused by Satan, rebuked by friends and then God, but ultimately restored and honored.

Much of what is written in this book is absolute truth.  Some of it is not.  

Job is joined, after being ruined and covered with boils, by three friends who try to help him by letting him know that if he will repent of his sins, God can restore him.  Job often returns to the idea of God’s goodness, His love for those who follow Him.

But God eventually calls Job out, basically saying, “Who do you think you are?”  And Job apologizes.

The failure that Job experienced, the untruth that he held on to and the false accusations that his friends brought against him all are based on one strong misconception that we see in our own hearts today.

GOD WILL LEAVE YOU!

Job thought that God had come against him, that he was being accused and destroyed by God’s hand and anger.  He wanted the chance to show that he was righteous and that God hated him for no reason.

Job’s friends thought there was a reason.  They thought that God had abandoned him because of sin in Job’s life.  They were absolutely sure that there had to be something that Job did to make God come against him.

Neither of them were correct, and these ideas are wrong still today.

When Adam and Eve fell, God never left them.  Through the time of Noah, God never abandoned His creation.  Though He turned the nation of Israel over to exile and near annihilation.  He never gave up on them.  There was always, and will always be a plan for restoration and healing, even when we have abandoned Him.

Maybe sin, past failures, current confusion have you thinking that God is done with you.  Satan loves for God to look bad, mean, vengeful.  But the truth is that Satan is bad, mean, vengeful, hating and accusing the people of God.

I believe in the inerrancy of scripture.  But, whether through the limitations of our language or the limitations of our perspective, we often misinterpret the word of God to show how He will hurt us if we don’t obey, how He’s just waiting for us to mess up so He can zap us. 

He promises through Jesus that He will never leave us nor forsake us.  That has always been His heart.

ALWAYS!

Angry, tired and frustrated

I had all sorts of great titles running through my head this morning but they wouldn’t have been honest.

I have been sick for the past week.  Suffering from vertigo, looking at perhaps a long recovery time.  Hearing the words I’ve written to others but not feeling them, not believing them.  Remembering the dreams and hopes that I laid down, taking them back off the altar and wanting so bad for them to come true.

So, this morning I face a new day.  I am debilitated.  I weigh too much.  I am so out of shape and so far from what God designed me for.

A light breaks over my heart right now, in this moment.  It is the backdrop for the cross in my life.  Will I pick it up again?  Will I deny myself and follow Him?  I’ve seen too much, been through too much to believe that my will can accomplish anything good.  I struggle and fume, maybe this time, maybe I’ll win.

Satan throws at me every self-made man, every wealthy success story.  Those who have the cars, the house, the power position.  He lets me know what he offers.

And I reject it.

I want to be the hero of my own story.  I want to be the one who submitted his will so fully to Jesus that He has only to nudge and I’m there, He has only to call and I’ll answer.  I want to be the one who lays everything down and lets JESUS shine through.

That’s a life worth living.

No Victory Here

Anyone who follows me, do you find yourself wondering if I messed up . . .

Again. . .

Doesn’t bother me.  I would be thinking the same thing.  Knowing what I know about humanity and our capacity for making huge claims and blowing it.  Knowing what I know about myself, my utter stupidity and huge rebellious streak.

My enemy, our enemy, knows our weaknesses too.  He sees my failures over the years.  He reminds me of them daily.  He points out my flaws, my shortcomings, my shame.

But I have a King.  How amazing to know that I have a King, a Hero,  a Savior that has chosen to twist my life into the threads and fabric of His kingdom.

His name is Jesus.  THE Prince of Peace!  THE GREAT I AM!

My freedom, my life, my victory is already secured.

The idea that I can be defeated.  The belief that, because of me, I will be a failure.  The hope that satan and his hosts cling to, that I will fall.

No.

You will have no victory here.

http://youtu.be/nZiiW2tLxEU

Nothing to Fear

Interesting thing, the concept of fear.  English is limited in its expression of this word.  In French, we use two words.  “craindre” and “peur”.  

The first signifies a respectful fear, demonstrated by the verses in Proverbs that say, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  It carries the idea of special treatment, an understanding of spiritual, physical, mental relationships that make the object of our “fear” something different than ourselves.

Think rabid dog, lion on the Serengeti, dad when you’ve wrecked the car.

The second term is closer to our word terror.  It is not about understanding, it is unreasonable, uncontrolled.

Think horror movies, phobias, bogey men.

“For our God did not give us a spirit of timidity (fear), but of power and love and of a sound mind.”

When Paul penned these words to Timothy, he was speaking words of encouragement to a timid young man.  Over the years we have come to look at it as saying God does not want us to fear anything.  The words in scripture that speak of God’s love, His presence, His power and majesty are many, and where our focus should rest.

But…

I was praying and apologizing for words I had spoken that were meant as warning but were taken as terrorizing.  I want the former, never the latter.  God then reminded me that He put words of “fear” in scripture too.

“For our adversary, the devil, is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

We should never be in “peur” of satan.  He was defeated, eternally, at the cross.  We are free, Spirit filled, powerful.  We should always understand that we are in a fight for our lives, a fight for the lives of those we love.  It is not pretend.  It is not churchy hell, fire and brimstone.  It is war.  It is bloody.

There’s a difference between courageous and fearless. 

Consider the Following

People
People (Photo credit: Viewminder)

1.  My thoughts, my actions, my replies, my joys, my hurts, do they mirror my Jesus or my world?  Next time you see something bad happening, something you react strongly to, consider your response and see if it looks and sounds like Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mountain Lake
Mountain Lake (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

2.  Despite what political pundits, doomsayers, rebels and rappers say, what do you see when you look at the world?  I’m not a pollyanna.  I don’t believe in the “power of positive thinking.”  But, I do believe in a God who is King of kings and Lord of Lords.  He is not thwarted by bombs or laws.  He remains unchanged despite all human agendas and natural catastrophes.  He does not bow to the greatest leaders of any era or bear the commands of any power in the universe.  But, they do bow to Him.  And He is good.  HE IS GOOD!  His love endures forever.  He can be trusted.  And He has put so many beautiful things here for us.  Do I see them?  Am I even looking for them?

 

 

Cross & Clouds
Cross & Clouds (Photo credit: John H Wright Photo)

3.  When things go wrong, when I fail, when all seems lost, where do you run?  And, I do mean run, move quickly, pursue without a thought for the consequences or repercussions.  We all run somewhere.  Alcohol, romance, pornography, work, music, drugs, church, Jesus, gods, Satan, hate, bitterness, the list goes on.  All places to run to where we demand, we make proclamations, we decide the outcome.  Oh yes, you can run to Jesus with the idea of Him making you feel better.  You can go to church to get your fix of feel good. What we are called to is the cross.  We are told to bring everything, our desires, our hopes and dreams, our failings, our lives and lay them at His feet, lay them at His cross.  “I am crucified with Christ and I know longer live…”  A shout of triumph over all that would hold us, all that would enslave us.  But we seldom go there when we feel lost and defeated.  We rarely look to that serpent lifted up when the poison of this life has entered our veins.  But we can.  We must.

 

 

“Daybreak” by Matthew Hawkins is available at smashwords.com.  Click on this link to learn more and to order:

 

 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/384362

 

 

I Am a Saint

Could I share with you all the thoughts that run through my mind?  Would you hear me and know me better if you could see the murder, the depravity that wells up inside of me on a daily basis.  I think not.  I lead worship and pray with men.  I am overcome by God’s presence and His power in my life.  I talk with Him, hear His voice, walk with Him through my days.  But still fail and struggle and wrestle and whine and pout and ….

Satan whispers in my ear, shouts to my heart, “You are a loser.  You will never matter.  Your life does not and will not make a difference to anyone.  When you die, you will simply disappear and no one will mourn your passing or notice your absence.”  He goes on for a while and I’ll not bore you with all that he says.  But understand, it is a lie.

Does he say things like this to you?  Does his voice of condemnation crush you with its lying truths?  Do you see in yourself the hopelessness of your life and know that you have failed.

Good.  We all need to be humbled from time to time.

Now, stand up.  Put on your armor.  Lift up your sword.  Shout out this battle cry.

“I AM A SAINT!!!”

“GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN ME THAN HE THAT IS IN THE WORLD”

We are His children, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.  We are not condemned for our sins were paid for on the cross of Jesus Christ.  We stand covered by His blood, washed clean, filled with the Holy Spirit.  Warriors of the cross that live victorious who overcome the evil one by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.  This is truth.  This is the reality that cannot be removed or shaken by anything other than our unwillingness to believe it.

I AM A SAINT

Time Away

“It’s like a marriage.”  She looked at me and said, “sometimes you just need to get away from each other.”

At the time I was neither married nor given in marriage and my prospects looked dim but somehow what she said sounded so wrong.  For me, the idea of once getting a wife seemed so amazing that I thought I’d never let her out of my sight.  Why would you willingly choose to spend time away from your hearts desire, the love of your life?  It was akin to saying, “I just need some time away from my brain.”  Now after 23 years of marriage, I think I’m right.

But, of course, she was talking about time away from God.  Her attempt was to logically explain why sin is so important to the believers continued relationship with God.  The idea being that as we take time away from God to do our own thing, to “live a little,” it makes the disciplines and rigors of Christianity more bearable, more attainable.  It makes me shudder to think of what married life turned out to be for this person (she wasn’t married at the time either). 

But we all fall into this mentality from time to time.  If I just do this one sin, this one, “going my own way,” then I’ll feel better, calm down enough to stand for Jesus.  “I just can’t take anymore of this temptation.  If I give in this one time, that will get Satan and my flesh off my back and they won’t bother me anymore.” 

I know you’ve never put it in those terms.  I haven’t either but my actions reveal the truth.

But there was a nugget in what she said.  Our relationship with Jesus is like a marriage.  And just like a marriage we don’t need time away FROM our spouse, we need time away WITH our spouse.  We need daily time to talk over what is happening, to plan for what is coming, to pay the bills and talk about the kids.  We need time to tell them how beautiful they still are and how much we still care.  They need to know that we would give up everything for them, lay down our lives for them.  And we need to hear what they have to say, to know their heart, their mind, get reconnected.

Doesn’t happen by chance.  Doesn’t happen easily or naturally for most of us.  We have to make it happen.  Want it bad enough that we make it happen.  Everyday.

The War

Worship is an act of war.  It is an offensive weapon and a defensive shield.  It is our shout from the battlements that taunts our enemy as well as the cheer that arises in the midst of our battles.  It is not about entertainment or warm fuzzies.  True worship will always ellicit a response from our King, from our brothers and sisters, and from our foes.

So why do we think it should always feel good?  Why do we consider it an option to whether I worship or not?  This is akin to standing on the battle field, letting our weapon hang by our side and hoping that no one will shoot at us.  We further hope that by not fighting, not picking a side in the melee, that we will somehow feel better and more equipped to fight another day.  For those who have never been to war and need some clarification, taking this stance only assures that you will not survive to SEE another day.

Understand that I hear you.  “I am wounded.  I am hurt.  I am tired.  I can’t do it anymore.”  All cries familiar to the war.  “I can’t see.  I have no more ammunition.  I am scared.  I am dying.”  All have been heard many times, along with the unarticulated, guttural screams of fear and pain.  But that is where deeper consideration of the heart of the enemy comes into play.   Because you are wounded, will he cease shooting at you?  Because you are hurt, will the demons give you a break.  Because you are tired, will your flesh give you strength to rise again?  No, no, no!!!!

In a battle, there are no breaks.  When the bullets fly, you cannot rest.  When you are wounded, beat up, tired, discouraged, there are no other options than to keep on fighting.

And all the while, you will hear Satan, the accuser, shouting in your head, “You CAN’T win!”  But, my brothers, my sisters, he is wrong.  Fight and you will see the truth that, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)”  And I don’t mean, John didn’t mean, a little greater.  The God who has taken up residence inside of me, inside of you, is greater by far than anything, anything that can come against you.

So pick up your sword soldier.  Lift up your shield of faith.  Believe in the one who lives inside of you and fight.  Fight for your church, your friends and neighbors.  Fight for your family!  Fight for your God.