Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Why is church the first thing to get "cut"?

We can't say we want our kids around positive role models, that we want them to have a Christian peer group, that we want their influences to be focused on Jesus, and that we want the church family to be important to them - and trade youth group activities for sports, Wed nights for dates and homework, Sunday school for extra sleep, and church for ball tournaments. 

Our lives, as parents, are hard, CRAZY, and over scheduled, but when we use our words to tell our kids that our church family is what's most important and then when things get busy and we get tired church family is the first thing we cut.... believe me, they know. They get the message. 

We as parents are the front line for our kids, but we have to surround our kids with additional Christian influences and role models so they can make meaningful relationships with those people we want mentoring them someday when they "need" someone else to turn to other than us. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Parenting, marriage, Christianity.... they're all Hard.

Parenting is hard. 

Marriage is hard. 

Christianity is hard. 

Truth be told, Anyone who tells you differently is lying or has something to sell.  

The "life is easy", "God just wants you to be Happy", "marriage is always bliss", "parenting is only wonderful", "prosperity gospel" theologies are all lies from the very pit of hell.

You want to know what parenting, marriage, and Christianity all have in common?  They All require selfish, egotistical, self centered people (ie all of humanity) to act in a way completely contrary to their very nature.  In parenting, marriage, and Christianity we are required to put other's thoughts, feelings, emotions, wants, and needs ahead of our own. Period.  

"Yeah, but They deserve" grace.
"They're not even sorry!" forgive them anyway.
"They started it" and you can end it.
"They hurt me so bad" don't pass it on (or back)

I don't know about you (actually... I think I do) but I'm pretty terrible at this. 
Loving those who hate me is not my strong suit.  Showing patience to a disobedient child isn't "blissful".  Putting my wife's feelings ahead of mine when I don't think she's putting mine ahead of her's isn't "bliss" (though I assure you those roles are typically reversed I'm sure).  Being the light in a dark world when my nature is either to throw darkness back or to take my little candle and go huddle up in the corner by myself is not easy.  Or natural.  or easy.  or easy.  or easy.


God loves you anyway. Love people anyway. People love you anyway. Love yourself anyway.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Sometimes you just need to Retreat... to breathe, to escape, run away, be still, be quiet, hide.  In order to RETREAT one is in dire need of restoration, to gain said restoration one must escape from the world and all the stress and distractions of routine and take time to recharge.  Exalt the Father, give praise to God, cast your worries, your cares, and your fears on Him and allow him to heal you.  Finally, remember that a thankful heart is a joyful heart and thankful soul is a soul at peace.  

Let's explore what it looks like to truly _Retreat_

I.                                      Restore
to bring back into existence; reestablish
to bring back to a former, original, or normal condition
to bring back to a state of health, soundness, or vigor.
to reproduce or reconstruct in the original state.

Psalm 51:10-12
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
   and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
   or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
   and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Isaiah 57:18-19
18 I have seen their ways, but I will heal them;
   I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners,
 19 creating praise on their lips.
Peace, peace, to those far and near,”
   says the LORD. “And I will heal them.” 

II.       Escape

to slip or get away, as from confinement or restraint; gain or gain liberty
to slip away from pursuit or peril; avoid capture, or any threatened evil.
to slip away; fade: The words escaped from memory.

Psalm 55:4-8
 4 My heart is in anguish within me;
   the terrors of death have fallen on me.
5 Fear and trembling have beset me;
   horror has overwhelmed me.
6 I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
   I would fly away and be at rest.
7 I would flee far away
   and stay in the desert;[c]
8 I would hurry my escape to a place of shelter,
   far from the tempest and storm.”

Psalm 71
 1 In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;
   let me never be put to shame.
2 In your righteousness, rescue me and help me escape - deliver me;
   turn your ear to me and save me.
3 Be my rock of refuge,
   to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
   for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
   from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.
 5 For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD,
   my confidence since my youth.
6 From birth I have relied on you;
   you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
   I will ever praise you.
7 I have become a sign to many;
   you are my strong refuge.
8 My mouth is filled with your praise,
   declaring your splendor all day long.
 9 Do not cast me away when I am old;
   do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
10 For my enemies speak against me;
   those who wait to kill me conspire together.
11 They say, “God has forsaken him;
   pursue him and seize him,
   for no one will rescue him.”
12 Do not be far from me, my God;
   come quickly, God, to help me.
13 May my accusers perish in shame;
   may those who want to harm me
   be covered with scorn and disgrace.
 14 As for me, I will always have hope;
   I will praise you more and more.
 15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
   of your saving acts all day long—
   though I know not how to relate them all.
16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign LORD;
   I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
17 Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
   and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
18 Even when I am old and gray,
   do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
   your mighty acts to all who are to come.
 19 Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
   you who have done great things.
   Who is like you, God?
20 Though you have made me see troubles,
   many and bitter,
   you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
   you will again bring me up.
21 You will increase my honor
   and comfort me once more.
 22 I will praise you with the harp
   for your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
   Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
   when I sing praise to you—
   I whom you have delivered.
24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
   all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
   have been put to shame and confusion.

III.           Time

Psalm 46
 1 God is our refuge and strength,
   an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
   and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
   and the mountains quake with their surging.
 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
   the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
   God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
   he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
 7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress.
 8 Come and see what the LORD has done,
   the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
   to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
   he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, Be still, and know that I am God;
   I will be exalted among the nations,
   I will be exalted in the earth.”
 11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Sounds like meditation, which I do think is important, but this actually Isn’t about meditation as we often think of it.  First off:  is “be still” a suggestion?
“be still” is “rapha” which means –to be weak, or to let go, to release all control- so “be still” says “force yourself to let go” or “make yourselves become weak”
Why?  Well, “and” in this case means “so” or “in order to”.  So, in effect, what we have is “make yourselves become weak in order to know God”
It’s an instructional statement for finding peace.
Exodus 14:14
14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

IV.    Recharge

to revive or restore energy, stamina, enthusiasm; revitalize

Be Still.  Spread out, you can take Bible, pen and paper, or Nothing.  Pray.  Reflect.  Talk.  LISTEN. Thank.

Exodus 14:14
14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

V.            Exalt

to raise in rank, honor, power, character, quality. elevate:
to praise; extol:
to elate, as with pride or joy.

Psalm 19
14 May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 21:13 Be exalted, O LORD, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power
Psalm 34
3 Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
let us exalt his name together.

Psalm 66
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
Your enemies cringe before your mighty power.
4 Everything on earth will worship you;
they will sing your praises,
shouting your name in glorious songs.”

Psalm 96
3 Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.
Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.

Psalm 107
2 Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!
Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.
Psalm 99
 1 The LORD reigns,
   let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
   let the earth shake.
2 Great is the LORD in Zion;
   he is exalted over all the nations.
3 Let them praise your great and awesome name—
   he is holy.
 4 The King is mighty, he loves justice—
   you have established equity;
in Jacob you have done
   what is just and right.
5 Exalt the LORD our God
   and worship at his footstool;
   he is holy.
 6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
   Samuel was among those who called on his name;
they called on the LORD
   and he answered them.
7 He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud;
   they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.
 8 LORD our God,
   you answered them;
you were to Israel a forgiving God,
   though you punished their misdeeds.[a]
9 Exalt the LORD our God
   and worship at his holy mountain,
   for the LORD our God is holy.
Isaiah 25
 1 LORD, you are my God;
   I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
   you have done wonderful things,
   things planned long ago. 
1 corinthians 15:31
31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Galations 2:20
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Romans 12
A Living Sacrifice
 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

VI.     Allow

Philippians 1:6
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

VII.         Thanks

Psalm 48:1
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised

Psalm 96:4
For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.

Psalm 107:1
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Psalm 145:3
Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.

1 Chronicles 16:25
For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.

Isaiah 53
 1 Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this?
 2-6The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
   a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
   nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
   a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
   We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
   our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
   that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
   that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
   Through his bruises we get healed.
We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost.
   We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong,
   on him, on him.
 7-9He was beaten, he was tortured,
   but he didn't say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
   and like a sheep being sheared,
   he took it all in silence.
Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
   and did anyone really know what was happening?
He died without a thought for his own welfare,
   beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked,
   threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he'd never hurt a soul
   or said one word that wasn't true.
 10Still, it's what God had in mind all along,
   to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
   so that he'd see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
   And God's plan will deeply prosper through him.
 11-12Out of that terrible travail of soul,
   he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
   will make many "righteous ones,"
   as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly—
   the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch,
   because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
   he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Christianity: You're doing it wrong.

Find me an example in scripture where Jesus yelled at, chastised, condemned, or even spoke anything but love to a sinner?  Where does Jesus take a nonbeliever doing something wrong and rake them over the coals (a whip, maybe....)?

"Don't emasculate my Jesus!"
On the contrary, Jesus was a formidable figure (you know... God), in your face, stand his ground, and down right antagonistic at times.  But you know who he was that way with?  THE RELIGIOUS PEOPLE for acting like idiots towards everyone else!
It was when disciples wanted to be more important than they were, when they wanted to make things about them, or when religious people started pointing fingers at others, not associating with sinners, condemning people (even when it would seem obvious that they were safe in doing so) that Jesus got angry and "preachy".

The Samaritan woman at the well (John 4)?  This was someone who religious people wouldn't be caught dead talking to.  Jewish people would trek miles out of their way just so they didn't even have to set foot in the same town as "dirty Samaritans".  Jesus makes a point to blow as many social rules away that he can in this encounter and then addresses this woman, who has had 5 husbands and is now living with another man who's not even one of her 5 husbands, with LOVE and grace.
Did you catch the part in the story where Jesus nails her on being an adulterer?  No?  Well, he sure put her on blast for 5 divorces!
No?  Nothing?  Nothing.
He showed her love and another way -- That a new, better life was available was what was important, not punishment for the current or the past.  When one sees love, mercy, forgiveness, grace, and abundant life, they don't need to be condemned for the prison they've been living in, they WANT that new life, they desperately need that Good News.

Then there's the adulteress woman in John 8.  She was caught in the act of adultery.  That would be bad now, I don't have to tell you what it was like 2,000 years ago.  Jesus protects her, points out that everyone in the crowd that's accusing her (religious people) are in the same boat, and then he tells her "hey, where did everybody go?  Is no one going to condemn you?  Then neither do I.  Go and sin no more"  Take the new life!
You see, in this instance, the crowd wanted to condemn her but couldn't, Jesus had had the authority, to condemn her ("he who is without sin cast the first stone") but didn't.

Jesus says "A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so should you love one another.  By this all people will know you are my disciples:  by the way you love one another"

"Let him who is without sin cast the first stone"

"What good is it to love those who love you back?  THE WORST OF PEOPLE DO THAT."

"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you"

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God Is Love."

"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults - unless, of course, you want the same treatment.  That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.  It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.  Do you have the nerve to say 'let me wash your face for you' when your own face is distorted by contempt?  It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part.  Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to you neighbor"

"blessed are the meek... blessed are the merciful....blessed are the peacemakers"

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful."

On.  And on.  And on.

There seems to be a theme here....

So, if your "Christianity" forces you to hate someone, calls on you to judge someone by pointing out how awful they are, gives you authority to condemn, has you angrily yelling at people of the world, has you praying for ill will or destruction of someone, demands that you not forgive someone because it would compromise your moral obligations as a Christian, frees you to not love Anyone, or makes you a better Christian for not associating with a certain group of people,
then, brothers and sisters, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

Is there such thing as sin?  Of course.  Are we, as broken, imperfect, sinning Christians called to live differently?  You bet.  That's why Jesus held his disciples to such high standards-because they knew better.  The world, the ones who didn't yet know Christ, can not be held to the standards of Jesus Christ if they don't know Jesus Christ.
The disciples and all who Jesus called didn't give up everything to follow Jesus because his opening conversation with them was a diatribe about their horrible sinful ways, about all the terrible things they had done, the horrible people they were, and how they would Always sin and doubt no matter how much he worked with them - the came because he said "come".  Jesus knew it all.  He knew that woman had already been through 5 husbands, and he pointed it out so she would know he knew, and then never said another word about it.  The point was that he Did know all the horror and wanted her anyway.

Romans 5:8 says (in my words) - you want a definition of love?  Jesus saw me, a sinner who didn't love him, who didn't care about him, who didn't even know he existed.  He knew that I was royally screwed up and no matter what he did, no matter how long I lived, I would Never figure it all out, I would never get it right, and he bought me anyway.  Jesus paid for me, in blood, just so the broken mess I am would have the Chance, the option, the choice to spend eternity with him.

If that's not the message we're sending, if that's not what people learn about Christ from our life, our walk, our stances, our words, then we are doing it wrong.

L1:L2 = Love God:Love Others.

With love, humility, conviction, and as a #Note2Self,