Tuesday, February 26, 2013

No Comparisons

“Each one should test his own actions.  Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry their own load.” (Galatians 6:4-5 NIV)

“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” (Galatians 6:4-5 MSG)

“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else.  For we are each responsible for our own conduct.”  (Galatians 6:4-5 NLT)

Did you notice that I just used the same verse but from three different translations. Each one speaks to me just a little differently.

I need to pay attention to the work God has called me to do and not compare myself to others. I’m only responsible for the work God has called me to do.

But how many times do we try to compare ourselves to others?

What do you compare?  (Forgive me for the female perspective.)

  • Is she prettier?
  • Is she skinnier?
  • Does she have better clothes; or even more clothes?
  • Does she have a bigger house?
  • Does she have a newer car?
  • Does she have a better job?
  • Does she make more money?
  • Does she have a better husband?

All of these are physical or material things. We shouldn’t be focusing on these things.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:19-21

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things”  Colossians 3:2

What about spiritual things? Do you get caught up comparing yourself or your church to others?

  • Does our church have more people than theirs?
  • Do we worship better than they do?
  • Do I sing as good as that other person?
  • Is our pastor a better teacher/preacher than theirs?
  • Am I as powerful a teacher as he/she is?

Perhaps those questions should be:

  • Am I reaching out into our community and inviting people to come?
  • Am I pleasing God with my worship?
  • Do I sing for God? Am I making a joyful noise?
  • Is our pastor teaching the Word? Am I listening to what God is saying to me through him? Am I responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit?
  • Am I seeking God for what He would have me teach and then teaching what God lays on my heart?

Everything I am is because of who Christ is and what He did for me. I need to focus on using my God given talents and abilities to serve Him the best that I am able – and not to look at what anyone else is doing or not doing.

God made me exactly the way He wanted me to be. He knows what His purpose is in my life. I need to accept myself for who I am and not try to be someone else. God made them different and gave them different gifts because He has a different purpose for them. We are all an important part of the body of Christ.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

I need my goal to be to live every day in such a way that it brings glory to God.

“So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” 2 Corinthians 5:9

“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.” Galatians 2:20

“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. 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.” Romans 12:1-2

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” Colossians 3:23

God, help me see myself through your eyes.  Help me see Your purpose for my life and how You want to use me.  Then help me be willing to carry it through. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Make the choice to forgive

My mind is in a million places this morning. I’m having a lot of trouble focusing. Organizing my thoughts is a chore today. My brain feels like mush but here it goes …

I recently attended a worship service at another church in our community. After the service someone asked me if I recognized the lady who had led the music. I said no and then I was told who she was. I knew this lady when we were growing up and my first reaction was not a good one or a godly one. I was instantly glad I didn’t know who she was prior to the service or I might not have been able to worship that night. Why? I know some things that she did in her past.

As I thought more about this, I realized what a hypocrite I was being. We have all done things we are not proud of. (Remember - All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.) None of us want to be remembered for those things. When we confess our sins, God forgives us and wipes our slate clean. That sin is covered with the blood of Christ and is no longer held against us.

We rejoice because God forgives us. However, do we always forgive each other? Do we allow others to get a clean slate or do we want to remember their past ….

Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

When we forgive others, we are the one who receives the blessing. My forgiving her has nothing to do with her walk with God, but it can really impact mine. A spirit of unforgiveness can complicate and compromise my relationship with God. This is a woman that I haven’t thought about in probably 20 years and yet the mention of her name brought back hurtful thoughts. Forgiving others releases us from anger and allows us to be healed.

Have you ever been shopping and seen a garment that said “One Size Fits All”?  It has been my experience that this is not a true statement.  However, that is the way God looks at sin. God does not qualify sin into categories. There is not one that is worse than another. All sin needs forgiveness and even one sin, no matter what it is, can interfere with your relationship with God. God simply cannot coexist with sin.

As I am writing this, God brought another person to my mind that I need to forgive. I hadn’t thought about him in months. A man who told things about me that simply were not true. I was hurt deeply because I felt I had really tried to help this young man. I worried that others would believe the half-truths, twisted truths, and lies that he told. I was angry and hurt and I was worried about my reputation.

Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

My reputation is in God’s hands. I know the truth. Now, I need to forgive and move on and not worry about what others may believe.

“He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” Psalm 37:6

Forgiveness is a choice. We must choose to forgive those who have done us wrong, then lay the whole mess in God's hands, and leave it there, and walk away.

Meditate on God's love for you. God's love was expressed through Jesus' death on the cross. When we begin to comprehend how much God loves us, then that same love will flow out to others. As we understand God’s love and forgiveness, we will find that forgiving others will come naturally, and healing those wounds will also become a very real and tangible reality.

How about you?  Search your heart.  Is there anyone you need to forgive? 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Testimony

When I was on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ (now called Cru), I was trained to give my testimony. I could do a three minute version, a 5 minute version, and a 10 minute version. Which one I used depended on my situation. Here I’ll try to keep it simple and short.

I was raised in a Christian home. My family went to church every time the doors were open. I was in the youth group, Sunday school class, and the youth choir. I enjoyed the activities and had friends there. I knew a lot about Jesus but I was missing an important piece.

In June 1978, I attended a Christian choral music camp for a week at camp Jumonville. On Thursday night we were privileged to hear Jeff Painter in concert. Jeff is an amazing pianist, composer, and singer. I was enjoying the concert and then Jeff started to give his testimony. He talked about how it isn’t enough to know about Jesus. We needed to know Jesus personally. These were things I had never really understood. I didn’t know that I needed to personally accept Jesus in to my life. Up until this point, I was trying to do everything right. I was going to church and reading my Bible. I was trying to be obedient but it was all on my own effort. I had never asked Jesus to forgive my sin and I had never asked Him to come into my life. This night was the most important night in my life because I answered an altar call and went forward and confessed my sin and gave my life to Jesus. It was at that moment that I understood that I didn’t have to live the Christian life on my own. Jesus was going to be right there with me every step of the way.

So what changed in my life after I became a Christian? To be honest, you would not have seen a lot of change. I still participated in lots of church activities but they quickly took on new meanings for me. I had a peace in my heart that I had never experienced before. I really didn’t live all that differently but now I could draw strength from God. I had a hunger for God’s Word that I had never experienced before.

I graduated from high school and went on to college. I knew upon arriving at college that I needed to find some Christian fellowship. I met a girl who was involved with Campus Crusade for Christ and she invited me to go to one of their meetings. I went and immediately knew that was where I needed to be. I was placed in a discipleship group and I started to really learn a lot about my faith. I was taught how to pray, how to study the Bible, and other basics of the Christian faith. I had a leader who held me accountable and that was really important to my growth as a Christian.

Jesus saved me and changed my life at that music concert. I knew at that moment that I was going to heaven. However, I still had a lot to learn. It is important that after you accept Christ that you don’t stop there but that you seek to know Him better every day.

I am not perfect. I still make mistakes, but I know that my heavenly Father loves me unconditionally and that when I confess my sin, He will forgive me. My Christian walk is a moment by moment experience. I love the Lord and my goal is to live my life so that it pleases Him in every way.


The Bible says:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2Timothy 2:15

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” Colossians 1:10

Friday, February 22, 2013

What is your testimony?

Definition of testimony - is a solemn declaration as to the truth of a matter. All testimonies should be well thought out and truthful.

So if someone asks you about your Christian testimony, they simply want to know the truth about what has happened in your life.

When you tell others about what God has done for you, you are sharing your testimony. It should be the story about how you came to place your faith in Christ. Every Christian should have a testimony.

Some Christians have really dramatic testimonies about how they were saved from a life of drugs or crime. Others don’t have that kind of story to tell but that doesn’t make their testimony any less significant.

The truth is we are all sinners on our way to hell. Then God came and did a miracle in our lives. He rescued us and set us on a path leading to heaven. “For while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) We didn’t do it ourselves. We were saved by grace through faith in Christ.

I like to hear about how people came to Christ but I don’t like it when they go into gory details about all the things they did before Christ saved them. These things are the past and should be put behind them.

There are other testimonies where people tell about how much they have given up for Jesus. They elaborate on all the things they gave up and all the sacrifices they made. Your testimony should be about what Jesus did for you, He gave up His life for you. Therefore, focus on Jesus because He is the one doing the saving work.

A good testimony should lift up the name of Jesus and should convey that we were all sinners hopelessly separated from God and then Jesus came and saved us and transformed us. You should always be ready to share your story of salvation.

Check back for the next post and you can read my testimony …. 


Matthew 10:32 “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, “

Psalm 71:15-18 “My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. “

1 John 5:11 “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.“

1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes”

Titus 3:3-7 “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Being a Christian is Not for Sissies

I had the privilege of driving myself to work today.  While I enjoy carpooling, it is nice to sometimes make that one hour commute by myself.  It is a really good time to get quiet before the Lord and listen and think.  Here’s what God seemed to be impressing on my heart this morning.  This is a somewhat harsh topic but it is what God is teaching me.  Perhaps it will encourage you as well….

The gospel is about salvation. Salvation from what? Sin. At some point when talking about the good news, you have to talk about the bad news of human sinfulness and the penalty for that. This sometimes makes the cross offensive to people.

The danger in all this lies in our fear of stepping forward unapologetically and unashamedly and proclaiming the truth. I try to live out my faith where I work but that is very difficult. I feel very alone most of the time. My values don’t align with the values of my colleagues. I have never been called a Jesus freak but I have been not invited to social gatherings, like Friday afternoons at the sports bar after work. They said they knew I wouldn’t be comfortable there, and they were right.

If I seek my culture’s approval, I’ll either never get it or I will get it at the expense of failing to represent Christ. I am promised that if I live a godly life that I will suffer persecution. Persecution here in the US is not that tough. Perhaps a little name calling or being shunned from certain events. If you can’t handle that much for the Savior who died for you, then you really needed to examine your faith again.

We should be nice to others and it really hurts me when I hear Christians who cut others down. However, it is also sad when our niceness keeps us from speaking the truth. Niceness is not the gospel. Yes, you need to live out your faith. But modern Christianity seems to see that as simply loaning your neighbor a cup of milk and hoping they will turn to Christ. Yes, live out your faith but also open your mouth. Somehow we think that if we talk about Jesus others will think we are weird. If Jesus is important to you, talk about Him. Our good example is important, but it is often not sufficient. There are actual Biblical truths that need to be expressed in words.

Will this generation understand the message of the gospel? God and His Word never change. The plan of salvation has never changed. The method of spreading the Word has never changed. Don’t alter the gospel in order to make it something that everyone can easily agree with. If the gospel becomes nothing more than the reflection of the world, then it has nothing new to offer. Jesus paid with his life to offer a gospel of forgiveness, redemption, and hope. His message is not popular but it was never meant to be. Our job is to speak the truth in love and not edit it in any way.

There are lots of believers today who treat their Christianity as their private business. They don’t challenge the people whose lives and words are contrary to Biblical principles. They try to avoid controversy at all costs so that they aren’t judged to be “one of those radicals”. They don’t want to be associated with the group that opposes things like homosexuality and abortion. They want the world to accept them to the point that they distance themselves from Biblical doctrine. They don’t want to discuss topics like hell. They end up making themselves so much like the world that they soon have nothing left to offer the world.

It is not our job to be popular. We are not part of Jesus’ PR team. We don’t need to tone it down so that we can appeal to a larger population. Jesus is in charge and we are simply his ambassadors. We are to do what he sends us out to do. That includes representing him clearly and accurately to the world. Represent the whole gospel, the real Jesus, not the one who is culturally acceptable.

There is nothing new about the gospel offending people or turning people off. It has always been that way and will continue to be that way. Be strong and courageous and speak the truth.

D. L. Moody was once criticized for his approach to evangelism and he replied, “I like the way I do it better than the way you don’t do it.”

It is not nice to withhold the gospel from others when you consider they are going to hell without it. Don’t confuse your graciousness and kindness with indifference and cowardice. (OK – ouch – that one hurt)


2 Corinthians 2:14-15 “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.”

2 Corinthians 5:20 “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Sunday, February 17, 2013


I was recently asked about my position on gambling. The question came after a lesson from Acts 1 where the disciples chose a replacement for Judas.

“So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.”  Acts 1:23-26

Throughout the Old and New Testaments, we read about people casting lots when a decision had to be made. In most instances, this was simply a way of determining something impartially. They trusted God, in His sovereignty, to cause the lots to fall in accordance with His will for a situation. This wasn’t really like gambling because at no time did anyone ever put something of value at risk.

“Joshua then cast lots for them in Shiloh in the presence of the LORD, and there he distributed the land to the Israelites according to their tribal divisions.” Joshua 18:10

Roman soldiers cast lots for Jesus' garments at his crucifixion:

“"Let's not tear it," they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it." This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, "They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing." So this is what the soldiers did.” John 19:24

The Bible doesn’t specifically say anything about gambling but you can make a decision based on principles found in Scripture.

Here are some principles about what our attitude should be towards money:

“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 5:10

"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Luke 16:13

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10

People who gamble are often times doing it in hopes of striking it big so they can quit work. The Bible tells us we are to work hard.

“Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” Proverbs 10:4

“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food.“ Genesis 3:19

Another principle from the Bible is that we should be wise stewards of everything God gives us. This includes time, talents, and resources. Everything we have belongs to God and we are only using it. God gives us our jobs, our health to carry out our jobs, and therefore whatever we earn should be used wisely. Any extra money that God provides should be used to invest in the Lord’s work or saved for an emergency.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”  Matthew 6:19-20

Gambling and greediness breaks the 10th commandment. It assumes that God has not given us what we ought to have and that there is somehow more wealth that will finally make us happy. Gamblers want more and more money. They may also covet the things that money can buy, like cars, houses, jewelry, and clothing.

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."  Exodus 20:17

Gambling has the potential to turn into an addiction. Many people who start simply can’t stop. It can ruin your family or cause you to lose your job. It can truly cause you to lose control of your life.

Some argue that gambling is nothing more than simple entertainment. However, gambling provides a sense of false hope. It keeps people spending with the hope of “breaking even.” People place their hope in winning instead of placing their hope in God. We are to place our hope in God alone, not in money, or power, or position.

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.” Psalm 62:5

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”  1 Timothy 6:17

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

What about church raffles, bingos, and other drawings. Their logic is that adults should act responsibly and that it is highly unlikely that someone would lose a large amount of money on these things. Churches would do better to just take up an offering for what they need.  They should allow God to bless people for giving to ministries.

So while the Bible doesn’t clearly address gambling, you can draw some conclusions from these principles. Our attitudes should not just be to avoid sin but to participate in activities that will build us in our faith.

Ask yourself:

  • Will gambling help you in your walk with Christ?
  • Will gambling build my faith?
  • Will gambling help me reach out to others around me?

""Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial.“ 1 Corinthians 6:12

Gambling is a moral issue.  There was a time in America where the majority of people considered things like drunkenness, cursing, and gambling to be wrong.  Times and culture have changed but God and His Word have not changed. 

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  Hebrews 13:8

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever."  Isaiah 40:8

Friday, February 15, 2013

Through the roof

These are my notes for my Junior Church Lesson for Sunday.

Mark 2:1-12 (Same story is in Matthew 9:2-9 and in Luke 5:17 – 26 )
1A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home.

2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.

3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.

4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.

5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves,

7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things?

9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?

10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man,

11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”


OK, so let’s replay the story.

These men heard that Jesus was in town. They had heard of Jesus. He was a famous teacher and preacher. Everywhere Jesus went, large crowds followed him.

On this particular night, Jesus was teaching in a small house.

There were a lot of people there.

Why did they come to see Jesus?

  • His friends who wanted to see and hear him
  • They wanted to see a miracle done
  • Curious about him
  • Catch him in a false teaching. These were the false religious leaders who came only to criticize him and find fault with him.

The scene would have been pretty chaotic.  People were pushing to get in.  The house was crowded to the point not one more person could fit in there.  Yet somehow, Jesus is there.  He’s calm.  He’s made a makeshift classroom and he is teaching and healing people.

There was this group of men who decide to try to take their paralyzed friend to see Jesus.  Nothing is really said about the paralyzed man except that his only way to get to see Jesus was if his friends took him.  We don’t know where they came from.  We don’t know how far they had to carry him but when they got to the house it was full.  There was no way they were going to get anywhere close to Jesus.

Houses in that day had flat roofs. They typically even had stairs to the roof. People often used their roof as a place to sit and rest.

Then the friends have a crazy idea.  If we can’t get in from the ground, we’ll get him in through the sky. 

Now what?  How are they going to get him down to see Jesus?  They start ripping the roof apart.  

What do you think the people inside the house thought when they heard noises on the roof and then the roof starts to come apart? 

Perhaps tiles fell down on the inside.  Most likely dust and dirt fell down on the people below.  Suddenly, the sun breaks through a hole and shines into the house. 

The men on the roof are working quickly.  They want to get their friend down through the hole before someone stops them from tearing the roof apart.  Imagine if you were the home owner! 

What do you think Jesus was thinking? 

  • If you believe that he knows all things, then he knew this event was about to happen. 
  • Perhaps he was sitting back smiling and thinking “it’s about time you all got here.” 
  • I’m sure he loved their determination and he admired their love for their friend.  They were willing to do anything to get their friend in to see Jesus. 
  • Perhaps Jesus even chuckled at their efforts. 

I’m sure the people around Jesus weren’t laughing.  They were probably mad. 

What would they have been mad about?

  • mad about the disturbance
  • mad about the noise
  • mad about the dirt
  • mad that these guys “cut in line” to see Jesus

Finally the man is lowered through the roof and lands in front of Jesus. 

I wonder if he had a soft landing or if he kind of got dropped.  

He was excited and anxious.  Would the “mad” people in the house beat him?  Would Jesus heal him? 

Jesus had already decided he was going to heal the man.  In just a couple of seconds, Jesus shared a quick dialog with the paralyzed man. 

Jesus did two main things with this man. What were they?

  • He first forgives him of his sins. Jesus saw that the man's need in his heart was greater even than his need to be well.
  • Then Jesus heals him physically.  The muscles in the man’s legs were rejuvenated and the man stood up.  His legs might have been a little wobbly at first but he was standing.  He was probably grinning ear to ear.

Jesus' words made the religious leaders very angry.

What do you think they were saying?

  • Who is this Jesus Who pretends to forgive sins?
  • Does He think He is God?
  • Only God can forgive sins.

Jesus could read their minds; no one needed to tell Him what these men were thinking.

Turning to them, He said, "Is it easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'?"

Jesus did not wait for an answer—the question was too easy to require one.

Everybody knew that to forgive a person's sins and to cure a paralyzed man were both too hard, and impossible, for a human being to do.

So Jesus went on to tell the scribes and Pharisees that He would show that He had the right to forgive sins by proving He was the Son of God.

Then, speaking to the man, He commanded, "Rise, take up your bed, and go on home, for you are healed!" Immediately all the stiffness left the sick man's body, and his strength came back.

What about the paralyzed man …. What did he do next?

He thanks Jesus.  He has been healed.  His life has been changed.  He leaves praising God.

The people did not know what to think. Some were afraid; all were amazed! How they praised God. People began to say to each other, "We've never seen anything like this before!"

I started thinking about the man’s friends this week.

Here are some of their qualities that stood out to me.

1. They were in agreement. They were able to work as a team to accomplish their goal.

2. They had a common goal. These four men had the common goal of getting their friend to see Jesus – no matter what. Their goal was focused on someone else – not themselves.

3. They were determined. When they arrived, there wasn't even anymore standing room. It appears that these people were standing shoulder to shoulder. Too often, Christians give up and think that there is no way to get their loved one to Christ. But, these four men were determined.

4. They were creative. When faced with the obstacle of the crowd, they didn’t quit. They simply came up with an interesting solution – a hole in the roof.

5. They took their responsibility seriously. These men took upon themselves the responsibility of getting their friend in to see Jesus at all costs.

6. They took a risk. What risk – what about the wrath of the homeowner whose roof they disassembled.

7. They didn’t want the credit. Notice that these men are not identified. They didn’t need their names in lights or a citation from the mayor. They didn’t care that no one knew who they were. They were there for their friend and not themselves.

Are you like one of this man’s friends?  Will you stop at nothing for one of your friends to meet Jesus?  Are you that determined that no matter what obstacle you encounter, you will not quit.  These men refused to be denied and their friend left with his life changed. 

We need to do whatever it takes to see Jesus and to bring our friends to see Jesus.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Make us hot

As I reread my post, God’s Ways are Higher Than Mine, I had a few more thoughts on that topic. The idea of the post was that God is infinitely loving and full mercy and saves a Christian from their sin and blesses them with the assurance of eternity in heaven. At the same time, the same God is also holy and just and can’t coexist with sin. Therefore, He also condemns non-Christians to an eternity in hell.

We are finite creatures trying to understand an infinite God…. a God who is not bound by time or space. We study God’s Word in an attempt to understand God.  And that is a good thing, but God wants us to do more than intellectually agree with the Bible. He wants us to live it out in our daily actions.

If Christians actually lived out the Scriptures, we would shock the world. Instead, we have become dangerously comfortable.  As a general statement, we (Christians living in the US) are wealthy and addicted to our comfort and security and we allow all of that stuff to numb us to the urgency for the gospel.

We are lukewarm. We are exactly like what is written in Revelation chapter 3. We confess Jesus with our lips but we deny him by our actions.

So what did you do today to further the kingdom of God?

Did you live out your faith with your actions?

Were you generous, kind, loving?

Were you that way only towards people who, in your opinion, deserve it, or were you that way to everyone you came into contact with?

Were you patient? How did you react to the car that cut you off in traffic?

Did you treat everyone you came into contact with today fairly and justly?

Did the words you spoke today reflect your faith in Christ? Did you swear? Did you lie? Did you misrepresent the truth? Did you put down someone?  Did you make fun of someone?  Did you gossip about someone?

Were you humble?

Did you encourage others?

Were you polite?

Did you take the time to see the people around you …. Really see them. Were they hurting?

God, give us eyes to see our world the way You do.  Light a fire under us and don’t allow us to be lukewarm.  Burn Your Word onto our hearts.  Break our hearts for the things that break Yours..


Revelation 3:15-20 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me”

Monday, February 11, 2013

Help me …


Last week was a particularly hard week for me.

Help me fix my thoughts on what is true and honorable and right.

Help me think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable.

Help me think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Help me fix my eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of my faith.

Help me to put others needs above my own.

Help me to set my mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Help me to hate what is evil and to hold fast to what is good.

Help me forget what is behind and press on toward the goal.

Help me commit my ways to you and trust in you.

Help me to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks for everything.

Help me to seek your face continually.

Help me to love You with my whole heart, mind, and soul.

Help me to love others.

Help me to be obedient.

Help me to seek Your will and not mine. 

Help me be submissive.

Help me to remember that I am the clay and not the Potter.  Your will and not mine.

Help me be humble.

Help me to trust you with every detail of my life. 

Help me surrender my goals and desires.

Help me be completely honest and trustworthy. 

Help me live a life worthy of the gospel.

Help me be a light in the darkness.

Help me be faithful to You. 

Help me to love the lost.  Break my heart for the things that break Yours.

Help me have the heart of a servant.

Help me to be the hands and feet of Jesus and to make an impact on the world around me.

Help, help, help ….

Help me, Jesus.  Every hour, every minute, every second.

Monday, February 4, 2013

God's ways are better than mine

On January 24, 2013, I read a post on my Facebook that shook me. Dawn Elizabeth Holt was killed in a vehicle collision on a rain-flooded roadway as she traveled to work at her Navy base in Naples, Italy. Why would the death of this 36 year old Navy girl impact me?

I taught and coached Dawn (and three of her four sisters) many years ago in a school just outside of Atlanta. She was one of my “kids”. She was energetic, humorous, spunky, tenacious, and fun. She was full of life and living her dream to see the world. While I hadn’t seen her in 20 years, I followed her on Facebook and loved seeing her pictures. This one cut me to the core. Someone so young and full of life is no longer here. In the blink of an eye, she was gone.

This event combined with a book I am currently reading titled “Erasing Hell” by Francis Chan has left me with a lot of thoughts.

I know that Dawn was a Christian. I know that not just because she went to the Christian school where I taught but I know that by her testimony and her life. She lived out her faith in her actions towards others.

What if she hadn't accepted Christ as her savior?  What if she wasn't a Christian?  Let's think for a minute about what happens when a non-Christian dies.

Have you ever been to a funeral for someone that you knew wasn’t a Christian. Did you notice that the pastor or person residing over the funeral always says nice things about that person? Sometimes you know that they aren’t even true. And, did you notice that they never say and this person was not a Christian and so they are now doomed to spend the rest of eternity burning in hell. Nope, can’t say I’ve ever heard that at a funeral. I know what you are thinking.  That would be cruel to the family who is grieving. But, isn’t it the truth and don’t people really need to hear the truth. What if they really think that no matter how you live your life, at the end you get to go to heaven any way?

This sometimes boggles my mind.  Sometimes I think that God is hard to understand.  He is infinitely loving and yet sends people to hell.  He has to balance His love and his justice.  He can't exist in the same place with sin.  Sin has to be taken care of.  I know these are true but it still plays with my brain.

His ways are far beyond mine and his thoughts are much higher than my thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)   He is the sovereign creator and sustainer and He has the right to do whatever He pleases. (Psalm 115:3)

I guess the question is do I want to believe in a God who shows his power by punishing non-Christians and who shows his amazing mercy by blessing Christians forever? Do I really want to believe that? I think most people would answer this question, no.

I think if we were all honest, we’d all say that we would want everyone to be saved. We would want people to be able to stand before God on judgment day and say, “You know what? You were right, Jesus. You really are the savior. I was wrong. Can I have a second chance?”  I want to believe that in the end, everyone gets to be saved. But no matter what I want, that isn’t what the Bible teaches.
Matthew 25:31 – 36; 41 – 43; 46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Here’s another passage:
Matthew 13:41-43
“The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
These same words appear in several other parables. These are the words of Jesus and so that makes it hard to argue against. (Paul, James, and John all wrote about hell, too.)

Jesus chose strong and terrifying language when he spoke of hell. He chose to speak this way because He loves us. He spoke of hell as a horrifying place, characterized by suffering, fire, darkness, and lamentation. He did this to try to make us take hell seriously and to encourage us to avoid it at all costs.

We serve a God whose ways are incomprehensible; whose thoughts are not our thoughts. Ultimately, thoughts of God should lead to joy.  Why joy .... because He provided a way of escape for us.

Would you have thought to rescue a sinful people from their sin by sacrificing your Son to pay their debt?  Would you have thought to have your Son, who is completely pure, holy, and good, take on human flesh and live among such sinful, ungrateful people?  Would you have thought to allow your created beings to torture your Son and then kill him?  I wouldn’t have thought of that and I wouldn’t have permitted that … aren’t you glad I’m not God?

No one wants to get rid of the plan of redemption that God has provided for us. We need it!  In the same way, we also can't erase God’s revealed plan of punishment just because we don’t like it.

And so, even though I don’t want to believe in hell, I do. Perhaps that is because I don’t have the ability to understand justice the way God does. However, I submit my life, and my knowledge, and my will to a God, whose ways are much higher than mine.

If and when the body of Christ really believes in hell, it will change our daily lives and our ministry….

Isaiah 55:9  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Matthew 9:13b “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Luke 15:7 “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”

Luke 24:47 “and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

What is repentance?  Jesus preached about it.  So did Peter and Paul. 

Let’s look at what repentance is not .

Repentance is not just a changed life. 

A smoker can decide to quit. A drunk can give up the booze.  A thief can quit stealing.  They can change their lifestyles without repentance. First of all, these changes are man-centered and not God-centered. The man who merely reforms has his eyes on the people he has offended and the consequences of his actions in his present life. The gospel, on the other hand, calls for “repentance toward God.”  (Acts 20:21)

The prodigal son got it right.  “I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you”  (Luke 15:18) 

David got it right “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.”  (Psalm 51:4)

Repentance is sin-centered.  The man who reforms his life looks upon his actions as problems, but not as sin against a holy God. Those who repent, on the other hand, confess that they have sinned against God.  Admitting you have faults or problems is not the same as admitting you’ve sinned against God.

Repentance is not just being sorry. 

King Saul is a great Old Testament example. He was sorry that he got caught in various sinful acts, but he did not demonstrate repentance because his actions did not change (1 Sam. 15:24; 24:17; 26:21).

Judas is a New Testament example of a man who was remorseful but did not repent toward God.

Matthew 27:3-4  “ Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.””

Again, being sorry or remorseful is man-centered and not God-centered.

Repentance is also not just an acknowledgement of sin.

Pharaoh did this, but he did not repent toward God and his actions did not change.

Exodus 9:27 “And Pharaoh sent and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “I have sinned this time. The Lord is righteous, and my people and I are wicked.””

So let’s go back to the question.  What is repentance?

Repentance involves seeing yourself as God sees you.  It is an admission that you don’t measure up to God’s standards.  It must be followed by a deep desire not to repeat the same mistakes.  It results in a changed life; a life that yearns to be pleasing to God in every way.  It is a turning from a life of self and sin to a life of submission and obedience to God’s will.

Repentance means honestly dealing with sin in our lives.  What are you holding on to that you need to let go of?  What is it that is keeping you from a close walk with God?  Yield your life to Him.  Turn your back on your former ways.  Surrender to God.  Trust Him to do a new work in your life but be ready and willing for that to happen. 

God loves you and wants the best for you.  He can and will make it happen, if you just let Him.