Pastor’s Blog

Where Is This Coming From – Judgment

A Few Thoughts on

Where Is This ‘Judgment’ Coming From

We have a complicated relationship with the word ‘judgment.’  There are negative associations regardless if it being received or being given.  But, if we want to live the life Jesus has called us to, we must confront the difficult relationship.

First; we do not like to receive it.  We may view it has a violation of our rights or an intrusion on our privacy.  We really have a hard time with the thought that someone is examining our words or actions, determining if those words or actions are good or bad, and then telling us about.  We want to reject and push against anyone that would attempt to do such a thing.  We will even attempt to use the bible to prove our point.

Most of the time our response to these situation is “Only God can judge me.”  Admit it.  We have all seen the tattoo.  We have all heard that before.  We have all, more than likely, said that before to someone that we thought was “getting in our business.”  We use this ‘excuse’ for our actions in saying, “You don’t know what is in my heart.”

And that is so true.  We do not know what is in another person’s heart.  All that we have to go on is the sum total of words, actions, and emotions. And from that, we can infer the direction a person’s life is headed and what their priorities are.  It’s true.  Our words, actions, and emotions reveal so much about us.  We may not know what is in the heart, but the actions give us a good clue.

When this excuse ultimately fails we move to the next one:  “Who are you to judge me?”  We may say things like:  Don’t look at me!  What about your relationship, family, children, job, money, social media, addictions, etc… And we will, again, try to use the bible to back up this position in saying:  “Judge not or you will be judged.  For the same standard of measure you measure with, it will be measured to you.”  

But what if the standard of measure was love.  What if the standard of measure was grace.  What if the standard of measure was truth and honestly trying to save you from a bad decision or a worse situation.  We will never know because we rejected the words immediately and never gave it an opportunity to help us.

We have a complicated relationship with receiving judgment. We also have a complicated relationship in giving judgment.  When we see a person that we can see is about to make a bad choice or headed down a dangerous path, we have two choices:  confront them or hope someone else does.  Often time, we opt for the later.  We don’t want to look like the bad guy.  We don’t want people thinking that we are ‘holier than though’ or ‘we are so perfect that we have the right to speak to whoever we want, about whatever we want, whenever we want.’  So we stay out their lives so they will, in turn,  stay out of ours.  Or, we disguise or indifference as helpful.  We ACT like we are kind.  We ACT like we are compassionate.  We ACT like we are sensitive.  We ACT like we are loving.  We ACT like we care. But, the whole time we do nothing that would actually help them.  We are indifferent.  

But this is not the way Jesus has called us to live; as families or as a group of believers that we today call the church.  Jesus said:

Matthew 18:15

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.

This is sound against our culture, today.  Seriously, who lives this way?

People who want to grow!  People who want to see those around them grow!  People who want to see the kingdom of God grow!  People who want to see the calling God has placed on their life fulfilled!  People who want to see the calling God has placed on others fulfilled!  That’s who!

It is time to drop the excuses of “Only God can judge me.  Stop looking at my life.”  It is time to allow mentors, elders, and pastors, and family members that care about you to speak into your life.  They will help you grow.  They want the best for you.  Let the ego drop.  Let the guard down. It is not a power play.  No one is trying to control you or make you fit into a mold.  In love, grace, and truth, there are people wanting to help you grow!

It is also time to drop the excuses of “I’ll help when they ask for it.  I don’t know if I should get involved.  Our generations don’t connect.”  It is time to reach out to those around you; younger than you and younger in the faith than you; to mentor and guide them.

Jesus has invited us to get involved in the lives around us.  And here is why.  He loves you.  He loves them.  It is his will that none should perish. He wants you to help those in your church and in your family to draw closer to Him!


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Where Is This Coming From – Fear

A few thoughts on “Where is this FEAR coming from?”

First off, it is important to understand that fear is innate.  We are born with it.  Even more importantly, we need to be aware of the fact that is NOT a part of broken or sinful humanity.  God has placed the ability to fear within us!  It is there and will always be there. 

An examination of the perfect, sinless life of Jesus teaches us as much.  As he is looking ahead to the cross he prays: “Let this cup pass from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but Your will be done.”  Jesus, in his humanity, looking ahead to the cross, understood the physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual pain he was about to endure.  It is in these moments that fears shows up.   Fear is to alert of changes in the environment.  Fear is to make us aware that there may be a threat to our lives or the lives of our families.

But there is a problem with fear. The problem comes when we respond in fear.  Jesus did not allow his fear to dictate his direction or actions.  Rather, he resolved to live out his purpose and calling.  

We fear things; maybe lots of things.  We fear how to make ends meet.  We fear if our marriages will end.  We fear the doctors prognosis.  We fear for our children’s well-being.  And we are also seeing fear in the church regarding the things of God.  We fear worship.  We fear giving.  We fear accountability .  We fear community.  We fear submission. We fear holiness.  We fear outreach.  We fear experiencing more of the power of God.

There is the initial fear that rises up that let’s us know that something is changing in the atmosphere, but that fear should be used to drive us into God’s purpose.  But often times, when we fear these things, we submit to the response of fear.

We fear that if I give, I can’t make ends meet.  Then, we end up ‘broke.’  We fear that our marriages will end in divorce, and alas, they do.  We fear the doctor’s prognosis is the gospel truth; we never get better.  We fear worship and we never have the strength to press through when we really need to experience God’s presences (we didn’t realize how cold our relationship with God had become). We fear outreach and people are left to die without hearing the truth of God’s word.  We fear submission and our lives are left with no direction.  

When we allow the response of fear to take the reins of our lives, we submit to the outcomes of those fears. But there is hope.  It is getting back to the true purpose of our fear.

Mark 4:35-41

On that day, when evening came, He *said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they *took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. And there *arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they *woke Him and *said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

This is a fascinating account of Jesus and his disciples and the different way fear operates in our lives.  A storm comes and the disciples, that are originally fisherman, are afraid.  This is a legitimate fear.  They understand that the boat is sinking.  This isn’t irrational.  Much like the storms we face.  They are real.  It is not irrational for fear to rise up in you to say: “SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE!”  But notice the way this scene plays out.

Jesus is asleep.  Jesus is calm.  Jesus never gets in a rush.  While, on the other hand, the disciples are screaming and shouting, and emotionally charged.  They are accusing Jesus of not even caring that they are about to die.  This is the perfect example of the response of fear.  The response of fear submits to the outcome.  “We are perishing!”

But Jesus, calmly, speaks to the storm:  Peace, be still.  

I love this, because the one that as all power authority in heaven and in earth does not have to command anything twice.  We never hear where Jesus commands a healing twice.  We never hear where Jesus has to tell a demon twice to be cast out.  NEVER!  When Jesus speaks to the storm he calls the name of the storm, Peace, because in the middle of fear we are to find the peace of God.

Then he turns to the disciples and asks:  “Why are you afraid?  Why do you still have no faith?”  We should ask ourselves the same question:  Why are you still responding in fear?  Where is our faith?  Maybe our faith is weak because we have been listening to the response of fear instead of the word of God.

One translation of the last verse states that the disciples “feared a great fear.”  In other words, they stopped responding in fear.  The innate fear, the fear that they are born with, instead of submitting to the outcomes of worry, hopelessness, and despair is now submitting to the power of Jesus.  

When fear rises up in us we are to find peace because we KNOW that JESUS IS GREATER.  We KNOW that JESU IS MORE POWERFUL!  Jesus is greater than my fears, hurt, pains, lack, diagnosis, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and despair.  When I submit to the power of Jesus I am submitting to the power of His outcome.  

Isaiah 41:10

‘Do not fear, for I am with you;

Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,

Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Stop responding in fear!  God will strengthen you.

Proverbs 19:23

The fear of the Lord leads to life,

and whoever has it rests satisfied;

he will not be visited by harm.


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Where Is This Anger Coming From

A few thoughts on “ Where Is This Anger Coming From?”

We have a complicated relationship with “anger,” don’t we?  This is mostly due to the examples of anger we have seen in our lives.  It has been so explosive, violent, and destructive that we say we want no part of it at all.  For some of us, we have been the victims of such violent anger that left us with so many hurts and pains, that we want to avoid any conflict at all cost.  More so, most of us would refuse to admit that we get angry, rather, we are frustrated and responding to what someone else did to us.

But we have the concepts and definitions all screwed up thanks to these horrible and real experiences.  There is no excuses for the hurt and pain that anger has caused you.  But that doesn’t mean that anger is bad.  Anger that is allowed to go uncheck and is allowed to become unhealthy and unbalanced in our lives has the potential to be destructive and often times will be.  

But that is not the reason why anger is present in our lives.

As we read through the Bible, there are a few concepts that will help us to understand anger.  First, we are created in the image of God and for lack of better terms, this is a God that expresses emotions.  Secondly; one of the emotions that we read about God expressing is anger.  God gets angry.  Read about Jesus (God manifested in the flesh) turning over tables in the temple.  This was an act of anger.  Lastly; His anger is different.  It is crusader anger.  It is anger that is set against the injustices of the world.  Jesus turned over the tables and drove out the money changers to allow the deaf and the lame to enter in the temple for healing!  This is why you and I are born with the emotion of anger.  God has called us to be crusaders.

This is where the problem really begins in our lives.  No one teaches us how to be angry or what to be angry about.  People mostly teach us that anger and conflict is wrong.  If you are angry, you need an outlet.  If you are confrontational person, find a hobby.  When we are angry, we are told to monitor and modify our behaviors.  “Stop yelling” or “Put on a happy face.”  No one teaches us how to be angry or what to be angry about. 

When Anger Is Unhealthy:

Now, most would agree that anger is aggressive, explosive, and demonstrative.  This type of extroverted anger yells, slams and breaks things, rage-filled, and is almost impossible to control.  One issue is that some would only define this as anger.  But introverts are not off the hook.  Introverted anger is just as destructive.  Introverted anger manipulates through a deafening silence to get its way.  

Why Are You Angry:

In the letter of James, we read a question that is worth us reading and truly internalizing the answer to: 

James 4:1-2 

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. 

Think about each of these lines and allow them to  bring clarity to your relationship with anger and then allow them to impact every relationship you have.
 
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Why are you getting angry?  It is because of something inside of you.  When our anger is off balance it is because, to say it simply, we are not getting what we want.  We are angry because a desire in us is left unfulfilled.  Now, we like to blame other people and circumstances.  And, yes, it may be true:  someone lied to you, someone  did not uphold their end of a bargain, someone hurt you; all of these could be true.  But, the reason why anger is rising up inside of you is because you are not getting what you think you deserve.  You are not getting what you want; plain and simple.
 
We have to get this in check.  We cannot only monitor or modify our behaviors when it comes to anger.  If that is all we attempt to do, eventually something will tip the scales and our anger will show; with destructive consequences.
 

Take a look at what James said:  You desire but do not have, so you kill.  This isn’t hyperbole.   This isn’t exaggeration, at least not to the extent we want to believe.  A quick look at the murders across the USA will prove that.  But maybe murder is an exaggeration for you, which is a great thing, but destruction isn’t.  How many relationship have been destroyed because of anger?  How many jobs have you been through because of anger?  How’s the relationship you have with your children because of your anger?  Destructive isn’t it.  

THERE IS HOPE:

There is hope for our anger.  There is something that we can do that we keep our anger in check; to keep it balanced and healthy.  We must say: “NO!” to ourselves.  This comes in the form of humility.  Earlier James would write:

James 3:13

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

The wise and humble own up to their piece of the conflict by saying:  You know what the problem is?  I am not getting what I want.  They step away and allow the emotions of the moment to cool off.  They step back and find a place to check their reasons for getting angry.  The wise and humble understand that the greater good is peace in the home, family, or office.  The wise and humble fight for the greater good rather than for  the great gain.  This is exactly how Jesus taught us to live.  Paul expresses this perfectly to us in his letter the church in Philippi:

Philippians 2:1-9

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

He denied himself so that we could gain healing, victories, and salvation.  When we deny ourselves we are giving those around the opportunities for the same.  There is always something greater to live for.  When are minds are set on the greater good our anger is kept in check.

So when anger begins to rise up and you step back praying to say ‘no’ to yourself, use these words from John the Baptist to guide you:

John 3:30  He must increase, but I must decrease. 


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Where Is This Coming From: Envy

In this series we have been discussing the root causes of those moments that seem so out of character.  Because let’s face it, we have all had moments that the person that came out of us, wasn’t the person we wanted to show the world.  For the most part we have done so well at monitoring and modifying our behaviors.  We keep our cool.  We keep it together.  We go with the flow.  

I am impressed with these people.  I have always been an expressive person and it serves me well in certain areas of life.  Preaching, it is good to show emotion.  In other areas of life, when simply voicing simple frustrations or concerns, being overwhelmed with emotion can just leave me coming off looking angry. 

Maybe you are like me… or…Maybe you’re the person I envy…  

Either way there are these moments that spill out of us that are not like our normal every  day selves.  Now, we would like to think, and we go as far as to tell people,  “That wasn’t me…  I am not like that… I didn’t mean that…”  But as true as that might be those moments are a part of you are!  There is no getting around it.  You can apologize. You can make excuses.  You can blame and point to circumstances.  You can do and say a lot of things to try to make up for the moment.  But the truth is, it’s in there…it’s in you… and we have to deal with it.

Jesus taught about this and this is what he had to say to his disciples:

Matthew 15:18-20

But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”

These “things” that are coming out in to the open.  The emotions, actions, and behaviors that you try to hide, bury deep inside, or explain way, they are in your heart.  This heart is deceitful and wicked above all else.  So to deal with the behaviors only doesn’t help.  To monitor and modify the behaviors doesn’t help.  Because, eventually what is in our heart is going to come out and be displayed before all.

Just listen to this…and in the context of our study, consider it a warning:  

Luke 8:17 “For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.

And our subject for today is one of those that if we do not deal with it daily. It will come out into the light with the potential to destroy…

So let’s discuss ENVY

First off, just to clear the record, envy is not greed.  These become intwined and intermingled so often that both have lost their true meaning a bit; which is absolutely scary!  Because that can allow this to insidiously creep in and take over our lives…  These are two things that we need to watch for in our lives…and we need to make sure that we recognize them for what they are…  So today we talk about envy…

And envy is not wanting more.  GREED is this intense self desire to gain and for more…   ENVY is different than greed in this way;  envy is  a feeling of discontent or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, circumstances, or luck…

Now let’s be honest, this definition was really good 20 years ago.  This definition was really good 15 years ago.  But this definition is missing something, now.  Social media as changed the game when it comes to envy.  

Now-a-days: it doesn’t matter how mundane the scene is, it doesn’t matter how boring the environment is,  or how horrible the view is from your hotel room.  From the right angle, with the right filter, with the right apps, we can make it seem like we are the super elite of the world.

And when we do that… there are people that look at our photos that we worked so hard at to make them look good…and they are envious… this discontentment rises up in their life about stuff they never new they cared about.  AND IT’S NOT EVEN TRUTH…

ENVY comes in many shapes and sizes.  Some of  them do not seem so serious, but it can grow and grow quickly.  Some of it is over what kind of clothes someone is wearing. Some of it is over where they live.  Some of it is over the cars that they drive.  Some of it is their job, how much money they make. The promotions that they are getting.

Two things we want to know, remember, and understand about envy:

ENVY IS ALWAYS AN 

UNHEALTHY FOCUS ON 

SOMEONE ELSE!

ENVY IS NOT A PROBLEM TO SOLVE

IT’S A TENSION TO MANAGE

Some try to make excuses about their envy:

I grew up poor…or…I am poor and I have never had these experiences.

If only I had the same opportunities,  then I would be as successful.

If I had as much money or as many resources as they have, then I could do the same thing.

So what do we do?  We start to act differently.  We start changing things about our behaviors, our dress, our actions, our relationships.  And there is great harm in this.  It may not seem like a big deal, but the harm is that envy doesn’t want to control one area of your life, it wants every area of your life!  So you may start off changing one little thing about your life, but eventually you will change everything, giving up your true self.

Envy will attempt to destroy our marriages, families, and our callings. Just look at how this can play out in our lives:

If your spouse doesn’t look like the way they did when you got married; discontentment and envy sets in.

When our marriages and homes seem more like war zones and at work here is this person that just gets me; discontentment and envy sets in.

When our children aren’t excelling the way other children are and you just want all these other children to fail; discontentment and envy sets in. 

You have this idea of what success is and then you sacrifice so much along the way to obtain it.  And on the way to that success, you’ve lost your children relationally and spiritually.  What did you gain?

And everything that you are doing, to satisfy this emptiness inside isn’t working. You didn’t wake up over night and look like Adonis.  You spouse doesn’t look like a super model.  Your marriage isn’t getting better.  Your home isn’t getting better.  Your children didn’t magically jump to the front of the class.  As your children become adults, you are now more concerned for their health and well being because it’s waining.

As you begin to focus more and more on what others have versus what you do not have, that discontentment starts to filter out into areas of my life that can be destructive.  It can destroy jobs, families, marriages, callings.  It proves this statement:

 PROVERBS 14:30

…ENVY ROTS THE BONES

We have the words of a very wise man record for us in the bible for us.  That man’s name was Solomon and he speaks directly to this issues.  My prayer is this:  as we walk through this passage of scripture; we see our selves in it and the direction and the things that need to change in our lives.

ECCLESIASTES4:4-8

I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind. The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.

Then I looked again at vanity under the sun. There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, “And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?” This too is vanity and it is a grievous task.

Now let’s work through this…

I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind. 

Solomon is telling us that what he has observed that the driving motivation for so many people is what someone else has or what someone else is doing. “Look at what they have.  Look at what they are doing. Look at what they are accomplishing.  SO CAN I…  WHAT MAKES THEM SO SPECIAL…” And you start this competition with them, that honestly, they do not even know they are a part of.

And Solomon says that this is:  striving, or chasing after the wind.  

Something that you can never catch.  You will constantly chase after and never ever be able to grab a hold of it.  To say it another way:  dissatisfaction guaranteed.

When your motivation becomes someone else’s possessions, or positions, or status, or wealth it is the chasing after the wind; and the joy is stolen from our accomplishments.   You can’t celebrate what you have because you look and see someone else ahead and what they have. You see the shinier, the newer, the happier.   And if you could only have.  And if your family could only be like.  If you were more like. It starts all over again. It’s chasing after the wind!  You are never satisfied.

This is the heart of the problem with envy: it’s the motivation.  The motivation of competing with people that have no idea there is a competition.

So what is the answer? Some would say, to quit give up and do nothing. What’s the point?  We shouldn’t try to get ahead. We shouldn’t try to succeed. Sounds reasonable.  And we can see where for a long time people went that route.  Trophies for every one!  Let’s remove the spirit of competition.  But that is not what Solomon teaches us:

The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. 

He says the fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh.  He says the fool quits and gives up.  Quitting is not the answer.  Because if you quit, you will be left with nothing and you will waste a way.  Quitting is not the answer.  

One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.

Another version of scripture says it like this…

Ecclesiastes 4:6

Better one handful with tranquillity

than two handfuls with toil

and chasing after the wind.

REST & TRANQUILITY! You don’t give up, but you don’t stress yourself out trying to be something that you are not.  Something that you are not created to be.  Something that you are not designed to be.  It is better to have one handful and to be content with enough and be at peace, to be at rest, than to continuously chase after things that will never satisfy!

We will only truly be satisfied when we are fulfilling the purpose that God has created us for!  Plain and simple!  When you are fulfilling the purpose of God for our lives, taking on His yoke, you will rest…  and you will be content because He supplies.

You can have more money.  You can have more possessions.  You can have more of anything you can imagine.  But if all the gaining is coming at the expense of peace; you will look back in the wake of your life and see a broken marriage, children that are scattered, unhealthy, and daily living in the pain and stress of anxiety and depression…

Slow down and be satisfied with one handful. Slow down and be satisfied fulfilling the calling of God in your life without the worry of does your life measure up to the standards of this world that , might I add, is fickle and ever changing.

This is  exactly the kind of life the words of Solomon are trying to warn us about:

Then I looked again at vanity under the sun. There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. 

He had no heir. No one to leave us possession and wealth to, yet he was not satisfied. He looked around and was comparing himself to all those around him and was filled with discontent. Envy took over. Dissatisfaction! My life doesn’t look like everyone else. I don’t have what other people have… so I’ll show them… I get more… I have more…  I’ll make them jealous for what I have!

Isn’t that usually the way all of these plays out? To use social media as an example.  You see what others have.  You see what they are posting.  You see there vacations.  You see the amazing food.  You see the amazing new purchases.  So what do we do?  DO YOU QUIT?  NO!  YOU ARE NOT A  FOOL!  WE ARE NOT QUITTERS! You step our game up! You get some new things.  You post about our food! You use new filters! YOU use new apps! Because with this thing called envy that rises up is this:  You have made me feel worthless about my life… SO, I am going to make you feel worthless about yours!  I want you to feel just as discontented about your life as you have made me feel about mine…

And there is no end to this cycle.  You are dissatisfied and you want the world to now be envious for you.

Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, “And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?” 

Here is the problem and here is where you have to stop yourself.  This is serious and can save you now from the problems that you are finding yourself in today and it will definitely save you from problems in the future that you can find your self in:

Stop and ask yourself:  AND FOR WHOM AM I LABORING AND DEPRIVING MYSELF OF PLEASURE?

Another version of scripture says it like this:

For whom am I toiling,” he asked,

“and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”

Solomon is saying that this man never stops to ask himself:  Why am I doing this?  What am I working so hard for?

Have you stopped and asked yourself, why?  Why you are working so hard?  Why are you buying new clothes?  Why are you buying a new car?  Why are you doing this or that?

This is a great question to ask if you have children in the home:  Why are you toiling… Why are you working so hard that you are stressed out?  Because often times you will say: well, for my family… for my children… But what for it and then the truth comes out.  You never call it out for what it is but the next part gives you away…  

TO GIVE THEM THE LIFE I DIDN’T HAVE…

There it is!  Anything wrong with wanting your kids to have a great life, a better life that the ones that you had; NO, absolutely not!  But  how often as that better life that you want to give them come at the expense of them?  Yours kids are not standing at the doorway when we are leaving for work cheering you on saying:  “go make a ton of money…I don’t care if I see you today… just give me your money…”  But our kids are rushing up to you the moments you step through the door.  Why?  What hey see as the best life and what you are defining as the best life are two completely different things.  They are defining the best life is time with you, stress free and present; while you define success as stressing your self out to buy them presents.

It’s time to redefine success.  And it is not be wealth, status, possession.  Listen, let’s just be real, some people are going to make more money than others.  People are all going to have different jobs.  Different things that others are good at. But if you start defining success be what someone else has or does then you miss out on what success is for your life.

Let’s redefine success:  as peace, tranquility, and pleasure…

Proverbs 14:30

A HEART AT PEACE GIVES LIFE TO THE BODY,

 BUT ENVY ROTS THE BONES

How do I grab a hold of this kind of success?

First…

There is a reoccurring theme in the new testament that if we will practice it and practice it everyday we can keep envy in check.   

Because remember:  

ENVY IS NOT A PROBLEM TO SOLVE

 IT’S A TENSION TO MANAGE

And that theme is love for another.  

John 13:35

By this all men will know that you are My disciples, 

if you have love for one another.”

1 John 3:11

For this is the message you heard from the beginning:

 We should love one another.

1 John 4:7

Dear friends, let us love one another, 

for love comes from God. 

When you find yourself envious over someone else, instead of allowing discontentment to take control in your life, allow love!  

Count your blessings and  not your neighbors.  Actually do this, because if you will you begin to see how God has actually blessed  you. How what God has already placed in your hands is enough.  And that  humbles.  You become grateful.  And it is from a humble and grateful stance that you can love.  You can give when you are humble and grateful.  You can’t give when you are discontented and envious.  

ENVY always gets in the way of love.  When you allow love to control your life instead of being envious of what someone else has, you can celebrate what someone else has.

And Secondly… 

We need to search for the calling of God on your life and not compare it to someone else.  Your calling doesn’t look like someone else’s calling .  

Some are afraid to do more in ministry because of the way ministry looks in someone else’s life.  You think, you don’t want any part of that. But your calling is unique to you and it will be displayed to the world differently than any one else’s calling. 

LOOK TO OTHERS FOR INSPIRATION, NOT IMITATION… 

If god is no respecter of persons, than if he placed that ministry or that person then he can bless you. But in that moment, stop looking at the other persons blessings and look to God has the giver of every perfect gift, satisfied with the fact that He will supply all of your needs according to his reaches and glory.

If you need to compare yourself…

COMPARE YOURSELF TO WHO YOU WERE YESTERDAY, 

NOT TO WHO SOMEONE ELSE IS TODAY…

So pray…

2 Timothy 1:6

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God 

which is in you through the laying on of my hands.


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Where is this coming from: Guilt

We all have had moments that have left us wondering, “WHERE IS THIS COMING FROM?”   Most of the time we can be nice.  Most of the time we can keep our cool.  Most of the time we can keep our heads in the game.   But then come the moments.  We throw something across the room.  We snap at someone.  Our voices raise.  Our tone changes.  And left in the wake of those actions is a ton of hurt, pain, and damage.

And we say to ourselves… Where is this coming from?

Or… Someone says to us…  Where did that come from?

And there is an easy answer to this question, though it maybe a hard pill to swallow.  The answer is:  it is coming from our heartA.

Jesus put it like this:

Matthew 15:18-20

But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”

We do a great job of modifying and monitoring our behavior, for the most part.  But the moments when our guards are down, or our defenses are worn out, or when stress comes, or  when devastation shakes us, what is in our hearts are revealed.  These moments reveal the emotions, hurt, pain, and even sins that are already in our hearts.

The  “WHERE IS THIS COMING FROM?” moment is only exposing what is already in our hearts.  Now, there is a time to deal with the WHY these things are in our hearts, but the truth of the matter is that we are living in this present moment and we need to learn how to live in this present moment.  We need to resolve what is in our hearts and in our past to this present moment.  We can only truly move forward in life when we resolve our past to our present.  But, if don’t we resolve what is in our hearts, it will stay with us, it will grow, a d it will spill out on to those around us.

To start the journey of moving forward, we need to come face to face with this truth:    WE ARE GUILTY.

Guilt is saying, yes!  It is in there.  This is what is in my heart.  We have done some wrong things.  We have hurt people.  We have sinned.  We are guilty.  

Some of us, with our guilty, play it over and over again in our minds, constantly punishing ourselves about the past.  And the only way we can make sense of living in today is to create a narrative.  We have a story to tell.  We make excuses.   “I was young and dumb…”

Or, we stuff it so deep down inside that we act like it never happened.  

Simply put:  we either  become defined by our guilt or  we deny our guilt.  But being defined by our guilt or denying our guilt only empowers guilt.

Thankfully, those are not the only two options that we have with or guilt.  We can resolve our past to our present and move forward!

Think about the life of Paul:

PAUL THOUGHT HE WAS RIGHT:  Listen to how the bible describes his heritage, upbringing, and qualifications…

Philippians 3:4–8

although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; …as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.

Just think for a moment.  We have this description of who Paul is and if life was about being perfect, guiltless, and blameless shouldn’t it be that this is all we ever would  read about Paul’s past?  Shouldn’t all we know about him is how great he was and how qualified he was?

This is our relationship with guilt. Because we know that we have made these mistakes and that these things are in our heart, we feel that we are some one disqualified…or at least… disqualified when someone finds out about it.

But the writers of the bible did not only write about the praise worthy moments of Paul.  They didn’t just give us a list of qualifications.

NOTICE THE WAY PAUL WRITES ABOUT HIS PAST… 

Paul openly admits his guilt…

1 Timothy 1:15

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

Paul openly admits he persecuted the church:

Philippians 3:6

as to zeal, a persecutor of the church;

1 Corinthians 15:9

9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

Luke, the writer of acts describes Paul like this…

About Stephen’s execution he write this: 

Acts 7:58

When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Luke doesn’t hide the words of Pauls sermon in Acts 22

Acts 22:4

4 “I worked hard and killed men and women who believed as I believe today. I put them in chains and sent them to prison. 5 The head religious leader and the leaders of the people can tell you this is true. I got letters from them to take to our Jewish brothers in the city of Damascus. I was going there to put the Christians in chains and bring them to Jerusalem where they would be beaten.

Paul doesn’t run from his guilt.  it is there for us to read.  It is there for us to know.  But knowing that you have done something wrong doesn’t necessarily bring the tension of guilt.  There are these moment in life bring us face to face with it. For Paul, that came in the form of ministry.

What we know about his life as Saul of Tarsus is that he was well on his way to become a pharisee.  That means that he was extremely smart, educated, memorized the Old Testament, able to teach, debate, and discuss the scriptures.  He was a born minister!

So it just seemed natural for him to want to continue on that path after his encounter with Jesus.  So after his conversion, as he attempts to begin his ministry he comes face to face with the people he arrested, the mothers, fathers, and children of the people he had beaten and killed.  

ACTS 9:19-30

Saul Begins to Preach Christ

Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, 

“Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.

When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus.

Paul came face to face with the hurt, pain, mistakes, sins of his past.  This is where he has a choice to make.  He could either all his past to control his future by making excuses or by stuffing it deep inside acting like it never happened.  

Paul understood his own guilt, call himself chief of sinners.  He faced  his guilt; he didn’t hide it.  He didn’t make excuses about it.  And for that, we now know him for the missionary, church planter, revivalist, and new testament writer.

Sound like the same crossroads we must face.

 Here is what we know about our guilt.  WE owe something.  Guilt bring this debt into our lives.  We have hurt someone or something and now we owe and apology or owe something that we can never give back or replace.  

It is this debt/debtor relationship that has left us living a life completely off balance.  And it is effecting every area of our life.    We carry the weight of this guilt from youth to adulthood.  From work to home and it is spilling over into every relationship.    

And we have been so afraid to face our guilt because we are afraid of the condemnation.  There seems to be no recourse.  There is now way I can repay what I owe.  

Now, please let these words that you about to read sound more than just religious speak.  These words were written by Paul who did all of these horrible things to people please hear the freeing voice of these words.   Read life in these words. Hear relief in these words:

PAUL WRITES:

Romans 8:1

Therefore there is now no condemnation 

for those who are in Christ Jesus.

PAUL writes these words knowing his past but knowing what God’s grace as allowed him to do…

AND THESE WORDS ARE PAST TO US…

ROMANS 8:1-3

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,

Jesus paid the debt for sin and condemnation.  You are free.  You are not condemned.

John 8:36

So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

We are free.  So let’s stop holding on to guilt.  Let’s stop condemning ourselves.  Let’s stop living off balance because of the past.  Jesus as set us free from the sin, guilt, and condemnation of our past!  

Jesus spoke these words to the woman caught in adultery:
I DO NOT CODEMN YOU…”
 

So now we can live in this manner:

BECAUSE HE HAS SET ME FREE: 

I NO LONGER CONDEMN MYSELF…

BECAUSE HE HAS SET ME FREE: 

I MAY REMEMBER MY GUILT, BUT IT WILL NOT DEFINE ME…

BECAUSE HE HAS SET ME FREE: 

I WILL DO NOT CONDEMN OTHER…

BECAUSE HE HAS SET ME FREE: 

FREE TO MAKE RESTITUTION WITHOUT EXPECTATIONS AND WITHOUT EXCUSES…


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