My Scar

I was a junior in high school. We were doing box jumps during a summer workout. Right in the middle of one of my jumps my foot slipped off the edge and I landed on my shin. It was a moment of excruciating pain. I looked down and the box had cut out a chunk of my shin. I could literally look down and see my shin bone. I am 38 years old and I can still remember the entire scene. I can still remember the pain of the wound. I was 17 years old when it happened and 21 years later I still have a scar from the wound. Every time I see the scar I am reminded of what happened. Honestly, every time I do a box jump I remember that event. Yes, I am 38 years old and still do box jumps from time to time. People will see my scar and ask me what happened and I get to tell the story. There is one crucial thing about this scar that I need to point out: It does not hurt anymore.

I guess you are wondering about the application. Well, if you have lived life long enough then you have been wounded, and it was a wound that was so severe that it left a scar. It was a wound that was so bad that it actually side-lined you for a period of time. It does not take long in this life for people to get wounded. Christians that fight the fight of faith are definitely going to experience wounds during moments of spiritual warfare. These wounds leave scars. Every time we look at the scar we are reminded of how the wound occurred, and the pain that was felt during and after the wound. The blessing of the scar is that a scar is always evidence that healing has occurred. The scar is there, but healing has occurred and praise the Lord it does not hurt anymore. Much of the time we look at the scar differently than we did when the wound occurred jJust like the scar on my shin. I have actually started to enjoy telling the story. I have learned valuable lessons from my wounds. I am able to share words of testimony about my scars.

Let me ask you a question: How do you view the scars in your life? Have you even realized that you are not even bleeding anymore? Have you come to the place where the stitches have dissolved and all that is left is the evidence of a wound and not the actual wound itself? If you and I are going to live the Christ-life then we must realize that scars open the door to share experiences, lessons, and even the gospel. Scars are not just reminders of wounds, but they are also evidence of healing. Look at the following verse and see if you can relate:

‘Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. ‘ 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Myth Busting

“Seeing is Believing”

While this statement is not used in many Christian circles, it is still a myth that must be busted. I can’t help but believe that Christians really struggle with this more than they may admit. There are principles about faith that each one of us must understand. Christians must operate by faith if we are to have a life that is pleasing to the Lord.

  1. God’s Word teaches us that we must believe to see rather than see to believe. Psalms 27:13 “I had fainted,unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” Faith is not about walking blindly through life. It is about trusting God to see for us.
  2. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This is one of my favorite verses. It shows us that faith operates in the world of the unseen.
  3. It does not take long before you see people like Noah, Abram, David, Joseph, and other Old Testament characters teach us lessons on how to walk by faith and not sight. They show us throughout God’s word that He conquers enemies and meets needs when we place our complete trust in His word.

Ultimately, faith is simply believing God. It is actually knowing and believing that God will do and has done what He has said in His word.

Myth Busting Part 2

“God Only Helps Those Who Help Themselves”

It sounds good, it really does. The problem with this statement is that it is completely unbiblical. To be completely honest it is borderline heresy. I want you to think about this statement for a moment. It really does not even make any sense. If I could help myself then I would not need help from anyone else. The fact is that God actually helps those who cannot help themselves. It is sad how humanistic our mentality has become even among our evangelical believers. I do believe that I would bring God and his Word an injustice by saying that He will only help those who cannot help themselves. Let me explain some biblical principles that will bust this myth.

  1. James 4:6 “…God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” Pride does not want help. Pride says “I got this.” God will resist this kind of attitude. He gives grace to those who humble themselves. Basically, God does not help those who help themselves, He actually gives grace to those that approach him completely helpless.
  2. Luke 10:30-37 gives the narrative of the fallen man in the ditch and the Good Samaritan. When reading this passage we discover the fact that the man in the ditch was completely helpless. He could not even climb out of the ditch. The Samaritan went all the way and met him right where he was. That is exactly what Jesus does. We have no way of climbing out of our sinful condition. We cannot meet Jesus halfway. Thankfully we do not have to meet him halfway. He comes to where we are and helps us in our helpless condition.
  3. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 teaches us that God chooses the ignorant, impotent, insufficient, and even the invisible things to confound the wise. He does this so that no flesh will glory in his presence (verse 29). God shows us that He wants to use those that are helpless. Why? Because he does not want anything to be done in our own strength but his strength.

This really bothers some people when you start to realize God only helps the helpless. God wants to remove us from the scenario and display His strength and glory through us. Personally, I am glad God will help me when I am helpless. God wants all the glory. Therefore, we have to come to the end of ourselves, and that is when God will take over.

Myth Busting

“God Will Not Put More On You Than You Can Handle.”

I began thinking today about common phrases that sound really awesome but are biblically untrue. The statement about God not putting more on you than you can handle is one that has been mentioned a lot over the years. This statement most likely stems from the scripture 1 Corinthians 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Connecting this statement to this scripture is stretching the context. It is not that God will not put more on you than you can handle, it is that God will never allow us to be tempted more than we are able. Throughout each temptation, Christians can always find a way to escape. Let me explain why this statement is a myth that must be busted through scripture.

  • Paul’s thorn is more than he can bear (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Paul was given a thorn in his flesh. While there are many who spend time arguing over what this thorn represents, I think it is important to realize that this thorn was so painful that Paul prayed three times for God to remove it. Reading this scripture we can see that this thorn in Paul’s flesh was more than he could bear. God would not remove this thorn, but he would offer enough grace to handle it. Lesson? When God gives us more pain than we can handle, He offers us an opportunity to experience a new level of his amazing grace.
  • David’s giant named Goliath (1 Samuel 17). We often think that David won that battle. No! God won that battle. Goliath was more than Israel could handle, and Goliath was more than David could handle. He was bigger and stronger. God will give us undefeatable giants so that He can display His strength during moments of weakness. God truly uses the foolish things to confound the wise.
  • Three Hebrews boys being thrown in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3). If you and I can think that standing alone against an entire nation while facing being thrown in a burning incinerator is bearable then you are sadly mistaken. It was more than they could bear. It was not more than God could bear. Their relationship with God before the fire is what got them through their fire.

The list could continue. The lesson however, teaches us that God actually puts way more on us than we can bear. I would go as far as to say that God is way more interested in breaking us than He is blessing us. God will give us more than we can handle so that He can get under the load and carry it for us. Conclusion: Myth Busted!

Real, Relevant, Righteous

In the pursuit of being “real” and “relevant”, American Christianity has forgotten the value of righteousness. What I am seeing and hearing from our pulpits worries me. It is like the preaching and teachings being presented are struggling with the balance between being real, being relevant, and also being righteous. Please know that we cannot exchange carnality for righteousness while trying to maintain a sense of relevance. It is actually scary to watch the carnality that so many are embracing within our evangelical churches. It is as though modern Christians are so afraid of being legalistic that they have embraced a sense of carnality and making the excuse that they are just trying to be “real”. What if I told you that we can have all three of these, and we do not have to be legalistic while embracing these three principles. Here are some of my thoughts regarding this subject:

  1. We can be “real” without being carnal. Somewhere along the line we think that being “real” means we have to embrace the attitudes and actions of the world. I hear the phrase “I am just keeping it real…”. Well then…keep it real, but keep it right at the same time. We do not have to use foul language to keep it real. We do not have to be immodest in order to keep it real. We do not have to be social drinkers in order to keep it real. We do not have to listen and watch worldly things in order to keep it real. Remember, Christianity was not meant to be blended with carnality. Keep it real…but at the same time do not sacrifice doing it the right way.
  2. God’s Word will always be relevant. We do not have to twist the Scripture in order to make it relevant. We do not have to manipulate or even modernize it for the sake of being relevant. God’s Word is inspired, and when we read it from the perspective of God speaking to us then it will maintain its relevance. God’s Word presents us with timeless truths. This means the same sermon Jesus preached on Mt. Sinai is the same sermon that relates to us 2000 years later.
  3. Righteousness is a work of Christ. God imputed righteousness on our behalf the moment we trust Christ as our Savior. Disregarding righteousness means that we are disregarding the work of Christ in our lives. Righteousness is a matter of the heart. We are not righteous because we dress modestly, speak appropriately, or resist carnal lifestyles. We dress modestly, speak appropriately, and resist carnal lifestyles because we are righteous. We are not righteous because of what we have done, we are righteous because of the work of Christ.

It is time that Christians quit trying to be like the world in order to reach the world. We are new creatures. God did not save us from the bondage of sin so that we could go back to it. God does not want us to be conformed to the image of this world…he wants us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. We must quit exchanging carnality for righteousness at the expense of making sure we are “keeping it real”. I am going to “keep it real” with everyone reading this: God calls us to a life of holiness, purity, and piety. Christians must be “Christ-like” not “carnal-like”.

The Other Side of the Coin

There are always two sides to every coin. In life there are always two perspectives. It is amazing that while we the situation is the same, the perspectives can be different. Many times we look at life from a one sided perspective but I want to share a verse that helps us see both sides.

‘But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. ‘ 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

There is always another way of looking at life. I have had many different life experiences. I would like to share this verse from the perspective of my own personal experiences.

  • I am defeated but I am not done. Just because I get knocked down does not mean I will not get back up again.
  • I am discouraged but I am not giving up. I refuse to let discouragement define my decision making.
  • I am disliked but I am not unloved. I find value in the love of God not the approval of people.
  • I am overwhelmed but I am not overcome. God will lead me to the rock residing on higher ground.
  • I am hurt but I am not dead. Hurt is reminds me that I am still alive.

Sometimes we all have to see the other side to things. It may be bad, but it is not worse. The perspective we see our lives has a big impact on how we live our lives. I honestly need to keep reading these things back to myself. I do not know about you, but I have a tendency to only see one side of the coin.

Maybe you want to share one of your own.

Do I Qualify?

I always find it amusing when the “good” religious people of the church begin discussing whether or not a person qualifies for church leadership or church service. Actually, I do not find it amusing at all…I normally get really frustrated and sometimes down right angry. I do not want to discredit God’s word when it discusses the offices of the local church. I read 1 Timothy chapter 3 and find myself being weighed, measured, and found wanting. I read that entire list and not only do feel unqualified, but I also feel unworthy. I am always blown away at how many people want to pick the parts of that list that makes others disqualified. I guess one of my greatest frustrations is when people pick the “husband of one wife” and then want to completely disqualify someone from ministry because they have been divorced. It blows my mind how a person can be as carnal as the day is long, still be married and be more “qualified” for the work of God than a man that has been divorced and loves God, loves his Bible, loves prayer, and serves like crazy. How about reading the portion of the text that speaks of being blameless, above reproach, and of good behavior? I guess you maintained good behavior the last time you rush hour traffic? Well, I guess I had better quit medaling so I can actually help those that are truly questioning whether they can truly be used by God.

Let me take you to another list that God that describes the qualification of God’s calling on lives. While reading this list I want you to pretend that you are reading it as a job posting. Ask yourself if you can meet the qualifications of the job. Here is God’s requirements for who he is hiring for his work: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31  For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:  27  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;  28  And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea,and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:  29  That no flesh should glory in his presence.  30  But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:  31  That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. I always get a chuckle when reading this especially the part of “not many”. God even makes room for the over qualified. Read this list carefully. Are you foolish? You qualify. Are you weak? You qualify. Are you low? You qualify. Are you despised? You definitely are meet the criteria. You may be even thinking to yourself about all the things you are “not”. Do you realize that God can bring into existence even the things you are not? God is not looking for “qualified”. He is wanting to take those of us who are not talented, gifted, popular, smart, or strong use them to blow the mind of those that think they are more than qualified. To the one that feels insufficient. To the person that feels unqualified. To the man or woman that feels like they do not have anything to offer God. Let me just say you are just the kind of people God wants to use.

I will end with this. I will always steer clear of those that feel like they are qualified for the Lord’s work. Those that operate as though they are doing God a favor by being a part of his family are those that are full of pride and are usually the least qualified of all. Thankfully, God is interested in those that have nothing to offer God but a life that is willing to be used.

Thank you Lord for wanting to use the underdog.

The Blood of Jesus

There is a scarlet thread that we find woven throughout the Bible. The scarlet thread throughout the Bible is principle of the blood atonement for the remission of sin. Scripture teaches us that in order for sin to be atoned, innocent blood must be shed. Hebrews 9:22 teaches that without the shedding of blood then there is no remission. In order to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve the Lord had to kill an animal. Something had to die to cover the shame of disobedience. The reason Cain’s offering was rejected was because it lacked a blood sacrifice. The only thing that can satisfy God’s wrath against our sin is the blood of Jesus. The old hymn rings true: “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

One of my favorite passages of scripture is Exodus 12. The narrative of the passover. Exodus 12:12-14  For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.  13  And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.  14  And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. The narrative of Moses and the passover lamb teaches us of the need for the blood of Jesus. Without the blood, Israel would remain in bondage. Without the blood, Israel would suffer the agony of death. Without the blood, Israel would experience the judgment of God. The key phase in this text is found in verse 13. It says: “when I see the blood, I will pass over you…” The application of the blood made all the difference. While I encourage you to read the entire chapter, I want to point out some key principles of what we see when we see the blood.

  1. We see the Judgment of God. There is no doubt that the blood acts as the protective agent against the wrath and judgment of God. We must never underestimate or devalue the power of God’s judgment. Is God loving? Yes! Does God care? Yes HE DOES! The fact that God is so loving does not deflect the fact that his wrath is kindled toward sin and disobedience. The blood is required when it comes to being protected from the wrath of God. Because when God sees the blood he passes over without passing judgment.
  2. We see the Sacrifice of an Innocent Lamb. In order to live something had to die. Do you and I fully understand this? I am afraid we do not! The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Because our sin has such a high price so does the atonement. In order to go free then Jesus had to die. Freedom is not free. It cost the life of an innocent Jesus. Jesus is our sacrificial lamb that died so that judgment and wrath would not visit our lives.
  3. We see a Significant Victory. It is through the blood that Israel experienced victory over the bondage of Egypt. Likewise, it the blood of Jesus will be what gives victory over the bondage of Satan. If a person desires victory then it will come through the blood of Jesus.

There is a reason the blood of Jesus seems so offensive. It is because it exposes us to our depravity. Salvation requires the shedding of blood. It is a gory scene. It is also a beautiful scene. God gave his Son, the Son gave his blood, and the beggar (like me!) gets to go free. It was the blood, it still is the blood and it will always be the blood that sets sinners free. Without it we will remain in sin’s bondage and under Satan’s control. Thank God for the Blood!!!

The Name of Jesus

Have you ever considered the Biblical power within the name, Jesus? I get the fact that many misuse it. I also get the fact that many do not understand the power within such a name. I really do not think people realize the degree of victory that comes with operating in the name of Jesus.

Philippians 2:5-11  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  6  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  7  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  8  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  9  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  10  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and the earth;  11  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The first thing that we need to see is the Purpose of the Name. Jesus was a name given to him by God. He was not conceived by man nor was he named by man. He was named by God. The name Jesus literally means “Jehovah is Savior”. His name was given to him because his purpose was to bring salvation to humanity. His name reveals his purpose as the savior.

The second thing we notice is the Position of the Name. God gave him a name that is positioned above every name. I find it amazing at the process by which he earned such a lofty position. Jesus was selfless, a servant, and then became a sacrifice. This is normally not the credentials that one would use in order to build a name for themselves. In this we are taught a valuable lesson that promotion only comes from God. If you want to be exalted by God then we all had better get real humble. That is why he says “let this mind be in you.” We are to operate with the same kind of mindset.

The last thing we want to focus on is the Power of the Name. There is tremendous power in the name, Jesus. First comes the power to submit. Under the authority of the name, Jesus, powers in heaven, earth, and under the earth will bow and confess him as Lord. His name has the power to bring forces of evil under His subjection. It is at his name that Satan and his demons tremble. Secondly, comes the power to save. Romans 10:13 says teaches us that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. There is nothing more powerful and miraculous than a persons salvation. It is at that name that souls are saved. It is at that name that life transformation occurs.

There’s not a name like name Jesus.

Dangers of Distance

‘And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire. ‘ Mark 14:53-54

The call to follow Jesus is one of closeness. In this text we see Peter, one of Jesus’ “inner circle” disciples following Jesus from a distance. This distance that Peter created between Jesus and himself caused Peter a lot of trouble. This distance between Jesus and Peter caused Peter to deny Christ. If you were to read the narrative you could see how Peter eventually cursed while denying Jesus the third time. The Peter that walked on the water, the Peter that was on the Mount of Transfiguration and heard the voice of God, and the Peter that Jesus place the key to the Church around his neck was the one who denied Jesus. All of these supernatural experiences Peter experienced were while he was following Jesus closely. All of the sinful experiences occurred when Peter was following Jesus from a distance. What caused this distance between Peter and Jesus to become so dangerous?

  1. Distance Distorts Sight. It is hard to measure size from a distance. While flying in an airplane the most massive of buildings can seem very small because we are looking at each of them from a very long way away. What does this mean? The bigger we see God the more confidence we will have during the moments when our faith is put the test. This means the closer we get to God the bigger he will become.
  2. Distance Drowns Sound. The further away we get from something the harder it is to hear them. We can get so far away from God that we cannot hear from God. It is a dangerous thing to get so far away from God that we can no longer hear his voice calling us.
  3. Distance Delivers Sadness. Peter’s denial cause him much weeping. The distance created coldness, therefore causing him the need to warm himself by the world’s fire. The coldness created a denying spirit which in turn produced sadness.

Over the past few months our church has been studying the Book of Hosea verse by verse. It is an eye opening experience to see what God feels when his children live their lives at a distance from God. I challenge you to read the Book of Hosea and listen to the harsh words God uses against those that rebel, disobey, and ignore the Word of God. Distance is what creates an attitude of disobedience and rebellion. Distance is dangerous. I would urge the believer that may be drifting away and can still hear the voice of God to run quickly back into his presence. I am afraid there are many followers weeping bitter tears because of the distance they have created between them and the Lord.

I would challenge you to go read the Book of Acts. Especially the first three or four chapters. Peter teaches us a valuable lesson. Mistakes do not have to define us. Distance does not have to be permanent. God can bring us back into a close relationship with him. James 4:8 “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you…”