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…”


My Hallelujah

Have you ever realized just how valuable this can be in your life? Please do not undervalue the power of the hallelujah. The word “hallelujah” is synonymous with the word found in Revelation 19:1 “alleluia”. The word itself literally means “praise the Lord”. You must see that the “hallelujah” is our anthem of praise. If there was ever a universal phrase then it would “praise the Lord”. We must never underestimate the power of praise.

We can lose so much within the scope of our lives. The circumstances we encounter within this life can take away our finances, destroy our families, or diminish our future. The fact remains that one thing that cannot be taken away is the Hallelujah. If someone or something steals my praise, then it will be because I allowed it to happen. Consider Job for a moment. He lost everything. His health, wealth, and family were taken from him. His own wife told him to curse God and die. In the midst of the most difficult, frustrating, and painful moment of his life Job was able to look to the heavens and declare the words “the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away. blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job gives us an example of the power of praise while tragedy is on every corner. Think in terms of Paul and Silas. They were stuck in the prison. While chained to one another, they considered themselves free because they knew that the one thing they that could not be taken away was their praise. Their hallelujah broke the chains and changed lives. What does all this mean? It means that my hallelujah is mine. Its mine if someone or something takes it from me will be because I allow it to be taken from me.

My hallelujah is based on my perspective of God. You and I must understand that regardless of things being bad, God is still good. When “it” is not good, God is always good. My hallelujah has power. My hallelujah ushers in God’s presence (he inhabits the praise of his people). My hallelujah was given to me by God through the power of the cross. My anthem of praise is not dictated by my circumstance, but rather my relationship with the Lord. I would like to close with the lyrics to the song “What can take away my Hallelujah”



Where Does a Soldier Belong?

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. ‘ 2 Timothy 2:3

This has been a thought that has been weighing on me the past few days. Throughout the Bible God references Christians in comparison with a soldier. Our lives are considered being in a war. Sometimes I think Christians feel like this is some game that is played. On the contrary, being a Christian means we are in a war and the losing could cost us our lives. We had better take this seriously.

There are three marks of a good soldier:

  1. Good soldiers are Driven: They are motivated by their cause. As Christians we have a cause that should drive us. We must be driven by Christ and his commission.
  2. Good soldiers are Durable: The verse teaches us that Christian soldiers are to be able to endure hardness. I am honestly beginning to wonder just how durable we Christians in America have become. Being in a war requires the ability to endure the most severe of circumstances.
  3. Good Soldiers are Disciplined: The Christian soldier must be disciplined. There are so many distractions in this life and we have to maintain a sense of discipline as we go to war against the tactics of the enemy.

What is the point of the title? Well all this brings me to the question: “where does the Christian Soldier belong?” They belong on the battle field. Christians belong on the front lines. We are not spectators but we are participators. Injured Christians are not suppose to dwell in the infirmary, we are to be patched up and get back out there. We are required to fight the fight of faith. We are commanded to endure hardness. We are not meant to be living a life of prosperity, and popularity. We are called, trained, and sculpted to be in the Lord’s army. You get that right? We are in the Lord’s army! With a commander and chief as the Lord who would not want to be where he is. We are in a war and the soldier belongs on the battle field. By the way…just a heads up…I have read the end of the Bible…we WIN! The victory is ours! Now, get back out there on the front lines and be the good soldiers we are called to be.

A Measurement of Godliness

How would you measure a person’s Godliness? Would you consider their appearance? Would you measure it by their faithfulness to Church? Would you measure it by their time spent praying and reading their Bibles? Would you measure it by their evangelistic efforts? Those are all good measurements of what we are suppose to do and be as Christians, however; I believe God has a different measuring stick of godliness. Please understand that I am not undermining the above practices. I believe Christians that should live in a way that is pleasing to God. I just think this aspect of Christianity is overlooked and in many cases is viewed contrary to the way it is presented in Scripture.

The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:12 that “…all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” The first time I read this piece of scripture I said to myself: “Lord I am not suffering that much.” The answer I received back from the Holy Spirit was life changing. The response I received from God’s Spirit was “then that should tell exactly how godly you are actually living.” In other words, what if God measures our godliness by the extent of suffering and persecution we encounter and endure? Please know that this is just as difficult for me to write as it is for you to read. I also realize that living in a free country makes persecution look different than it would in a country where being a Christian is illegal. While living in America we may not be faced with imprisonment or physical harm, but when we live for the Lord on a public level we will face levels of rejection, criticism, and adversities.

We must understand that suffering and persecution are not elective courses but required realities of life. Those that have desire to follow Jesus Christ must accept the fact that we have to take up our cross and then follow Jesus. (Luke 9:23). Jesus promised and predicted that if the world hated him, it will also hate us. What does this means? It means that living a godly lifestyle comes with a cost. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are able willing to accept the cost. If not Jesus says we cannot be his disciples. (Luke 14:25-27)

A New Thing

‘Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. ‘ Isaiah 43:18-19

This is one of the more encouraging and challenging verses in my life at the this time. God has me in a season where I believe he has “new things” springing up all over the place. This piece of scripture has been working on me for a while. Matter of fact, it is a verse that is hanging on my wall right now.

We all like new things, however we do not always enjoy the process of getting there. God wants to make a way in our wilderness. God has promised rivers in the dessert. The Lord wants to do a new thing, but there are some principles we must embrace in order to see this promise come to fruition.

  1. Forget the Past: If we are not careful we can allow the past to paralyze us. It is not about just forgetting past mistakes, but we have to forget past miracles. If we want God to do a new thing then we must not expect God to do something in this season that he did in a previous season. Our expectations can cause a barriers on our faith.
  2. God is still God: God is not bound by our circumstances. God is not bound by anything other than His word, and he said within his word that he can exceed anything we can ask or imagine. Whatever; you can imagine God can exceed it. We need to always remember that God is not intending on meeting our expectations, but desires to exceed them.
  3. Focus on the Source and not the System: God’s promises are not dictated by a process. You see, he wants to make a way in a place there has never been a way created. He wants to bring resources from the most obscure of places.

The reason many of us cannot see God is because we are not looking in the right direction. If we want to see new things in a new season then we need to quit boxing God up based on what he has done in our past. He is God and operates outside our reasoning, logic and comprehension. Will you set out to believe that God will do new miracles in a new manner?

Attitude!

‘Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord , my strength, and my redeemer.’ Psalms 19:14

I was reminded during our chapel service about the value of having the right attitude. A young man from Africa by the name of Edouard Ndecky came and spoke to our young people about having a right attitude. The Holy Spirit used this young African sprinter to help me assess the importance of maintaining a good attitude.

In Psalm 19:14 the psalmist ask the Lord to allow the words of his mouth and the meditation of his heart be acceptable and pleasing in the sight of the Lord. What effects the words of our mouth and the intentions of our hearts? Our attitude! The words of our mouth are direct reflection of our attitude. The way we respond to situations, circumstances, and people is a direct indication of our attitude. When we have a response that is critical, negative, or condescending it represents a bad attitude. Our attitude is a reflection of the condition of the heart. I guess you can say it like this “whatever is in the well will come out in the bucket.” It is easy to have a good attitude when things are good ( I have encountered a few people that just have the gift of negativity…no matter how good it gets they will always have a bad attitude), but it is very difficult to maintain a good attitude when things are bad. So, how do we maintain a positive, Lord pleasing attitude regardless of our circumstance?

I believe our attitude is centered on one basic principle: Our attitude is a choice. While we are unable to control our circumstance, we can control our attitude. Everyone of us have an attitude, and it is up to us whether we have good attitude or bad attitude. We have a tendency to allow our circumstances and other people dictate our attitude when our attitude should be effecting our outlook on life. Circumstances change with the wind, but our attitude can remain a constant. It is a matter of perspective. I want to also say that our attitude is a matter of our view of God. Is God good? Is God good all the time? Is God good no matter what the circumstances? If we truly believe the answer those questions is yes then our attitude will reflect it.

I would be lying if I said this was easy. Matter of fact, as I write this I am convicted because my attitude is not good. I guess that is why God is making me write this. I told a friend the other day that God is still showing me new levels of self that he wants to remove. I will end with this prayer: “Lord will you please help me to make the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight. Will my response to my wife, kids, family and friends be a reflection of a deep intimate relationship with you Lord? God, will you help me show people your goodness, and greatness through my attitude?” I love you Lord! Now I pray my attitude will reflect it!” AMEN