Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Return of the Demon

By the time that Jesus told this story, he had found consistant and obstinant resistance against most of the religious leadership, possibly even worse than the prophets that the religious leaders were back in the day when they killed off God’s other spokespeople. This story comes right after the stubborn religious leaders asked Jesus for a sign, like he hadn’t performed several in front of them already.
So here is the story, told in modern language. You can find it in Matthew 12:43-45.

One day a demon went out of a person, and it passed through waterless places seeking rest, but it didn’t find any. So it said, “I will return to my house from which I came.” And when it returned, it found the house empty, swept, and put in order. That excited the demon, so it went and brought with it seven other demons more evil than itself, and they entered and dwelt there, and the last state of that person is worse that he was before. 

And so it was with the evil generation that Jesus lived in.

Here are a couple of thoughts that I have gleaned from this passage:
1. Some believe that demons, evil spirits love water, and the people in Canaan believed that in Jesus’ day. In fact, most still believe this today. They believe that evil dwells in water aka the abyss. Today, Jewish fishermen stay close to shore because of this. Is this true? I know that in this story, Jesus at least consedes or uses this belief in the story. I am not sure if he believed it or not, albeit the pigs in the Gaderenes ran into the abyss.
2. What does a cleaned and ordered house mean? Jesus was speaking against the religious folk who were very legalistic. They thought that by keeping a list of dos and don’ts, they could be in good order and please the Lord. However, although they had all their religious ducks in a row, there was no one dwelling INSIDE, no “strong man” to keep these demons out. Today, being religious or being a “good person”, although no one is good except God, can set you up for brutality. You need someone to dwell INSIDE of you. Someone stronger than you. That person who is stronger is Jesus. Religion without a relationship with Jesus is of no benefit. Moral people can still go to Hell forever. YOU and I need a strong man, the man Jesus. 
3. When someone becomes proud of themself and their religousness, pride sets in, if not something far worse. Have you evern known a legalist to treat people with hate/contempt? Not realizing that they sin too? How healthy is that for society?  We need to realized that we are broken together, and that we all need a strong man to save us. We all need, and can enjoy him dwelling in us, making us actually a temple, in which he dwells. 
4. Yes, do good, live right. But let it begin with a love for Jesus and let His Spirit work with you to transform you to reflect Jesus inside and outside. What a wonderful person Jesus is. If I could pick someone to become like, it would be him. 
5. Am I saying that you should not accept yourself for who YOU are? Yes and no.
A. You should accept that you are made in God’s image, are precious to him, and he longs for a relationship with you.
B. You should also accept that you miss the mark of perfection so often, and that by yourself you will never obtain it. Accept that you are also broken and need saving.

You have to accept the good and the bad. And this bad, needs to bring up you becoming discontent with who you are in the badness. And then wisely realize and admit that you need help.

C. You also need to accept this truth about yourself, that you are seperate from God and will be condemned because a lot of what you do and a lot of who you are is very hurtful and destructive. Oh, you may not be someone who causes great destruction, like an abortion doctor, or a terrorist, but you do cause plenty of pain, or have caused a lot of pain in the past. And, just as those guys need saving, so do YOU and so do I. 
6. If you are in Christ and Christ is in you, you are safe, you are righteous, you have become a child of God, you are forgiven, you are a saint/a holy person, you have a great destiny and future, and you do not need to fear evil. In fact, you can say, “Greater is the one who is in me, than he who is in the world!” Because in Christ, God himself dwells in you. And you are His temple. And in that, you can find rest, and s tey. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

If we are forgiven in Christ, then why is there a Judgment Seat of Christ?

If Our Sins are Forgiven in Christ, Then Why a Judgment Seat?

A friend asked me this question the other day, so I want to dig into this.
I remember back in college age days where I would give an answer quickly, so that I seemed competent. But, as Jesus grows in me a desire to care for people, I take more time with these answers. Wayne Grudem impacted me in how he was so careful to be thoughtful in his answers when I had him as a professor at Trinity Seminary. He would often say, “Let me get back to you.” And then he actually would. So, I have learned to give it thought and prayer, unless the answer is obvious. And even if it is obvious, people are too important not to give them some thought and not to take them to the Lord before answering. So, now you know the background, let’s dig into the study.

Questions I want to answer in this blog:
1. Are our sins (past, present, and future) forgiven in Christ?
2. What is the judgment seat of Christ and what happens there?
3. How now shall we live?

1. Are our sins (past, present, and future) forgiven in Christ? Yes.
All of us have sin and fallen short of God’s glorious standard (Rom. 3:9-20, 23), and therefore, because we are not perfect and are guilty of sin (James 2:10), we stand condemned before a holy God (John 3:18, Luke 8:12).

So what do we do about this? Do we all spend eternity in conscious separation and suffering apart from God, like the Bible teaches (Rev. 21:8, Matt. 25:46, Psalm 9:17, 2 Thess. 1:9, Matt. 13:42, 50, Mk. 9:43, Jude 1:7)? Or is there another option?

God has taken the initiative in this. There is something we can do. God has provided a remedy.
Let me lay this out in a story of a guy named Joe. Joe, like all of us, is guilty before a perfect, holy, and righteous God. In fact, internally he knows that God cannot look on evil favorably (Habbakuk 1:13), and that he is still in his sin. However, he also knows that around 33AD God took initiative and sent His Son, Jesus/Yahweh the Savior into the world to pay the price for our sins by dying on a cross (Romans 5:8) and that through this death Christ satisfied God’s wrath through paying the price for the worlds sin (1 Peter 3:18). And that through faith in Christ, trusting in Christ, believing in Christ, looking to Christ for salvation, that gift is ratified to Joe (John 3:16-18) and that if he doesn’t trust Christ, he remains in a condemned state because of disbelief, and blowing off this wonderful sacrifice. So what does Joe do? He is faced with a choice, to look to Jesus and be saved or to blow off Jesus and remained guilty, with no sacrifice for sin being credited to His account. Joe wisely chooses Jesus. And because Joe has chosen Jesus, and embraced him, the promise of Psalm 103:12 and John 1:12 applies to him. Praise God! Furthermore, what Joe doesn’t realize yet is that he is also sealed in that state (Ephesians 1:11-14).

2. What is the Judgment Seat of Christ and what happens there?
So, seeing that our sins are forgiven: past, present, and future (by the way, “sin” is an archery term that means to miss the mark/target/bullseye. It is to fly at 30,000 feet when Jesus flies at 40,000 feet for example.), why do we have to stand before this JSC?
A. Verses that talk about JSC:
Luke 19:11-27, Romans 14:10-12, 1 Cor. 3:10-4:5, 2 Cor. 5:1-10, Jn. 2:28, 1 Cor. 3:8, Php. 1:21,23, Heb. 9:27, Mt. 16:27, Rev. 22:12, Rev. 12:3, 1 Thess. 1:3, 2 Thess. 1:11)
B. The JSC is NOT the Great White Throne Judgment in Revelation 20.
C. It is known as the Behma Seat.
D. So let’s dig into these verses:

Luke 19:11-27- This passage talks about a general response from the business man. He rewarded the faithfulness of some and for one, he condemned. So, those in Christ seem to receive a situation of reward, not nit-pick.

Romans 14:10-12- The Judgment seat of God is a place where all of us will give an account to God. So, here Paul encourages us not to pass judgment on people. This verse doesn’t mean that we aren’t to challenge and confront one another. Rather, we are not to condemn one another.

1 Cor. 3:10-4:5- It is a time to see the quality of the persons works, and a time for commendation IF there is anything to commend.

2 Cor. 5:1-10- There is a day where we must all appear before the JOC to receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. There is a “paycheck” for our labor. Then, the context of verse 11 says, “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to....God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.”
Let me extrapolate- We are God’s children, forgiven in Christ. Well....God knows if we are and Paul hopes we know if we are. BUT, if we are, we receive the “Crown of Life” and it is a joyful day. But what if we are people who have Christ and are therefore positionally holy (clean) but practically not perfected? First, none of us have reached practical perfection. I believe it will be a time of great joy as we see Jesus! But why then will Paul mention “evil”? I think there is not payout for deeds done in sin (ie pride, self-promotion, etc). Also, to be in heaven, to dwell with Jesus, we have to be perfect. And therefore, if we are allowed into Heaven, then even our evil deeds are not held against us, otherwise we couldn’t enter.

1 Cor. 3:8- There seems to be a reception of wages for the work in evangelism and discipleship.

Heb. 9:27-28- We all will face judgment, however, when Christ comes he will save those who eagerly wait for him. What if someone professes Christ, is even baptized, but does not eagerly wait for Him?
Here are my thoughts: 1) this person is distracted by the weeds of life, and has lost the light of hope, being weighed down, 2) this person does not have a depth of understanding and needs discipleship, or 3) this person is really unconverted, and does not hope in Christ.
I know that for me, personally, I know I am imperfect, and that most likely half of what I do has selfish motives BUT I am so excited about Jesus to return or for me to be with Him, that this excitement overwhelms any fear. And, if I notice a sin, I confess, repent, and adjust my life to live right.

Mt. 16:27- I take that generally as a judgment depending on what they did with Jesus.

Rev. 22:12- Echos Matthew 16:27

3. How now shall we live?
So, for the believer, is the JSC a time for fear? Nope. I think it is a time of joy.
We already know that we are not at the Great White Throne, and that our sins have been removed from us, otherwise, we would stand condemned. We do not stand condemned, and that is great news. In fact, we will receive various rewards depending on if our works in the Lord were pure.

I was a manager. Annually I would do an employee review. However, I loved my employees and unless there was a dramatic problem (which I would have talked to them about many times), they were secure in their employment. In fact, I felt that an annual review was actually a review, in part, of my leadership of my employees. When an employee sat in front of me, I would praise them for the good work they had done, and I would also challenge them to develop in any area they were deficient.

In part, the JSC is similar. We are His children, our sin has been paid for, Christ’s precious blood applied to our account. We will receive praise and reward for work, we will not receive reward for sin. And my example falls short, because I am not as good of a person and as loving a person and not nearly as healthy as the Lord. He is good, and holy, and loving, and healthy. So how much more can we trust him and look forward to seeing Him and becoming more like Him for all eternity!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Stubborn Habits: Maya & the Tree

We have a dog named Maya. She can't resist barking and biting our tree.
Here is her story.

One thing Maya loves to do is bark up the tree & bite the bark. We don't like her biting the bark. We don't like her barking a lot either.
So, we've put fences around the tree, we've attempted to train her, we've given her correction. Currently, we have both a fence and a bark collar. However, these measures occasionally (3x a day) still doesn't stop her. She can't resist the tree.
The only thing that seems to work is to go outside and yell at her when she heads toward that tree.
I have thought about getting rid of her so she doesn't kill the tree, because we like that tree. But we love Maya, so we wouldn't do that over a tree.

This got me thinking about myself, and other people who are striving to obey Jesus.
1. We know that we are loved, and that we are in the family because of Jesus work (Ephesians 2:8-10, John 3:16-18).  Kind of like Maya, our rescued dog. It wasn't because of Maya's behavior that we adopted her. Out of gracious mercy and generosity we adopted her into our family. She doesn't earn her keep, rather, she has our keep. She is a part of our "pack" not because of anything she has done, but because of loving grace. So, she doesn't have to do certain things to remain in the pack (and this is where the illustration falls short) unless she hurts or attacks one of the people in our "pack". She is safe, she is loved.
2. Do you have any trees, that the Lord has told you not to "bite the bark" on? Are there any stubborn habits that you keep going back to, but know the Lord doesn't want you to? I have those.
3. I have put up fences (Proverbs 7:24-27), have read the commands and desires of my Father, have been corrected by others, and I have even used "bark collars" to help me create a good boundary away from the trees. Now I will say that I have less trees than I use to. As I grew up in Christ, I lost interest in some of these, because my desire to enjoy close fellowship with Jesus became greater. But I still have a few trees. Some I know about, and others the Lord probably has not pointed out yet. I am like the homeowner and Maya in this story.
4. When I am mindful of the Lord's voice, I stay away from the trees. But it takes focus and it takes perspective. My default is to bite the trees, but there is also a part of me that doesn't want to bite them.
5. So what did Jesus teach about things that cause you to bite trees? He taught us to radically amputate. So we either move to a yard with no trees, put up an impeccable barrier around the tree, or cut down the tree (Matthew 5:27-30). To be honest, part of me still likes to bite the trees (I call it the flesh) and part of me never wants to bite a tree again (I call that the spirit) (ie Romans 7).

What will you do to quit biting the trees the Lord told you not to?

6. Maya apparently cannot learn this behavior on her own. She needs us, the tree needs us, to help her. So, we cannot desire or successfully stay away from things without the help of our Master. I am glad he is engaged and helps. 
Feel free to comment below.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Psychology of the Disciples

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us' and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete." 
-1 John 1:1-4, ESV

Question: "How can you believe all of this Jesus stuff? How do we even know Jesus existed?" 
This is a question that I have been asked. There are many angles to take to answer but I want to look at the TESTIMONY of the disciples today and think about their situation for a moment. 

1. Say Jesus & John were in colaboration to make this whole thing up. 
Say John the Baptist and Jesus got together one day, while they were young, and thought, "I know, Jesus why don't you say that you are the Messiah, and I will say that I am the forerunner or Elijah that they have talked about. People will believe in us and we will be famous!
Then they start out. John moves to the desert, decides to wear camel hair, eat honey & locusts, and baptize people. He did become pretty famous, but what a hard life that would have been.
Then Jesus starts going around preaching and telling people to follow him. Unfortunately he was from Nazareth, a disrespected community. How long do you think people would have followed him? Also, he knew early on that he would end up dying on a cross. Would you, knowing that you would die in obscurity on a cross continue with some scheme like this, unless there was some huge advantage?

2. His disciples- so these guys who had a descent career in fishing, collecting taxes, fighting against Rome, etc. decide to follow some guy who is bold and charismatic. Ok, a lot of people follow bold and charismatic leaders. But, to what end? They knew they would suffer, but they firmly believed that there was great eternal reward. Now think about this...why would they believe that this was true? Did Jesus back up his claims?
3. Would anyone continue to suffer for what they knew was a lie?
People will die for what they BELIEVE to be true perhaps, but very few will die for what they KNOW to be a lie, although some may do so. 

4. What was the advantage?
So what was the advantage of being a follower of Jesus in that day?  Did they get rich? No. Did they become admired? No. Did they receive honor? No. Did they die happy? Yes. 
These followers of Jesus were told that He did not come to overthrow the Romans, they saw that some people, particularly the powerful rejected him. They went about homeless and walked a lot. They were kicked out of places, they watched their leader be beaten, tortured, and die in obscurity on a cross, they left their livelihoods, they were kicked out of fellowship because of Christ, they were abused, maligned, ridiculed, tortured, had to flee for their lives, some were stoned, crucified, light on fire, and had to flee for their life. What was their advantage? Why did they continue to follow? 
So think about it. Why would they go through all of this if they knew that Jesus was false. 

5. The New Testament
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, 1 John, James, Revelation, Hebrews, Acts, etc...
These words were all written before 96AD, while those who had seen, heard, touched, and new Jesus were still around. Those who followed Jesus, those who hung around him, all support these testimonies and books. The miracles that were recorded to show that He was the Christ, were all confirmed by his followers, all men who value truthfulness, and keep from lies. Those in the early church, the several hundred that admired Jesus, all support these words. In fact, there are things in these books, that if not true, would have not been added because it doesn't make things seem glorious. For example Epic stories share epic events. The New Testament also shows the failures of these men. 

6. The Apostle Paul
Paul was a Jewish religious leader, and very intelligent. He had wealth, power, position, respect, and was a lead persecuter of the Christians. Something sudden happened in his life that radically changed him. He claims that he had an encounter with the resurrected Jesus Christ. And he died for that belief. He left everything for that belief! Why? What did he hope to gain that he didn't already have? Was there something lacking in his life that he needed?  Admitting Christ would essentially mean leaving everything, giving everything up in order to live a persecuted life. No one does that unless they are sure of what they have seen!

7. Who were these guys? 
Were they ignorant apes who didn't know much and were therefore easily manipulated? Well, looking at their writing style, I would say they were smart men, especially Luke, a doctor, and Paul a religious leader. 

8. Here is the bottom line-
During my years in college, one night I was enjoying a Mountain Dew and hanging out on Culby 2, in our dorm. A man, whom I never met, came up to me and said, "I am Jesus, follow me." 
What do you think my response was? 
I pulled my cup from my lip, gently looked at him, with stern eyes, and said, "Prove it." 
He couldn't, and that is why I didn't follow him. 

9. What about other cult leaders that people follow, though they are dead?
Joseph Smith & Brigham Young are two of my favorites, because although they are dead, their belief system remains. Most contemporaries to JS believed that he was a story teller and a crack pot, long before he came up with these secret tablets. Also, both of these men JS & BY, have made end time prophecies that have not come true, as well as other prophecies that have not come true. In my opinion, someone who makes false prophecies is a.......false prophet. And because they have, I will not rightly follow them. That being said, when Mormons actually learn this, many leave. 
Jesus, on the other hand, has been attacked for two thousand years, yet remains impeccable. There are no skeletons or contradictions in his closet. 
Muhammad, this will probably get me killed, but if I can help someone see through the dross of life, and come to Jesus, it is worth it. Anyhow, I have studied the Quran and the history of Muhammad. In the Quran you see a progressive change of thought in which one thought contradicts another. For example, early on you see that the Jews & Christians are both considered friends and "people of the book". Later you see Jews are anathema but Christians are still considered friends and "people of the book". Then later, both are considered enemies. Also, the history of Muhammad & his life leave him looking dubious. That is why I reject Islam. Plus, they teach people to follow Jesus in the Quran, but then go against what he teaches. This is inconsistent, therefore it doesn't work, and is clearly man made. Plus, it doesn't ever put itself on the line with specific prophecy, like the Bible does. 

So these are some thoughts. Something that frustrates me is when someone says that the Bible and Jesus' disciples are just made up. Also, when someone says that the Bible was changed and manipulated at some later church council. To me, this shows ignorance, and proves that this person has not looked into these things, but is parroting something someone else parroted. In my judgment, either these people are too lazy to look into it, or feel too ashamed to admit that they are really not as good as they thought they were, or don't want to admit that Jesus is the Christ because that would mean they may have to change some things, OR they are just mad at God, so by denying His existence, they can get some type of revenge, which actually just ends up hurting themselves.

So, either these men and women have given a good report and are following the Savior of the world, OR they are, at best, completely insane & to be pitied more than most men. 

If they are wrong, they die believing a lie. If they are right, which I firmly believe that they would have to be, then they have forgiveness of sin, eternal life with Jesus, and purpose for living that transcends their selfish moods.

Rather, what if they weren't making it up? What if this is an accurate account? What if they took great effort to accurately record what they have seen, heard, tasted, touched, and handled? What if Jesus did all the things they have written and contemporaries agreed to? Could that be possible? I believe it can, and is the only possibility. I believe that no one would have laid so much on the line, unless it is what they actually experienced....unless the whole lot of them were insane, which is highly unlikely.

So, am I basing my life, my career, and my future on the testimony of the apostles and NT authors? Yes. Because I believe that these accounts have stood the test of time, and the hard test of their contemporaries, who valued truthfulness in everything.

What about you?
Choose a valid option in regards to their testimony/the words of the New Testament. Choose one:
1. They were made up because...
2. They are accurate records, but I don't want to change my life.
3. They are accurate records, and I want Jesus.

4. (Not valid) These stories were changed over time, over years of translation.
Option 4 is not valid, which I have already addressed, as have many textual scholars. If you missed it, I can get it to you. But, know that only the first 3 are even considered options.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

How to Handle the guy holding the "need money" sign

After thinking and praying about it, here are my thoughts on the person who keeps asking us for money-

Matthew 5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’

39 But I say to you,

Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, [a] let him have your cloak as well.

41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Notes on verse:

38 – Jesus is referring to the lex talionis, the law of retribution. See Exodus 21:22-25, “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”  This is part of the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law was the “Law of the Land” for Israel. It is similar to the USA Constitution and Bill of Rights, and even state laws. The Mosaic Law is a legal code. This is not a right or suggestion that personal revenge is an option. In Jesus’ day, people may have been saying, “Get justice from the courts swiftly, if you have been harmed. Don’t let people get away with taking advantage of you!”

39- Jesus is bringing a deeper teaching, an explanation on the Torah. He is commentating, yet more than commentating, for he is the author of the Torah.

“Do not”- this is not a suggestion here, it is an imperative a command.

“Resist”-anti-histamine. To stand, bid, and uphold against.

“turn to him the other”- from my studies and listening to godly men on this, this has to do with actually turning around and walking away. In that culture, people are right-handed (or at least learn to be). So in order for them to slap you on the other cheek again, your back would have to be turned to them. “Turn around and walk away” “flee”. “allow yourself to be humiliated”.  To quote a famous, though troubled public figure, Gandhi, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” Although this is a contestation of God’s word, and a clear misunderstanding of it, the desire for personal revenge is being rightly challenged here.

40- This is where it gets tough, and challenges human emotion/ the flesh. If someone wants x from you in a court of law, don’t only give him what he asks, give him more. I did this once with a neighbor, and I won a continuing friendship. We didn’t go to court, it was a “your kids broke my….I want $40.” We gave them $100. I am not saying it will always work well, but it is great fun to take Jesus up on his teaching and watch what happens. Our hopes is that pragmatically, it would “heap coals” on their head, for this injustice. Instead, it built a friendship with some good people.

41- We use the phrase, “Go the extra mile!” today. When I worked at McDonald’s we had a, “Go the extra smile” campaign. I thought it was a blast! In this context, according to commentators, Jesus is referring to Roman Soldiers who would force you to walk with them. This is also a grate against our flesh! I wonder what it would take to do this out of joy.  The Life Application Bible Commentary on Matthew says, “In an unequal power situation, you have no choice about the first mile. The soldier has the sword, so you carry his gear. And it’s a mile and an hour you can never get back. You’re the loser. What’s to be done? The second mile is your choice. It’s your way of saying, “God is in control here. He gives me energy, and a mere mile does not exhaust me. That sword is nothing; God is everything. Do you want to know where the real power lies? Try to keep up with me and I’ll tell you.”

42- THIS one is the toughest for me. My immediate rebuttal is, “But Jesus, what about the person on the corner who may use it to buy Meth or booze?” and “Do we have to give to everyone who asks, without question?” So what do I do? Well, I have struggled with this verse since 1994, living in the inner-city. I struggle with it every time I stop at an intersection and someone is holding a sign asking for help. I struggle with it when a passerby asks me for money for whatever. Does my giving enable them? Do I contribute to the problem? I asked Shane Claiborne, the author of “Irresistible Revolution”, what he thought about this. He thought it was a very good, hard question, and referred me to Mike Yankoski, author of, “Under the Overpass”. I have not asked him yet.

“Give”- this is an imperative! It is a command, not an option for the follower of Jesus.

“turn around”- do not turn away from that person. I have done this, and I have experienced grief for doing so, knowing that it was the Lord I had grieved.

“borrow”- to lend money, to loan them a resource. Here is the caveat to “give to whoever”. It is a borrowing not a giving. (although if they can’t or won’t repay, we should let that slide. But that is a different discussion.) I would say, do not just give, but have expectation. Expectation that they will return the money (without interest), or expectation that they will work for it, or expectation that they will allow us to give them counsel. Doing this is a greater help.

The question is are the phrases “Give to the one who asks” and “Do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” the same person or are these two DIFFERENT situations? I don’t think they have to be.

The Life Application Bible Commentary on Matthew adds, “Jesus’ followers should have a generous spirit. Because they loosely hold on to their personal rights and possessions, they can freely give when the need arises and won’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow.”

So what if someone, who is not from the church, asks for money? I think we attach strings to it! Here are some of my thoughts:

Option 1.  We loan it to them, expecting an interest free repayment, getting their information such as address & phone number. This can be done warmly. (I would hope for repayment, but if they don’t repay, we absorb it).

Option 2. We loan it to them, with the stipulation of meeting with them for financial counsel.

Option 3. We have them, depending on the case, do work around the church to pay it off.

Option 4. Go grocery shopping for them, or go WITH them to get a gift/gas card. This allows us to build a relationship with them and share the gospel.

Option 5. Ask them if this is what they really need, or is there something “broken” that we can help them fix. This is an opportunity for the gospel to be shared!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Led Zeppelin and Jesus

Led Zeppelin wrote a famous song, "Stairway to Heaven" . In this song the lyric, "Yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there's still time to change the road you're on."

I agree with this, and I disagree with this lyric. I agree that God is faithful, good, forgiving, graceful, merciful, and wants ALL people to be saved from eternal fire. But pragmatically, some people head down a path & through it, harden their hearts, so they may not believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved. Can God do a miracle and help those people? Yes. Will he? I don't know. I do know that there are some who are ignorant, like Saul of Tarsus, and God powerfully changed them. I also know that there are also people like Eli's sons, who God did not change, but left them for judgment. So, what is the wisest way to live? To be a prudent person, who sees trouble and changes direction. And not be a foolish person, who sees trouble, and keeps on driving.

Today I am teaching Psalm 1 to our Children's Ministry team, and thought it would be good to share it.

Psalm 1 (ESV)
Blessed is the man[a]
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law[b] of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.


  1. Psalm 1:1 The singular Hebrew word for man (ish) is used here to portray a representative example of a godly person; see Preface
  2. Psalm 1:2 Or instruction

There are 2 roads, 2 paths, that 2 people walk on. Let's look at them:

Person #1- The blessed, happy man
Does not walk, stand, sit (notice that there is no progression into depravity for him).
Does find pleasure in Torah & he meditates on it. (conversely to meditate, which means to moan, growl, utter, muse, or speak under the breath, is the word "scoffers" which is actually the word Lilith- which is the female goddess known as a night demon who haunts the desolate places of Edom. This word can also refer to night animals such as the screech owl. In todays lingo, this would be translated as someone who slinks around in the dark and screeches at what is good, a scoffer.)
This man is strong, prospers & has intimacy with His God. God is on the path he is on, which refers to God's presence and blessing.

Person #2- The wicked, worthless (chaff) man
Does not stand in the judgment, or in the gathering of the righteous
Does perish, is on the road to destruction.

God influences us, to a point, of choosing Path #1, to be person #1. But, we also have a choice to make. The predetermined path or end of our choices is already known and set. The question is, yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run....will there be time to change the road you are on? We don't know.

Time to ramble on (2nd Led Zeppelin quote)
Your life may last for 80 more years, it may last for 80 more seconds. So is there really always time to change? We don't know. We assume so, but I do know people who are now dead, who bought into the "I'll change later" philosophy. Which brings me to another point, can't a person be happy & blessed on Path #1? Absolutely! I have been on both paths. And person #1 can be happy without chemicals to make that happen, and they have no regret! What a much better path! Path #2 is a constant pursuit of trying to be happy, to find pleasure, to fill the god-sized hole in your heart. Path #1, in Christ, following His ways, leads to regret free living, leads to life, and is full of joy. Here is one reason why- living for yourself and your own pleasure will never bring pleasure or fulfillment, especially not on the other side of eternity. Been there, done that. Have the dead friends to prove it. Conversely, living for another (Jesus) gives purpose, simplifies life, and when you live for Jesus you will also live to help your fellow man, which is a double blessing. My constant thought is, "How can they live without Jesus?" Now, I am not saying that life will be Easy Street, in fact it may be harder. But for the right reasons and with transcending purpose. But it will be a life that brings purpose, fulfillment, joy, blessings, and hope. Hope that one day you will be with Jesus face to face and enjoy him forever.

So, here you are. How do you switch trails?
Email me at and I will walk you through it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Moving Beyond Shame

Moving Beyond Shame

Genesis 3

Here is my rough draft of a teaching.
Band of Brothers, men stuck in foxholes. Bullets wizzing overhead. The captain calls, "Get up and move out." Shellshocked, some cannot move. Then the Captain comes over and strengthens their spirit. The soldier is rejuvenated & moves out, inaffected by the violent sounds around him.

Satan is like an enemy. Shame an ammo of choice. With shame, he tries to keep forgiven men and women pinned down.
Satan has a plan, to steal life, effective work, kill people and destroy men and women. He intends to fill you with shame, and then leave you there, hopefully powerless, hidden behind a mask, and ineffective to do what God has called you to do. God has a different plan for those who sin, however!

Have you ever seen the birthday candles that keep relighting? You blow them out, move on with talking, and the little things spark back to life! Again you blow them out, again they spark to life. Shame is a lot like this. You deal with it, and sometimes it keeps sparking back shining for attention. So before we dig into moving beyond shame, let's remind ourselves what shame is.

Shame- a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.

Two distinct domains that shame is expressed are the consciousness of self as bad and the other is self as inadequate. ^ Edward Teyber; Faith Teyber (2010). Interpersonal Process in Therapy: An Integrative Model. Cengage Learning. p. 137. ISBN 0-495-60420-8.

It plays a central role in many psychological disorders as well, including depression, paranoia, addiction, and borderline conditions. Sexual disorders and many eating disorders are largely disorders of shame. Both physical abuse and sexual abuse also significantly involve shame.

Also, "...shame has been found to be a very strong predictor of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder...".[22]     ^ Susmita Thukral. "Understanding Shame and Humiliation in Torture". ORLJ 4859, Fall 2004, Teachers College, Columbia University.<"Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-03-14. Retrieved 2006-01-26. >

In some circles of psychology, shame is an enemy of progress. In the Judeo-Christian worldview, shame (not embarrassment-which is public) is to drive us to the precious cross! It should be a catalyst to progress, a warning light-letting us know that we need God’s help, grace, kindness, and righteousness. It lets us know that we need to cry out to God, due to wrong living. Then, when either coming to Jesus or being reminded that he bore our shame (Is. 53:3, 2 Cor. 5:21) can move past shame, and move on towards joy and effective living.

Question: Do you carry shame with you? What are you ashamed of? What is that stubborn sin that keeps creeping up, making it hard to mortify?

Do you carry the weight of shame over things that you have done? What are you going to do about it? Is there a way to be free from this shame, or is it something that will weigh you down for life? Is God willing to remove your shame?

Book & Look: Genesis 3

1. The sin: (3:1-6) What was Satan’s intent here? To help man, or to destroy man?

1 Now [u] the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,

3 but God said, [v] ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”

4  [w] But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.

5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit [x] and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, [y] and he ate.


1. disobeyed God (in their mind, heart, and action).

Mind- fruit>God,

heart- desired to taste it,

Actions- ate it, watched Eve eat it (failure in leadership), ate himself (either due to taste, or out of passion to be like Eve).

2. They also disobeyed the word of God to fulfill their own pleasures.

3. They also chose Satanic leadership over God’s leadership, thus doubting God’s good character.

4. They usurped the protective, good, caring, life-giving leadership of God, and stubbornly chose their own way of doing things.

We do this too. 

1. “Why do we do what we do? Because we want what we want.” (See James 1:14-15)

2. We have desires, in our flesh, that are of flesh (Galatians 5). Not all bad, but some that ignore God’s word, wisdom, and good leadership. So often, we are so quick to deny God, and seek to please the impulses of the flesh.  Thinking somehow, even momentarily, that that thing is better than God. Somehow thinking that we know better than God, thus setting ourselves up against him.

2. Their response: (3:7-8) nakedness, feeling/realizing they were exposed, shame, hide, not fulfilling what they were made for

 7  [z] Then the eyes of both were opened, [a] and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife [b] hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

1. Their EYES saw that something was terribly different.

2. Their MINDS knew that they were exposed (they were before but this was unknown to them)

3. Their EARS heard the convicting sound of the Lord walking toward them.

4. Their BODY responded by hiding through fig leaves and among the trees.

What was the response of shame? To hide. They covered themselves to try and mask the shame. Instead of doing what God had designed them to do (work the Garden) they were consumed with hiding.

A natural consequence of SIN is SHAME. People deal with shame, typically through hiding it. Do you do this too? Do you “mask” your shame?

1. Mask of self-image. Putting on public airs, or becoming image driven. (ie-Facebook, how you dress)

2. Mask of control. By controlling others. You can’t control your own sin, so you attempt to control the behavior and thoughts of others.

3. Mask of self-preservation/crisis control. Through extreme narcissism, you get so absorbed with your image, that it characterizes you.

4. Mask of blaming others or other things. Through justifying your behavior, saying that it isn’t really your fault (see Adam and Eve’s response)

5. Mask of self-defining. Through twisting what God says, thus attempting to minimize sin.

6. Mask of pity. Through self-lothing, hoping others will notice and have pity on you (ie narcissism).

7. Mask of domination. Through fault-finding, pointing out the sin in others so you don’t look as bad.

8. MOComparison. Through comparing yourself to someone other than God (ie “not as bad as Hitler”).

9. Mask of hiding. Through hiding in apathy. Giving up hope and choosing to live among trees.

3. God confronts them: (3:9-13)

9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, [c] because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

12 The man said, [d] “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?”

The woman said, [e] “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”


God knew what they did, knew they were hiding. Man hid from God, God took initiative to already move toward restoration. God’s heart is holy, but he also loves his creation, particularly people.

A. Question: What was the man afraid of?

B. God calls out the specific sin. A note here-

                1) Shame without a reason, is not healthy shame.

                2) When the Spirit convicts you of sin, it is specific.

C. Notice the blame-shifting, instead of accepting responsibility for their actions! Adam even passive-aggressively blames God for this! Sin results in shame, which results in hiding. They have put on figs, bushes, and blame-shifting as a cover at this point. 

D. Sin brought immediate separation from God. Yet, God still goes to the sinners!

E. The man blamed God and the woman, the woman blamed the serpent, and the serpent threw up his temporary hands and didn’t have a leg to stand on!

4. The consequences: (3:14-19) Judgement of the Serpent, consequences for woman (pain in childbirth, friction in marriage), consequences for the man (frustrating work, physical death).

14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and [f] dust you shall eat

all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and [g] her offspring; [h] he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Observations: 1) You can see this enmity in Revelation 12, 2) you can see God’s plan of redemption already! The word “seed” is singular and is one of the great Messianic prophecies.3) according to the Moody Commentary, the serpent was the only created being who was JUDGED.

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;

[i] in pain you shall bring forth children.

[j] Your desire shall be for your husband,

and he shall [k] rule over you.”

Observations: 1) increase pain in childbirth, 2) friction in marriage-first time the woman felt vexed by her husband. For the first time, he threw her under the bus, and became self-preserving at her expense.

Why did God do this? Why add pain?

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree [l] of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’:

[m] cursed is the ground because of you; [n] in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; [o] for you are dust, and [p] to dust you shall return.”

Observations: 1) God judged the ground, resulting in frustration in work, 2) physical death-mortality.

Why frustrate labor? I can see physical death as necessary (see Moody Commentary), because we would be stuck in a fallen state, effected by the consequences of sin, and the judgment on creation. This would be terrible! In fact, death has become a blessing for the created.

5. God’s response: (3:20-24) Notice what God does and does NOT say. He doesn’t leave them in their shame and in the bushes. He clothes them and puts them back to work.

20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

22 Then the Lord God said, [q] “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand [r] and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden [s] to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the [t] cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

God did NOT shame them and leave them in shame. God dealt with their shame by:

1. God provided clothes for them-killing an animal.

2. God removed them from the garden, protected them from returning, and sent them to do what he and she was created to do.

3. Sending His son to remove their shame permanently, by taking it upon the cross.

What should our response to all this be?

1. All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

2. We are all guilty (Isaiah 59:2, Rom. 3:9-10).

3. We continue to, with the same motives, chose things that God has said not to .

4. We all like sheep have gone astray, and go astray (Isaiah 53:6-7).

5. We all grieve God’s spirit, even as believers.

6. We all have the flesh, which desires things opposed to what the Spirit desires (Gal. 5, Rom. 7).

7. Paul mentions this struggle in Romans 7.

8. We will struggle with the impulses of the flesh, until our earthly tent is put away.

9. BUT our flesh has been crucified with Christ, to the cross (Galatians 2:20). Therefore, we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. So we put to death the deeds of the flesh. We MORTIFY (Romans 8:13, Col. 3:5). John Piper talks about “killing sin”(Romans 8).

10. But we don’t do this perfectly. Christ knows we will fail, and that is why he tells us that he is our sympathetic high priest (Heb. 2:18, 4:15-16).

11. Yet we strive to be conformed, because we love him, and with the spirit, our spirit craves holiness, and Christlikeness (Romans 12:1-2).

12. So what do we do when we sin and feel shame set on us? 1) let shame drive us to the cross, where we see our sin, placed on Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21, Isaiah 53), where we find our sympathetic high priest (Hebrews 2:18, 4:15-16), 2) Remember that this is not us but sin living in us, and that this struggle is both common and temporary-in fact, struggle is a sign of life (2 Cor. 5:17, Romans 8:1, Romans 7). 3) Confess (1 John 1) that we have sinned and remember that this is why Christ has died for us, 4) make necessary adjustments so you don’t do that again (repentance)(Matthew 5-7, especially 5:27-30. 1 John), 5) get up and get back to what God has called you to do (don’t allow Satan to keep you in the bushes of shame), 6) celebrate that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!! (Romans 8:1) 7) help others come out of the bushes and into the light.

Satan’s focus is to steal, kill, and destroy. Too many men are pinned down by the bullets of shame. They are exactly where the enemy wants them. Hiding and ineffective. He has essentially taken them “out of the fight”. But this is not where God left Adam & Eve, and it is NOT where he wants us to stay. We have a job to do. We are to move beyond shame, and get in the game of building His kingdom & helping more and more people come to glorify HIM.

Practical application- this summer, Men’s Elective on how to move beyond shame. July (4 weeks) Monday nights (8-9pm @ Harvest). Let Pastor Jeff know if interested (765) 365-2328.