God, What happened in Florida?

You might want to buckle up for this one. It’s worth the read, it’s a little longer than usual, but then ask yourself, “Where do I fit in?”

Go Social Media

I saw a meme on FB the other day that said,

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“We need preachers that will preach that Hell is still hot, Heaven is real, that sin is still wrong, that the Bible is God’s word and Jesus is the only way of Salvation, Amen.”

Another one says,

“Share if you think we need to put prayer, or God, or the Bible, back in School.”

All of this implying that, God in School curriculum, or prayer in school, or Preachers preaching someone’s idea of “The right Christianity,” can solve this problem, as a Pastor for the last almost 25 years, nothing could be further from the truth. I haven’t seen this kind of really poor understanding of theology from people that claim to be Christians in quite a while. But hey, social media gives us this platform to screw up Jesus’ teachings and call it truth; and you wonder why things are the way they are.

Florida is evidence of a problem

What happened in Florida last week was a horrifically evil event that did not happen without forethought and some serious planning. It would “appear” that the government was in fact told of this individual, his words, and ideologies, his social media posts, and to some degree, his intent, and he slipped right through the cracks. This is not a gun problem. I’m not a big raging fan of guns and I’m not raging against people having guns. I finished 12 years of school in the public school system and then a couple in the college level; guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Should people have access to this kind of gun? I don’t care. I won’t own one myself. But that’s not the point of this post.

Oh the ignorance of people

I’m interested in the question, “How did our world, our country, our state, our community, come to this kind of place?”

I do not believe the awful things happening to our children or in our nation is because,

“We need preachers that will preach that Hell is still hot, Heaven is real, that sin is still wrong, that the Bible is God’s word and Jesus is the only way of Salvation, Amen.”

This just strikes me as ignorant: just plain, straight up, hillbilly ignorant. Just because a person preaches that something is sin doesn’t stop the people that claim to follow God from doing it. If that were the case, divorce would simply stop, adult people (not even talking about high schoolers: ADULTS) would stop having sex before they are married, would actually tithe to their local church, would serve in the children’s area, would raise their children IN CHURCH instead of chasing every traveling league and teaching their children to skip church, but don’t skip the team. The church would be diversified instead of segregated: FROM BOTH SIDES not just one. People would realize that women should make as much as men if they do the same job with the same level of productivity. (This can go on and on and on.) Preachers preach that Porn is wrong but church folks like it. Preachers preach that “50 Shades of Grey,” “Game of Thrones” and such, isn’t healthy for Christian people and they get emails about not judging. Hahaha are you kidding me? “Preachers need to preach that Hell is real?” REALLY?

The people posting these memes cheat on their taxes, lie to their spouses, ignore their children, and look down their noses at people that are a different color than they are. People posting these memes don’t share their faith, or the love of God in Jesus with their neighbors, or their co-workers and you want me to believe that the preacher isn’t doing their “real” job?

What are you actually teaching your children?

People that teach their little children to hate people they are mad with post these memes; they have no sense of local church loyalty or accountability at all. Preachers say something they need to hear, they cut and run. Preachers won’t let them do what ever they want; they cut and run. Preachers say something they disagree with; they cut and run. Preachers hold them accountable for their sin, i.e. creating division, sowing discord, immorality, lack of compassion or not getting involved in ministry, they cut and run.

Tell me again the preacher isn’t preaching the right message and I will show you a NATION of people that barely know who lives next door. I will show you a nation of people that underpay teachers and EXPECT them to raise their little bundles of sunshine. I will show you a nation that will do more to protect the drug dealer than the police officer sent to arrest him. I will show you a nation of people joyfully led around by the nose by entertainers, and corrupt politicians, and media moguls instead of their supposed “Christian Values.”

What did Jesus do? Then what should you do?

We live in a world of sinners according to what the Bible says. And Like Paul, I have not lost sight of the fact that I am the worst. But these same people do not have to believe what I believe and I do not believe that shoving my belief system down their throats is what Jesus said to do. The Gospel, the good news, of Jesus Christ is and always will be, an invitation, not a HAMMER! People said “No” to Jesus all the time and he didn’t cuss them, meme them to death, slander them, or ignore them, he loved them, served them and then died for them while they were yet sinners. He wasn’t trying to create a “Christian Nation” at all. He didn’t get involved in the affairs of local politics. He even went so far as to say “Father, forgive these men that just did this to me because they don’t even know what they are doing.” Live your life like this and you will change the world.

The problem isn’t that Preachers aren’t preaching right, the problem from my perspective is that Christian people want to be in the “FUN Church Club” but don’t want to DO what Jesus said to DO. You solve that one problem, just that one problem, and you will turn this nation upside down for the good. You want God in charge? Then get off your own throne and put him in charge of you first. When was the last time you had some new people into your home for dinner? Just asking.

Finally, you want prayer back in school? You want reading the Bible back in school? I don’t. I don’t want a non-Christian, atheist, pagan, or apathetic humans or even nominal Christians, leading my grandchildren in prayer, and interpreting the Bible for them. That is the parent’s job. You want your children following the teachings of Jesus? Then teach them at home with some small modicum of integrity and example instead of twisting the scripture to fit your idolatry.

Well now, that’s pretty heavy stuff, but it is the stuff pastors and preachers put up with everyday of the week. The solutions to the horrors of our lives is never simple, never easy, and never cheap enough to simply put on a meme. LifeWay says in their poll, 250 pastors quit each month. I wonder why? I’m not writing this because I’m perfect or even sinless. I wish I could get through one day without having to go to Jesus and confess and ask forgiveness; I need my savior. But, I love that I get to lead a group of people that want to be like Jesus, want to love, and serve, and get involved on a personal, one-to-one level, I love that. They put their rocks down, we have no right to stone people, we have been called to love them and stick to the truth, and introduce them to Jesus of the Bible.

You want to solve this “Problem,” (pick one problem to focus on) then stop talking about who should do it and you be the one to go do it. Yeah, it’s like that.

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Do you REVEL or do you REPRESENT?

HOW LONG WILL YOU FALTER?

“How long will you falter between two options?” This was a question that Elijah asked the children of Israel when he confronted King Ahab on Mt Carmel.

Mt CarmelAhab was listening to his wife Jezebel, not God. As a result Elijah invited Jezebel’s Priests of Baal and Asherah to a show down. God revealed himself very powerfully and the people repented and came back to God … for a season at least. But the question is always a relevant one, “How long will you falter between two options?”

Another way is to ask, “Which SIDE of the fence are you going to live on?” you cannot live ON the fence. Jesus said it this was, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other!” (Rev 3:15)

ELIJAH was the guy, AHAB not so much

Elijah was a guy that was going to chase after God, he was going to represent God and he was going to be God’s man.
Ahab wasn’t that guy; He is referred to as a guy that did more to provoke God than any other King before him. How do you get to the place where you are the King and God who put you there isn’t your God anymore?

The Frog in the Pot

I believe it is the proverbial pot with the frog in it. The water is cool, feels good, and you are happy swimming in circles. The fire is lit under the pot and you turn up the Blog_BoilingFrogheat ever so slowly. As the water warms up the frog really does not notice it. It’s comfortable, it feels good, it’s fun, it’s all in innocence and being happy. Then the frog is dead.
He has been successfully cooked and is ready to be eaten.

HALLOWEEN

I think the Christians exuberance over Halloween is getting to be like that frog. There is a place to understand that we are not all celebrating Satan, or worshipping Satan because we went trick or treating, any more than any one who buys someone a present from Thanksgiving to December 25th is automatically worshipping Jesus. That is hands down some of the dumbest theology I have ever heard. You do not accidentally worship something or someone; intent has to be there. That is not to say candy-corn-pumpkinsyou don’t open yourself up unknowingly, but the idea of worship actually carries an inherent intent of the heart. I’m more concerned with the slow turning up the heat and the intentional willingness to participate in the macabre, and yet still call ourselves followers of The Way, The Truth and The Life. A little fear was fun, a little more is needed to scare you as you get used to it, and then it just grows and grows and suddenly you’re in places that make you wonder, what would Jesus really say about all of this? What does it mean to seek first the kingdom of God and not get all caught up in the world? And when are Christians being ridiculous?

How Long will you …

Elijah was a guy that wanted to represent Heaven. Ahab was a guy that wanted to revel in the worship of Baal, Asherah and all of its immorality. As Christians, whom do you want to represent with your life and what is the best way to do that? I hear this question, “How long will you falter between two options?”

Haunted Houses

As we enter Halloween season, and people begin to anticipate trick or treating. The movie theaters line up their ghastliest movies, all demonic and “gorefest” infused. People begin to set up and advertise their haunted forests, and haunted houses, and Thriller2-500x323chaunted asylums, all trying to create an evil and scary atmosphere more “heart attack inducing” then their neighbor. Local cities are starting to traditionalize the Michael Jackson “Thriller”/ “Walking Dead” zombie walk. Our society is getting more interested and more interested in the occult and all it trappings.
And I have to ask, what is the Christians role to the community during these times?

Reflected in our churches?

This propensity to Halloween is reflected directly in our awareness of sin as well. The church “appears” to be lightening up on its willingness to call out sin. We want people to feel good about them selves so we smooth over the idea of preaching what might be mean, or hurtful, or even try to be more politically correct. When this happens we really have to stop and question our love for people. We don’t have to be mean, but we should decide if we are going to seek first his kingdom and righteousness or, if we are going to “have it all.” Are we going to live the truth and encourage people into a new life away from the world and the enemy? Is our walk going to equal our talk, or are we just going to get cooked like the frog in the pot?

This Halloween are we going to revel with the world or are we going to represent?

I’M NOT TRYING TO TEACH YOU NOT TO SIN

There are just a lot of broken, messed up people around me IN THIS WORLD and it is crazy. I watch the news and I’m telling you it almost depresses me into going to Walmart the first Saturday of the month. At 9 am. I’m not kidding.

 CHLORINE BLEACH?

I just saw a story on the news that a 12 year old tried to poison her mama with chlorine bleach because her iPhone was taken away. I mean seriously? Are you kidding me? If I tried a stunt like that growing up you wouldn’t know me. You wouldn’t have to waste anymore of your time reading this because it wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be here.

 I’ll kill you and tell God you died.

If my dad said anything that I remembered, and I tried not to remember much as a youth, he told me “So help me, I’ll kill you and tell God you died.” You know I knew growing up that he meant it. It was just that kind of upbringing.

RugerThere was always a gun hanging on his bedpost, a Ruger 44 magnum Super Blackhawk. As a child I knew how it worked. I knew that if I touched it I better be shooting it. I’m not a real big fan of handguns, but I’m not trying to take away your constitutional rights so relax, I’m just not into handguns. I’m really not interested in hanging one that is always loaded in a place where a 4-6 year old could pull it out and shoot it, like the bedpost. That’s just straight up irresponsible parenting and bad handgun ownership.

 It is our NATURE to SIN

The reason there is so much sickness in the world and so much hurt and pain in the world, is because there is so much sin in the world. The Bible says that every one in the world that has ever existed or will ever exist is a sinner. I’m not sure how that makes you feel, but you are a sinner. I know that because I am a filthy rotten sinner who gave his sin to Jesus. As sinners, guess what we do best? We sin. We just can’t seem to stop. It’s like it’s in our nature. Wait, it is our nature.

 I, ME, MINE

My wife and I have 5 children. Five, cinco, Funf, yup, 5. We didn’t have them all at once, they came one at a time except for the last two; they came as a matched set. As babies they are born into the world they are born with a very self-centered nature and that is ok. They cry when they want to be held, they cry when they want to be fed, they cry when they want to be changed. Shoot, they even cry when they want to go to sleep but refuse to. And what’s up with that any way? If you want to go to sleep little baby go to sleep. Stop crying about it and sleep.

Babies are supposed to act like that that. It ok for a baby to be self-centered, it’s how they communicate to us until they have words. The problem is they are supposed to grow out of it. Have you grown out of it? There is nothing worse than a 33 year old that still acts like a 3 month old. But the bottom line is, that self-centeredness IS our human nature: that is sin.

Sin: I want, what I want, when I want it, and how I want it and I want it NOW!!! HA, that pretty much describes our whole culture.

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The answer to selfishness is a savior, Jesus. As our Savior he has taken all the sin, of all the world, for all time, even the future, and has borne it so we do not have to be punished for it. EVER! I love him for that. It makes me want to be good. I love him so much for what he did that I want to live like he did. Alas I fail. I sin. (You should know that I’m a pastor and I sin. You should not go to a church where the pastor does not sin: he’s a liar)

You should know that I’m a pastor and I sin.
You should not go to a church where the pastor does not sin:
he’s a liar

As a pastor I am not trying to teach people not to sin, but I think a lot of people and pastors are trying to do that. To me that is the craziest thing is the world. It would be like trying to teach elephants to fly because you really want a bird. It isn’t going to happen.

 YOU ARE A SINNER

Before you go all Charles Manson on me, (see how I avoided using a derisive Government employee parcel delivery illustration?) I mean that Jesus died for my sins so I could live in HIS victory, not create a victory of my own. My human nature says I am going to sin. I’m not giving you permission to sin; I’m just saying why does it surprise you that, after surrendering to Jesus you still do? You are a sinner whose sin has been paid for, not try not to sin.

baby walkingI liken this to a baby that is learning to walk. They pull themselves up on the table. And stand there with their little fat legs bouncing up and down and happy as a lark. They grin and smile and babble. Then you, the parent, start coaxing them to let go. “You can do it,” you say. They get courageous and let go and take a step and you snatch them up and praise them, and encourage them, and it is awesome. Then you set them down and tell them to walk to you. They take one step, two steps: you are so proud that this clearly is the smartest baby in the world, has walked earlier than any other baby in the history of the world, and even Moses who was “no ordinary child” wasn’t this cool. Then your little messiah falls down. As a parent you don’t grab them up and beat them and scream that you told them to walk. You hold them, comfort them, and encourage them to try again.

That is a great picture of God the Father encouraging you to live a sinless life. He knows you’re going to fall again. Want me to show you how I know that? Look at these verses:

1 John 1:8-10 New King James Version (NKJV)

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

1 John 2:1 (NIV)

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

We will sin. The odds are in my favor and I would bet the house on it. I know that some of you will take exception to this like I know you are a sinner. But the truth is, my goal as a pastor is to teach you to get back up. Like the illustration of the baby, if I can teach you to get back up, and teach you to focus on Jesus and the doing of the things he told us to do, you will have a serendipitously wonderful life. You will straight up be surprised at it.

 God wants to own your sin

What has you down? What sin is it that makes you think God hates you? “For God so loved the world …” the Bible says, that he sent his son to love you to death. On Easter. At Calvary.
Get back up you can do this. God loves you.