28 Mar 2018
Many of us know bondage. Some of us were (or still are) in slavery to drugs. We know fear and what it feels like to be really afraid. Many of us were abused and are now held hostage by feelings of abandonment and rejection. We still feel the pinch of the shackles of hopelessness around the wrists and ankles of our lives.
We carry around the chains of pride and self-centeredness that prevent us from asking God to unlock the manacles of hopelessness. Some of us are afraid to trust Christ because we don’t really believe He will get our lives right. We fall into the trap of thinking that a life in Christ is all about rules and regulations. It isn’t. Anything that stresses rules and regulations as a way to God may be a religion, but it’s not a relationship. It is not true Christianity. When Jesus saves us, He saves us for a life of freedom—not freedom to sin, but freedom to do the right things.
Our Savior’s keys unlock our chains. Our old lives—with their bondage and negative patterns—are gone. A process of change begins. Our old lives are like polluted fish tanks that smell up a room when the water filter is broken. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, He places a new water filter in the water tanks of our lives. He drops chlorine tablets into the reservoir of our hearts. The result is pure, sweet water that promotes life and health and hope.
14 Mar 2018
Taking our faith in Jesus to work or out with our friends is an intimidating thing. We are considered wimps or worse for believing in Jesus, and we get confronted with tough questions. People want to know why a “loving” God allows starvation in Africa or massive earthquakes in poor countries or a gunman killing six-year-old kids at school. They consider us extremist, arrogant and intolerant for believing that Christianity is the only way to God.
While we should and can validate their questions and exhibit Jesus’ sympathetic and understanding heart, we must avoid the devil’s trap. Don’t let those taunts and questions intimidate us and prevent us from proclaiming the truth. So how do we avoid that ambush and share our faith? Point them to Jesus!
Jesus is not a religion—He’s a person. That makes all the difference. He the foundation that must be addressed before any other issues are talked about. As any builder knows, the foundation is the most important thing to get right. It does no good to discuss kitchen cabinets until the foundation is squared away.
People must decide who Jesus is. They must be given the chance to examine His life and ministry so that they can decide if He is a liar, a nut-job, or Lord of the universe. If they reject the claims of Jesus, then discussing God with them is a waste of time. If they come to accept Jesus as Lord, then the tough issues are put into context of a loving Lord who gave His life for us.
If the hub of a wheel is true to form, the whole wheel performs correctly. When we take our faith to the yard, we must take our searching sisters and brothers to meet the risen Lord. Everything else will fall into place once they get Jesus right!
17 Jan 2018
A little boy found his father’s old collection of comic books in the basement. There were old Superman and Archie comic books alongside the Fantastic Four and Batman comics. All were sealed in plastic sleeves to prevent mold and dirt from destroying them. The son asked his father what these old comic books were worth. What was their value? The father replied, “They are worth what one person is willing to pay for them.”
What is a person worth? What are we worth? What are you worth? Do you ever sit alone after a tough day or in the midst of a busy life and ponder the question, “What am I worth?” Most of us do from time to time. The problem is that we look for the answers in the wrong places. In secular society the answer to “value” question is wrapped up in what our jobs are, or how much money we earn or how beautiful we are. Sometimes we flash the Rolex we wear to garner value from others. Sometimes we brag about the vacation spots we have visited or the new cars we are driving. In a world driven by advertising these are the answers put forth.
Big problem is all these things never satisfy. There is always someone with a more expensive car, flashier watch and bigger house. It is a fool’s game that leaves us feeling like we are hamsters on an exercise wheel. So what is the source of true value and significance?
The answer is found at the Cross of Christ. Remember, the power of the cross is that although we were more sinful than we ever dared think…God loved us so much that He sacrificed His Son to pay the penalty for our sin. God wanted relationship with us…valued us so much…that Jesus laid down His life voluntarily so that we would be in relationship with Him forever. This ultimate gift of love cannot be equaled and is the immovable rock that stands with us when times are good…but more importantly…when times are tough. God demonstrates our value to Him and His love for us on the Cross of Calvary.
01 Nov 2016
We are all bombarded with self-help programs; programs to treat violent anger, addiction, and other behavioral abnormalities. Sometimes our anger management classes bump into our 12-Step AA and NA schedules. If we are not in group therapy, we are in book clubs that discuss Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Most of these give good advice and counsel. But let’s not mistake good advice for the Good News of Jesus.
Jesus claims that He is the Son of God and the only way to the Father. He is the One who became flesh, was crucified, and rose from the dead. Jesus bridges the gap between sinful humanity and a perfect God. Christ became sin for all of us so that we might be able to live with God for eternity. He paid our debt.
The Good News of Jesus is similar to the New York Times, in that the newspaper shares accounts of events that actually happened—fact not fiction. And Jesus is not fiction. He lived, He loved, He died and He rose from the dead…fact, not fiction.
Jesus is not a self-help guru. To see Jesus as an ancient psychiatrist would be to miss His power and life-changing mission. Many of us prefer the self-help version of Jesus because it allows us to pick and choose which advice to follow. It permits us to keep the rules we like and discard the ones that complicate our lifestyles. It lets us try to save ourselves, rather than surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives.
Imitating Jesus’ commands and life choices is a good thing, but it is not good enough. He wants surrender, not imitation. Bending a knee in total surrender to the living person of Jesus as Savior and accepting His grace is the only way to salvation. This is the cornerstone lesson from the life of Jesus.
31 Dec 2015
When Jesus was gathering His disciples, He would often say “Come and See” to them to encourage the men to investigate and observe something about which they were skeptical. As we enter into 2016, make a simple resolution to focus on one thing. That should be Jesus. Many of us are unsure about who Jesus really was…or is… In 2016 make it a point to Come and See Jesus.
You will know you have investigated Jesus thoroughly when you are left with two very difficult choices. One the one hand, your reading about Him will lead you to see that He claimed to be the Son of God, forgiver of sins, one with the Father and the ONLY way to salvation. Wow! That a tough resume to swallow. That’s like an office co-worker standing up at the office Christmas party and declaring that he is a cheeseburger!! Probably take him to the emergency room ourselves or at least take his punch glass away from him.
On the other hand, you will see that Jesus had a remarkable effect on His disciples. Those men didn’t get mansions upon the death of Jesus. None of them got a reality TV show, book deal or had Brad Pitt play them in the movie version of their lives. No! Every one of His followers went to difficult lives and violent deaths. Now, did they die for a lie? Or, most likely, did the disciples all go to their deaths because they saw the Risen Savior, believed in His Lordship and salvation and went willingly to their deaths because they knew Jesus…and knew He was the real deal? And, then, how does a person explain the 2000 years of Christianity around the world if Jesus was a lie?
The only thing that investigation of Jesus denies us is the cop-out where we say, “Jesus is a good man, lovely sayings, good ethics “. When we know the true historical Jesus, we must decide. He is either a liar, lunatic or Lord.
Come and See for yourself in 2016.
21 Dec 2015
The fairy tales like Cinderella and Snow White all revolve around a damsel in distress being rescued by a handsome prince. These stories are timeless and were our favorites and now are the favorites of our children. Evil surrounds our heroine and she faces death and poverty unless someone comes to her rescue. Events always look dire and awful with no real savior in sight. Yet, at the last moment, Prince Charming arrives with a kiss or glass slipper to push evil back and bring perfection, health and happiness to them both.
We all label these stories Fairy Tales because they just don’t happen in real life, right? Wrong! Christmas… the birth of Jesus is the real life coming of Prince Charming into our world to save you and me. We all know in our hearts the presence and power of sin in our lives. We don’t like to be reminded of it, but we know it’s there. We know that we are in need of a Prince Charming to wave off the sin and rescue us from it. God demands punishment for our sin because he’s perfect. But God loves us so much that He sent His Son to take our punishment. That’s the beauty and power of the Cross.
Jesus’ birth signals that our Prince Charming has been born… that The evil witch will be defeated and that we will live happily ever after. The poison of sin is removed by the kiss of our Savior Jesus. Let’s all celebrate His birth with the joy that comes from knowing our Prince Charming has arrived!
03 Aug 2015
Lots of people give God the heave-ho when things in their lives don’t go according to plan. Prayers are sent upward to Jesus asking Him to bless the business, the kids and to watch over their flight when they take off from JFK. We recite a “wish list” for God to tend to as we clamor about thinking of new things for Him to do for us. The trouble is when things we ask for are rejected or our “wish list” doesn’t come to pass, we say good-bye to Jesus.
When we say adios to God because our requests have not been met according to our satisfaction or in our timing, what we have really revealed is that we married God for His money. When we hear that some young babe is dating an 84-year-old wealthy man we arch our eyebrows and say, “Tsk, Tsk…she’s only after his money.” Our contempt for this kind of user relationship is as obvious as bellman holding out his hand for a tip after he has deposited our luggage in the hotel room. But how is the voluptuous gold-digger any different than you and I when we only look to God to get us the things we really want on earth? The answer is “not very much difference…if any.”
When we say we love Jesus but put conditions on that love, we have married God for His money. If we are saying, “I will serve God if I can just get that promotion” or “If I can just get paroled, then I will serve Jesus on the outside” we are worshiping what we want from Him and not the Jesus who gave His life for us, unconditionally.
Those things we want more than Jesus are idols, pure and simple. Anything we place higher on our value list replaces the King of the Universe in our lives. Bargaining with God to get what we want, all wrapped up in high-minded theology and well-spoken prayers is just putting lipstick on a pig. You can dress up a pig, put it in an Armani dress and give it a Chanel bag, but in the end, it’s still a pig.
Our relationship with Jesus must be built on loving Him for who He is, NOT what He can do for us. He has already done the maximum by giving His life. What more do we really need…seriously!
14 May 2015
Nobody goes to hell because they are homosexual…or adulterers…or child molesters…or murderers…or greedy, mean and dishonest. No, people walk willingly into hell (that place where God is not) for one reason and one reason alone. They do not have a right relationship with Jesus.
These things listed above are symptomatic of a life that is out of kilter. It’s a life that is off-center similar to a bicycle wheel that has been dented. When our lives match up in harmony with Jesus, all of the symptoms melt away and the hard choices fall into place. But first, the question of who Jesus really is must be answered.
As stated in earlier blog post, the choices concerning Jesus are tough. He is either a nut job who claimed to be the Son of God, Savior of the World and One with Father God…or He is the Lord of the Universe to whom we should give total allegiance and say, “Command Me.”