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!
12 Dec 2017
We all have a need to feel connected to another human being. Good marriages thrive on communication. Without daily sharing, one partner feels disconnected and alone. Suicides occur when people lose all loving contact with another human being. In our daily friendships, we require connection to each other. The people with whom we eat lunch or work out with, offer us a sense of community that’s vital to mental health and happiness.
But sometimes spouses or friends abuse that connection by using us for their own selfish, personal advantage. Some of us have been ripped off by a “friend” who stole from us to feed her habit. Perhaps we’ve done it to someone else. Any betrayal damages trust, but it also makes it less likely that we’ll offer that gift of connection again. Think about how we treat God and the connection He offers us through the intimacy of prayer. Don’t we often bring our own selfish wish list to our prayers? Don’t we often consider God a sort of Santa Claus and try to make deals with Him? And then we wonder why our prayers never seem to get an answer! Consider what James said about that, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:3 Prayer is not a way to get our wish list completed. Jesus is not our gofer who is just about giving us what we want!
Rather, and more important, prayer is a direct link to the Creator of the universe. He has a plan for our lives, but like most plans, He needs to share them with us. Without our willingness to put aside our selfish concerns and really be quiet and listen to God speaking to us, we’ll never learn what He wants to say to us.
When we pray, let’s connect to God by using our ears first and our mouths second. Let’s keep our motives pure and ask God for the things we need so that we can serve Him.
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!