Are you feeling salty?

Thanks for checking out my blog. If you share my blog, thanks for sharing.

I’m glad that you came back. I know you may have thought twice about it. I understand. I get it. I don’t blame you.

I’ve been pretty tough on all of my fellow Christians lately.

I’ve been tearing us down quite a bit.

I’ve been pretty candid about how I believe we are letting the mission of Christ fall to the wayside.

But who really wants to hear someone complain and criticize and condemn, if that’s all they do?

Who wants to sit around and listen to someone tell them everything that they’re doing wrong if they’re not going to offer some suggestions on how to fix it?

Not me!

So, in response to my previous few posts, I want to offer some suggestions.

I want to start out by talking about french fries. Who doesn’t love french fries?

I think that even health-fanatics can admit that french fries are delicious, even if they’re not good for you.

(On a side-note, french fries are one of several foods that we need to just leave alone. Stop trying to make them healthier. They aren’t supposed to be. Leave them in the same category as bacon, cheese cake, and ice cream. Best enjoyed in their original forms.)

Back to the point. Fresh, hot french fries are delicious! I love McDonald’s fries right out of the fryer. Who doesn’t?

The thing with fresh, hot McDonald’s fries, though, is that they must have the perfect amount of salt on them. The right amount of salt makes them delicious. The right amount of salt makes you want to wash them down with an ice-cold drink. It makes you “good thirsty” instead of just thirsty. Some people prefer sweet tea. Some people prefer soda. I think when it comes to french fries, I prefer soda.

Back to the salt.

The right amount of salt on french fries makes them irresistible. French fries without salt are just bland. They are just another vegetable dish.

On the other hand, too much salt on your fries makes them unbearable.

What is the point, you ask?

Well, I’m glad that you did.

The point is this, we are the salt!

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In Matthew 5:13, Jesus says we are the salt of the Earth! He then goes on to say that salt which is not salty, has no use. It’s good for nothing.

What does this mean to me?

It means if I call myself a Christ follower or a Christian, then there needs to be a little flavor to my life. I have to be different from everyone else. My actions should make people thirsty for more.

More of what?

More of Christ, of course!

How do I do that?

Everywhere I go, I should be sprinkling Jesus-salt on people (figuratively, of course). But just enough to make them thirsty.

I’ll come back to that.

Let’s talk about what we need to stop doing.

You people who are too much salt….

CHILL
OUT
!!!!!!!!!

Trying to force people who aren’t Christians to agree with your way of thinking by divisive, critical statements, and insulting, demeaning social media posts, is NOT gonna make anyone thirsty for Jesus.

Not being able to have a conversation with someone about how great God is without trying to force them to come to church with you just makes you pushy.

Telling people they’re going to Hell, shouting your political views, and forcing your theology down others’ throats makes them choke on your pretend-concern for them.

Inviting people to sit down and have a conversation with you about something they do that you don’t agree with, when you don’t ever want to sit down with them any other time, just makes you seem like a bully.

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Now, to my people who have a lack of salt.

You. Are. Just. Boring.

You are the same ol’ same ol’.

Just another fried potato!

Just another vegetable in a casserole full of vegetables.

Living like the world lives.

Doing the same thing you were doing before you came face-to-face with the amazing love of Christ.

Keeping the salt on the shelf so as not to look too “crazy” to all of the other people around you who actually need to hear about Christ.

This is just as bad as being too overbearing.

  • You’re in debt up to your eyeballs trying to “fit in” and live the way everybody else lives.
  • Your relationship with your spouse is in shambles and you make it public knowledge.
  • You’re on level 236 of Candy Crush or you know everything about The Walking Dead, but have no personal in-depth understanding of the life of Jesus.

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You can’t “not” share the love of Jesus with people and think you are demonstrating the love of Jesus to them. It’s impossible. You are simply a Sunday morning church-goer (sorry, not sorry). You are the salt that has lost it’s saltiness.

We, as Christians, need to be the salt Jesus was talking about. We need to influence people out of love, and make them thirsty for more. We are to be disciples of Christ, and thereby…. make more disciples.

So, what is a disciple? A disciple, in a nut-shell, is a student or follower.

A disciple follows their instructor around everywhere he goes, and tries to learn to become just like that teacher by doing everything he does.

In the case of Christians, our teacher is Jesus. So our goal, as disciples, is to follow Jesus in an effort to become just like Him.

If we are bullies, we are NOT like Jesus!

If we are just like everybody else in this broken world, we are NOT like Jesus!

In his book, Multiply, Francis Chan says:

It’s impossible to be a disciple or a follower of someone and not end up like that person. That’s the whole point of being a disciple of Jesus: we imitate Him, carry on His ministry, and become like Him in the process.

Yet somehow many have come to believe that a person can be a “Christian” without being like Christ. A “follower” who doesn’t follow. How does that make any sense? Many people in the church have decided to take on the name of Christ and nothing else. This would be like Jesus walking up to those first disciples and saying, ‘Hey, would you guys mind identifying yourselves with me in some way? Don’t worry, I don’t actually care if you do anything that I do or change your lifestyle at all. I’m just looking for people who are willing to say they believe in me and call themselves Christians.’ Seriously?

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So, what did the disciples do that made them look like Christ?

Well, for one, we know they accepted criticism and condemnation, and reacted with love and generosity.

What does that mean for us?

How about we start displaying the love and humility of Jesus by letting people be wrong? Accept the fact that some people are going to say things you don’t agree with or do things you know isn’t best for them…and love them anyway.

You don’t have to debate the issue with them or try to change their mind. Maybe when they see this, they will want to know why you don’t react when they push your buttons. Then, in the love of Christ, you can share with them what Jesus means to you, and what he can offer them, as well.

Another thing we know about the disciples, is they moved around a lot, and when they ventured to foreign cities, they prayed for people.

They prayed for people who were complete strangers!

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My Uncle Mike passed away a few years ago. He was one of the most sincere men of God that I’ve ever met. I remember as a child, we could be at a restaurant or store, and he would feel the Holy Spirit prodding him to go and pray for a particular person in the place. My Uncle Mike would literally walk right up to them and tell them “I don’t know what you have going on in your life right now, but the Holy Spirit just told me to come and pray for you”.

He would then pray for them, just like the disciples did, in front of everyone.

He had an amazing relationship with Christ. He had faith in God like no one else I know.

I would see people who were hurting, and scared, and full of shame and guilt, just melt into sobbing puddles of tears.

My Uncle never forced his belief down anyone’s throat. He never handed them an “invite” card afterwards, or tried to talk them into coming to church. He acted on behalf of Christ by being the “salt” that I believe made people thirsty for more.

When is the last time you prayed for a total stranger?

A lot of “Christians” I know don’t even pray to God in earnest when they are alone.

Most “Christians” won’t even pray to God in front of other Christians. Or they’d rather not.

If you don’t have a relationship with Christ, can you call yourself a “Christian”?

Calling yourself a Christian because you go to church is like me calling myself a gardener because I read Better Homes & Gardens magazines.

I can call myself a gardener because I sow seeds in the spring; I nurture them and care for them all summer long; and I gather my fruits and vegetables in the fall. My work is tangible. There is evidence of it.

I am challenging myself to start praying for total strangers more often. You don’t have to hear from the Holy Spirit to know who to pray for. We all see homeless, destitute, hurting people every single day.

How about if we all start out by praying for our friends when they are going through hard times or are being negative? I mean pray for them… out loud… in front of them. Even the ones who don’t go to church.

In Matthew 10:32-33, Jesus says:

Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.

I am going to start making an effort to walk up to people and pray for them.

Notice I said pray for them.

  • I’m not going to hound them to come visit my church.
  • I’m not going to promise them everything will get better.
  • I’m not going to try to convert them on the street corner.

I’m going to be the salt that will hopefully make them thirsty.

It’s not my duty as a disciple to sit around and wait to see if it happens. I’m going to leave that up to God.

What else can we do?

We know the disciples lived meager lives in order to give to those who were in need. I’m not saying that we have to live meagerly, but a lot of us don’t even live within our means. We live on credit. In this way, when we see a person in need, we can’t even help them.

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This is horrible!

As long as Satan can convince you to be a slave to the debtors, he can scratch you off of the list of people to worry about changing the world for Christ.

Let’s just love people who are hurting. Let’s stop making God all about us and start making God all about the people in this world who need to meet Him. Let’s stop calling ourselves Christians if we’re afraid to be like Christ to a desperate world.

In fact, let’s become the Christians that this world needs.

Let’s have our own personal revivals.245a3bebe42bfc49bf1da4af843b8fb7

I think we have an awesome responsibility.

I think we as Christ followers, have the potential to change the world by becoming a city
on a hill.

I believe Jesus loves us and is excited about the potential we have.

I think if we start following Him everywhere, and doing everything He does, He will show up!

I think He will show up in a BIG way!

Be encouraged!

God calls us to be bold!

I’m salty!

Are you?

 

How are you going to challenge yourself to be more of a disciple of Christ?

Why do you think “Christians” are afraid to pray for people, or in front of other people?

 

 

 

 

Politics, as usual

Yesterday, while I was volunteering at my church, I heard an interesting conversation. Actually, it wasn’t really “interesting” more than it was just intriguing to me.

Any adult who has the ability to talk has probably had a conversation like this recently.

It went something like this:

  • Person 1: “Did you hear that so-and-so won South Carolina?”
  • Person 2: “Yes, I’m just over this whole election. It doesn’t matter if so-and-so or so-and-so wins, we are in trouble either way.”
  • Person 3: “You guys! So many people don’t vote because they think it isn’t going to matter. If all of those people would just vote, things could change.”
  • Person 2: “I think we’re screwed no matter what!”
  • Then Person 1 goes on to talk about their favorite candidate.
  • More of this conversation plays out.
  • You get the point. (This conversation isn’t verbatim, but close enough.)

Like I said, we have ALL had or been around some variable of this conversation recently.

It’s an election year.

It’s part of being American.

I have my own political views just like anybody else. But as my heart grows closer and closer to God, I’m starting to have bigger concerns.

Rewind a bit.

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So, I read Jen Hatmaker’s book, Seven, a few months ago (every one of you should also read it, and then start your own mutiny), and this little ditty which is on page two (which is kind of funny because I knew on the second page of this book that I was in spiritual trouble and I still had the rest of the book to go) has been embossed into my brain since the moment I read it. Mrs. Hatmaker is talking about the church she and her husband started. She talks about how badly the building needs repairs. The doors are broken. The parking lot is horrible. She says that the carpet was in the church during “the Nixon administration”. But then there is this:

These are deficiencies most pastors would never stand for (or most churchgoers), but we won’t buy carpet at the expense of orphans. $10,000 for a new parking lot could fund a hundred thousand tree seedlings to reforest Africa’s decimated land and stimulate their local economy.

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I can not shake this thought.

The question is this: where in the scriptures do we selfish, gluttonous, excessive “Christians” find that politicians should be changing the world and taking care of our society?

In Isaiah 58:3-7, the bible says the CHURCH (it doesn’t say the government) is supposed to:

Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
    lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
    and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
    and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
    and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

Instead, the American church prays and fasts in an effort to bend God’s will to it’s own selfish desires.

  • We fast in hopes that God will “bless US” with a higher attendance.
  • We fast in hopes that God will “bless US” with the funds to build a bigger building.
  • We fast in hopes that God will “bless US” with “financial provision”.

All the while the world right outside our doors is starving, and hurt, and abused, and wrongly imprisoned.

Then we have the audacity to use social media to advertise our “fasting”. To let everyone know that we are fasting in hopes of growing “our” church. To share recipes with each other about what we can eat during our “fast” and still technically call it a “fast”. All of this in direct contradiction to the scriptures (read it here).

We continue to preach biblical financial stewardship as our church leaders take out millions of dollars in loans so they can construct bigger and more lavish buildings to compete with the church organization down the street.

We need churches that have lobbies that look like alpine ski lodges with fireplaces and waterfalls while homeless people live under the bridge across the street and are freezing to death and haven’t had a shower in months.

We need churches with amenities that rival the Ritz Carlton when we have whole families living in cars in our communities.

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We need churches that spend thousands upon thousands of dollars every year so we, the “Christians” can have fresh coffee, tasty pastries, and candy to munch on when we arrive at our church. “Churches” that sometimes fill entire sports arenas, all the while, our towns are filled with children that go to school hungry every single day because school is the only place where they get fed.

We need churches that blow through money like it’s fake, so we can all have two or three new t-shirts per year to market how awesome our church is, while the destitute among us go without.

We have church leaders who convince us that this is what God wants, which is disgusting!

God’s word and His character make it very clear that this is not what makes Him feel exalted. But, we choose not to read his word on our own. We allow ourselves to be led astray willingly.

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I can tell you, for certain, Jesus never walked 40 miles, sleeping in the wilderness or in the homes of strangers, so he could get to the next town and proclaim “you need a bigger building with a gym and a swimming pool so my people can feel more comfortable when they spend two hours per week here worshiping me“.

And I just blindly accept the notion that this is what God wants because it’s what my pastor wants….

Actually, it is what we Christ followers want. Because the honest and dirty truth is if the church didn’t do some of this, we would go to another church that did. If this weren’t the case, these organizations would not exist.

That’s whom we’ve become.

So, my brain is conflicted.

On one hand, I want to blame it on the selfish, ego-driven, celebrity-status seeking pastors who are leading our organizations AWAY from God, all in the name of Jesus.

On the other hand, I blame us all, because we know this is wrong, but we continue to be willing participants because of our own selfish human minds that convince us “we deserve all of this awesomeness at church”.

We blind ourselves to the unquestionable desperation of the world that surrounds us, and enjoy the fact that we don’t even have to carry our Bibles to church any more because our churches have gigantic movie screens with multi-media projectors where we can just read-along with the teaching. I know the money used to buy these accouterments could have been spent to put a few homeless families in hotel rooms for a few weeks, but they sure are convenient for me

Money well-spent!

  • The city where I live covers an area of less than 69 square miles.
  • YellowPages.com lists 1,276 results for churches in my city.
  • ChurchFinder.com lists 167 separate churches in my city on it’s website. These are churches that actually sign-up to be listed here. I know there are many more churches than this.
  • This equates to 2.6 churches per square mile in the city where I live.
  • There are homeless people everywhere you go in this city. There are abused wives. There are people being murdered all the time. There are hungry children. There are people who are far from God.

I wonder if we could sit down face-to-face with Jesus and ask Him what we should do, would he say….

  • BUILD BIGGER CHURCHES!!
  • Build them on credit.
  • Build them to spoil yourselves.
  • Don’t worry about what the scriptures say.
  • All of those hurting, abused, homeless, needy, hungry, dirty, depressed, struggling people that are surrounding you should be getting help from the government.
  • They aren’t your problem.
  • They deserve this life.
  • You deserve donuts and stage shows with lights and smoke that rival a Metallica concert!

Listen, I know I’m stepping on toes… My own!

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I know we love our social clubs that we call churches.

I’m guilty!

That’s why I’m so scared!

I know the Bible says in Matthew 21-23, that many of us who call ourselves “Christians” are going to be surprised and devastated when we’re not allowed into Heaven. I know it is clear that we do many things in “God’s name” even while NOT doing the things He called us to do. I know it says that even though I love God with all of my heart, if I am doing anything other than HIS work, He will say that He doesn’t even know me!

This breaks my heart! Because I know that I love God. But the “American” part of me is a spoiled-rotten brat that feels my own comfort on Sunday morning is actually important to a God whose own son could hardly find a place to rest his head.

It breaks my heart because I wonder if I’m worthy enough to even call myself a Christ follower knowing that Christ Himself wouldn’t even support what we “Christians” are doing.

It breaks my heart because I know if these organizations that call themselves “churches” didn’t exist, Christianity in America would probably be nearly non-existent.

It breaks my heart because I know that I, like many of you, even while acknowledging that I am selfish and greedy, still kind of don’t want it to change. I kind of still make excuses for it. I get kind of excited when I hear my pastor start talking about updating the building or adding more programs for ME to enjoy.

Really, it breaks my heart because those people who were talking politics at church yesterday are right, I’m scared that we are screwed as a society.

NOT because politicians will continue to be the same kind of politicians that we’re accustomed to, but because we “Christians” will continue to be the same kind of Christians that we’ve become accustomed to.

And we are perfectly fine with that.

How would our country be changed if our church organizations stopped blowing money on self-interests, and started using every single bit of it to follow God’s commands?

Do you think that TRUE Christianity would flourish, or dwindle if we decided to do this?

 

Why so sad?

We’ve heard a lot about the terrorist organization known as ISIS over the past year or so. This savage group of radical Muslims has made it their mission to persecute and savagely murder anyone who doesn’t agree with their ideals and follow their laws. This includes Christians.

I’m not going to get into what I personally think about ISIS and the persecution of Christians. That isn’t this post.

What I want to talk about, is what I see when I am confronted with this violent barbarianism on my television, in my reading, or on the Internet.

In particular, I want to focus on the picture I have branded in my memory, the mass beheadings of Ethiopian Christians in Libya, which occurred several months ago.

See Video: ISIS executes 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya

The thing that has perplexed me the most is not the grotesqueness of what I know is about to happen to these men, or the disgust I have that the world is just standing by and allowing this to happen, or the many other things that are floating through my mind, even now, as I look at this picture again.

The thing that gets me is this…..

Where are the tears?

When I see this image, and all of the images that I have seen before and after this shot, I see no fear. I see none of these victims sobbing or begging for mercy or even praying.

They actually look stoic!

And I wonder….

WHY?

What do they understand that I don’t understand? What do they have that we, American Christians, don’t have?

Why are WE so scared?

As Americans, we are terrified of the thought of dying! Even we Christians, when the chips are down, fear death immensely.

So maybe the question
we should be asking is NOT what do they have that we don’t but instead, what do WE have that they DO NOT?

A lot of things come to mind…

  • Peppermint latte’s
  • Theme parks
  • Prom
  • Mutual funds
  • Playoff games
  • iWatches
  • Ikea
  • Vacation rentals in the Outer Banks
  • Running water
  • Electricity
  • 911…..

The list could go on forever!

  • Maybe those guys who are getting their heads sliced off actually get it, where we just claim that we do!
    (We talk a good game)
  • Maybe they realize this life is just a rehearsal for what is yet to come!
  • Maybe they realize they are only seconds away from meeting Jesus, and spending eternity with Him, and to them, this prospect is an invitation they have only dreamed about! Something that they yearn for!
  • Maybe they’ve accepted this world is jacked up and death is just as much a part of life, as breathing is, and it is not something to be feared!
  •  Maybe they truly believe their greatest mission in this life is to disciple others, and they realize that if you want others to truly believe what you teach, they must see that you truly believe it as well!
  • Maybe to them, church is not a place that has a cafe where they can purchase coffee and snacks, or an online gift shop where they can purchase t-shirts and water bottles sporting their favorite church’s logo!
  • Maybe to them, church is the body of Christ spreading the love of Christ at the expense of themselves!

Then I realized….

I still don’t get it!

  • Even though I talk like I get it
  • Even though I honestly feel I understand it
  • Even though I know I should get it or I seem to get it
  • Even though I love God
  • I’m not there!

I think if we were honest with each other, most of us would confess that we’re not there.

I want to see my daughters grow up!

I want to make sure my wife will be taken care of!

I still have things on my “bucket list” I want to check-off!

I am NOT at the place where if I knew that today was THE day, I would be OK with it.

I still think I should have more control, not only of this life, but what happens after this life.

Even though I know my reward after my death is an eternity spent in the company of my loving Jesus, which is AMAZING, I am still holding on tightly to this world.

1 John 2:15-17 tells us very clearly:
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

We can say all day long we believe this, but our actions speak louder than words. We often try to justify death to others. We say things like “everything happens for a reason”, and “it was just his time to go”. We say these things to try to ease the pain that comes from losing a loved one. But we also say these things to try to make sense of something we can’t control.

And here’s the thing,
we cannot control when we will meet death.

We try to pray it away.

We try to speak it away.

We try to heal it away.

But inevitably…. it comes.

Why do we pray it doesn’t come? Why do we BEG God to prolong the inevitable for us? It’s because we’re not ready to go. We’re stuck in this world.

In Daniel 3:17-18, three guys are about to be executed by the king, for not bowing down to a statue he created. In essence, they are being persecuted for not worshiping something other than the one true God (that’s a whole other blog post).

This is their response:
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

Did you see what happened there???? Did you miss it????

They fully believe God can deliver them, but then they say the word “IF“!!!

IF He doesn’t!!

WHAT!?

IF HE DOESN’T?

Why would He NOT?

  • Doesn’t He love them?
  • Doesn’t He want to protect them?
  • Doesn’t He want to save them?
  • Doesn’t He want them to live forever?

What if I told you that God is not the Genie from Aladdin?

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What if I told you the God of the universe may not be up in Heaven just pacing back and forth wondering when you will need Him to perform a miracle to prove He is God?

What if these three guys realized God is a good God, even when they are facing death?

What if these three guys weren’t holding on so tightly to this world, they were just as ready to go meet God NOW, as they would be LATER?

That’s what I see when I look at the faces of the ISIS victims in the photo above.

  • I see the faces of men who aren’t afraid of death.
  • I see the faces of men who aren’t wrapped too tightly in this life or this world.
  • I see the faces of men who believe what they have preached.
  • I see the faces of men who have absolutely no doubt about what they believe.

In Romans 8:35-37, The apostle Paul tries to explain to us that Christ loves us, even as we experience life, and death:
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

I’m going to be honest….

I want to be real with you….

I want to get to the point in my life, that I have the faith these men have.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not there yet, although I know I should be.

I’m praying I get there.

I’m praying to become the person who would profess Christ’s love for this world with my dying last breath, instead of wasting it by begging God for more time.

I’m praying what I have learned and what I preach to others will soon become what I demonstrate. I pray to be released from the fear of death.

What would this world look like if it were full of Christians who weren’t fearful?

Do you think that God really expects us to not fear death?

 

 

 

Movin’ on up!

When I was a kid, I liked watching The Jeffersons on T.V. I think the theme song for the show, Movin’ On Up, is one of the catchiest tunes of all time. When I think of George and Weesy, the word “moving” takes on the meaning of changing locations from a place where one presently is, to a place that is better than the place where one presently is.

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In the short amount of time that I’ve truly been following Christ (only a short five and a half years now), I’ve seen a lot of people come and go from church.

I’ve seen and talked to a lot of people who have left the church that I’ve also attended, to start attending other churches.

I, myself, have changed churches once over the past few years. At that time, my wife and I decided that it would be better for our family to seek spiritual leadership from another pastor. You are never expected to stay somewhere or support someone who hurts you, intentionally.

There are tons of reasons that people leave churches. Many of these reasons require no explanation. For instance, if you are moving across the country, you may want to think about finding a new church home. It’s probably inconvenient to fly back to the church near your previous home each week.

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According to ChurchLeaders.com, there are at least 330,000 churches in the United States!

If you had the time and the gas for your car, you could literally visit a different church every single Sunday morning and Sunday evening for over 452 years and not get to all of them.

So here’s the thing, go to a church where you are happy! Seriously…. GO!

But here’s the other thing, if you’re switching churches just because you don’t like your old church anymore, just say so. Be honest. No one is going to be upset with you if you come right out and say, “You know what, we enjoyed it here for a little while, but we feel like it’s time for us to move on.

In fact, although some people may (or may not) be sad that you are leaving, they will, more than likely, appreciate your candor.

Here’s what not to do:

  • Don’t blame it on the preaching.
  • Don’t blame it on the programs.
  • Don’t blame it on the service structure.
  • Don’t blame it on the music.
  • Don’t say “the preaching isn’t deep enough for me.”
  • Don’t say “that pastor doesn’t challenge me.”
  • Don’t say “this church is just for beginning Christians.”
  • Don’t complain that the church is too accepting of sinners or sin (I thank God that I was accepted by the church when my life was overflowing with sin)!

And last but not least….

DON’T TRY TO CONVINCE OTHERS TO LEAVE WITH YOU!

All of these statements are just plain rude. Regardless of whether you intend them to be or not, they are insulting to people who work very hard to make sure that church happens.

All of these statements, although you may actually feel this way, stirs up an air of selfishness and discontent.

You obviously have appreciated the church for some reason at some point in time.

You obviously enjoyed the pastor’s teachings and the music and the sermon structure and the programs before. Or, maybe you tolerated them because your dislike of them was outweighed by other things that you really loved about the church. That’s awesome!

As far as being deep enough, or only catering to “beginning” Christians, I think this makes people sound  very conceited and pompous. Don’t try to “out-Christian” all of the other Christians around you. The Bible calls the religious-elite Pharisees! That’s what you sound like. Do you really want to be a Pharisee? No one wants to be one of those guys!

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Jesus taught in parables. Parables are easy-to-understand stories, that have practical meaning about the things that are being taught. Jesus always explained the meanings of these parables so that they were easy to understand. None of them were very “deep“.

Jesus didn’t really delve into theology so much during His teachings.

Jesus never taught in such a way that it would be “over the heads” of anyone who was tuning in for the first time.

Jesus never patted anyone on the back because they were scripturally (yes, I made up that word) smarter than someone else.

Jesus never “graduated” people up to higher levels of learning because of their immense ability to comprehend what others could not.

Why do we want our churches to emulate something that Jesus was not?

Jesus certainly was accepting of the company of sinners!

In fact, He taught us to love everyone, especially sinners.

Jesus ate at their houses and drank from their wells. The least we can do is sit beside them in church.

When I say sit beside “them“, what I mean to say is sit beside each other. You are a sinner, jesus_friend_of_sinnerstoo! We all sin every single day. The day that you can’t worship beside someone because
their sin is uncomfortable to you, is the day you probably need to hit your knees and thank God for placing you in a church where you can learn to soften your heart, and accept others with the same grace with which God has accepted you.

Let me be clear: there are no increasing levels of sin. There are no felonies and misdemeanors. A sin is a sin is a sin.

Sin is the willful deviation from living the best life that God has prepared for you by disobeying His commandments and teachings. It is the separation of one’s own heart from the heart of God. The sin of a person having an extra-marital affair is no different than the sin of how you disrespect your own spouse when no one else is around.

When are Christians going to stop building holy walls between themselves and the people they are meant to influence?

When are we going to demonstrate that loving and accepting someone is NOT the same as condoning their behavior?

Lastly, I’m tired of hearing people say that they are leaving a church because they are not being fed!

STOP IT!

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It’s not your pastor’s responsibility to feed you, or to grow your faith for you. It’s your pastor’s responsibility to teach you, and everyone else, on a level that everyone can understand. When I’m hungry and no one is feeding me, I EAT!

How many books have you read lately? How much time do you spend in prayer seeking discernment from the Holy Spirit? How much time do you spend reading the scriptures?

I think if you want to learn history and theology, you should attend seminary. I’m not trying to be rude, I just want to be clear that church shouldn’t be seminary. I doubt very seriously that your pastor is getting paid what a professor teaching at seminary is getting paid.

Let’s stop jumping from church to church and feeling like we have to tear down the former in favor of the latter to somehow justify our move. Let’s be honest with ourselves and everyone else.

We live in a country that has plenty of everything, including churches. We can try out churches for any selfish reason that we would like.

And that’s OK. It really is.

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There is no need to stay at a church where you are unhappy. This only creates a cancer that begins to infect the whole church.

Let’s get back to the understanding that our duty is to reach people for Christ. This is more important than our comfort at the church that we attend on Sundays.

This is more important than the stage-show.

This is more important than the freebies.

This is more important than everyone else having to be bored out of their minds listening to some theological lesson on Sunday morning because you are too smart for a regular sermon.

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Maybe, since you are not being challenged by the sermons anymore, it’s time for you to step up as a small-group leader or a youth group leader.

Maybe, since the sermons aren’t deep enough for you anymore, you need to mentor some people who are thirsty to learn, but have not found a teacher.

Maybe we should stop expecting our pastors to teach more scholarly than Jesus did.

In his book Radical, David Platt says:

Now journey with me to a contemporary worship service in the United States. Some people have their Bibles open, while others don’t have a Bible with them. A few people are taking notes, but for the most part they are passively sitting in the audience. While some are probably disengaged, others are intently focused on what the preacher is saying, listening to God’s Word to hear how it applies to their lives. But the reality is, few are listening to reproduce.

We are, by nature, receivers. Even if we have a desire to learn God’s Word, we still listen from a default self-centered mind-set that is always asking, What can I get out of this? But as we have seen, this is unbiblical Christianity. What if we changed the question whenever we gathered to learn God’s Word? What if we began to think, How can I listen to His Word so that I am equipped to teach this Word to others?

This changes everything. When we realize we have a responsibility to teach the Word, it changes everything about how we hear the Word.

Maybe the problem isn’t your church. Maybe the problem is your heart?

Are you going to church for what you can get out of it?

Or, are you going to church so you can learn what to teach others in an effort to spread the love of Christ?

 

 

 

 

Screaming at God

Yesterday at church, my pastor decided to do a Q&A instead of an actual organized message. Every once in a while he gets the urge to do this and to me, it really demonstrates his leadership and teaching abilities.

During this service you can send a text message about any spiritual or Biblical question that you may have, which may or may not be picked as one to be answered by our pastor on the spot.

Yesterday, someone asked a question that peaked my interest and made me sad all at the same time. The question was

“During rough times is it OK to yell at God and be angry with him?”

The question was handled appropriately by my pastor, who has the most genuine heart for God and for people, that I have ever seen in any other spiritual leader that I have ever met. In a nutshell, his answer was one that reflected his reverence and love of God.

My pastor, Rob Shepherd, said that yelling at God shouldn’t be your goal. God is deserving of our respect and our honor at all times. However, if you are experiencing an unbearable hardship, and you end up yelling at God, He is big enough to handle your emotions. He isn’t going to love you any less. But you should have a relationship with God in which you can respectfully approach Him in any situation.

(Check Rob’s blog out by clicking here. It is enlightening, entertaining, and educational.)

Here is what I think:

God is worthy of our praise at all times, even in the face of death and destruction, heartbreak and anguish.

Does that mean we will never be angry? Of course not. As my pastor pointed out during our last series, anger is an emotion that was given to us by God. But, as he also pointed out, even in our anger, we must not sin.

I want to unpack this question a little more. I really feel that what we as Christ followers have come to believe about having a relationship with God, is He is our “pal” or our “partner-in-crime”.

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I think this is where we as Christ followers have missed the boat. I know we believe we have “a friend in Jesus”, but I think the use of the word “friend” here means we have somewhere we can always go to seek a God who has a listening ear and who cares for us, just as a human friend should.

I think that if in your anger, you want to yell at God, then you can’t possibly understand just how deep and wide His love for you is.

If you want to yell at God, then maybe you don’t really have a relationship with Him to begin with.

I want to start with the human element of a loving relationship. I love my wife, Karen.

I absolutely love her.

I love her on days when things are great. I love her on days when things could be a whole lot better. I love her when she is doing everything she can to make me happy. And, I love her when she is putting herself first, even though it might be inconvenient for me.

I think God desires that kind of relationship with us. I think in the story of Hosea and Gomer, God demonstrates a love that is unimaginable for us as humans. In order to get through this blog without having to set aside the rest of your day, I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes version.

Hosea is a prophet of God to the Israelites. The Israelites are stuck in this cycle of worshiping God, and then setting Him on the back-burner. This is heart-breaking to God. He so desperately wishes to have a relationship with His people. In the story, He tells Hosea to marry a prostitute named Gomer (I know. Sexy name right?). Gomer betrays Hosea’s love over and over again. They have children together. Hosea treats Gomer well. But Gomer continues to sleep with other men. She continuously leaves Hosea’s home to have relationships with others. Hosea always pursues her. With love and honor, Hosea brings her back home over and over and over.

This is a love that is unfathomable for modern day Americans. Hosea married a woman who he was told to marry, but loved her regardless of her actions. As Americans, we choose who we want to marry, even doing so, at times, knowing the other person can’t be trusted, isn’t faithful, or is not also in love with us. At the first sign of turbulence, we have the attorneys on speed-dial. We get divorced in a heartbeat.

The story of Hosea is a story of how obsessed God is with having a relationship with the very humans that He created. Imagine this: when you have a child, you absolutely love that child. No matter what your child does you always want to have a relationship with your child. Even when others see the worst in your child, you see the best. This is how Jesus feels about us!

In his book Pursued, Jud Wilhite says, “The gospel of Hosea is this: no matter what we do, no matter how sinful we are, God pursues us, romances us, stalks us, and stakes us out in a radical grace based on himself. When we run away from him, God still pursues us. He comes after us. He calls us. And even when we are full of pain and hurt, he can still find us and heal us.”

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Because of my love for my wife, I would NEVER yell at her if I was hurt or if something went wrong in my life. I have a relationship with her. I have that relationship when things are great. I have that relationship when things aren’t so great. If I experience a loss, I know I will be comforted by her as I cry on her shoulder. If something amazing happens, I know she will celebrate it with me. She is the very best human friend that I have.

I feel the same way about Jesus. I know that He loves me and only wants the best for me. I have a relationship with Him. I talk to Him about what I am experiencing in my life. When something bad happens, I don’t yell at Him, I go to cry on His shoulder. He is the great-comforter. When something amazing happens, I go to Him with a thankful heart. I realize that every good thing that happens to me is a gift from God (James 1:17).

I have an amazing relationship with Jesus because He is important to me.

My wife is important to me. For this reason, I spend time with her. I have conversations with her. I show her affection. When she blesses me in some way, I give her the credit for it and tell her how much she means to me. I don’t relegate my conversations with my wife to whatever time I have after I prioritize hanging out with friends, spending time on Facebook, and taking part in other self-centered activities. If I were to treat her this way, I would expect her not to be as caring and loving to me as she is. She loves me, and expects me to love her back in return. She expects me to place a higher value in my relationship with her, than I do in any of my other human relationships.

God expects the same thing. He desires a relationship with us. He desires to spend time with us. He desires to hold our hands along this journey of life. He desires for us to seek His will for our lives in prayer. He desires for us to desire Him and to desire getting to know Him by reading and learning. He desires to have as much importance in our lives as our friends do, as social media does, as our families do, as our hobbies do, as CrossFit does (just throwing that in there because we all know someone who is fanatical about CrossFit).

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What we learn in Hosea is that even though we don’t seek that fanatical relationship with Jesus that we should, He still seeks it from us. He is right there…..

Waiting….

Knocking on the door (Revelation 3:20).

Before we start thinking that we have the right to “yell at God” and blame Him for our troubles or our hurt, why don’t we do a self-audit and think about how much of a priority we place on our relationship with Him BEFORE the hurt or pain comes?

He wants us to talk to Him about our struggles and our pain and our selfishness and our hurt and our bad choices. He is still the same Jesus that He was in the gospels. The reason many of us don’t have the relationship with Christ that we want to have, is because of the boundaries WE have set on Him, not the other way around. There is nothing that you can do to make God not want a relationship with you. He is GOD.

In the book Beautiful Outlaw, John Eldredge provokes us to “open the door”. He goes on to say, “Invite Christ into the whole ugly mess. Jesus doesn’t shy away from getting down in the muck of this world. There isn’t anything you can show him he hasn’t seen before. It’s not like he’s going to be shocked. Or angry. Or disappointed. Jesus loves to come; just open the door to him”.

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If you don’t already have a real relationship with God, (which I think is the case for a lot of us self-professed Christ followers), then why on Earth do you think you have the right or the authority to yell at the God of this universe out of anger?

If I didn’t have a relationship with my wife, and she were just any other random person on the street who I treated no better or worse than anyone else, I would expect to be slapped or beat-up if I decided that I would start yelling at her out of anger.

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The thing is, when you truly realize who God is, and you truly realize how much…you can’t even realize how much He loves you (which is incomprehensible to us as humans), then you wouldn’t want to yell at Him out of anger. You would want to run to Him.

You wouldn’t expect to use God as a way to get special favors or special treatment. When you have a relationship with God (and when I have that same relationship with God), instead of going to him and saying “why me?”, you will go to him and say “why not me?” Why am I any better than anyone else in this world? Why should Jesus have to bear the pain of the cross because of me, but I shouldn’t experience any pain? Why should I not suffer the consequences of my own actions? Why should life (and death) not happen to me and the people who I care about, but to everyone else?

Instead of yelling at God out of anger, you will want to RUN to Him for His love and for His comfort and His mercy.

In his book It’s Not About Me, Max Lucado says, “when our deepest desire is not the things of God, or a favor from God, but God himself, we cross a threshold.”

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When we stop putting God in a box.

When we stop being a Christ follower only in our “free” time or only on Sundays.

When we stop expecting God to just make everything easier for us.

When we stop relegating God to only “certain” parts of our lives that we are comfortable with.

Then we will understand just how much He pursues us.

When we lean on God in the hard times and the easy times.

When we worship Him just as much when there is little as we do when there is plenty.

When we realize God has a love for us that surpasses any love we have for any other human being, including our spouses or children.

Then we will understand, even in our anger, God is still a good God.

Then we will understand, even in our hurt, God loves us and cares for us.

Then we will understand, even when it seems as though the world is collapsing on top of us, God is our safe harbor.

Who would ever want to yell at a God that they have such a beautiful relationship with?

If you don’t feel that way, maybe you need to start working on your relationship with God right now.

He is standing at the door knocking. All you have to do is let Him in.

 

This Ain’t No Hobby!

 

The last few weeks, I’ve been thinkingReligion about how to
write this post so it doesn’t seem as though I’m pointing fingers. I really don’t intend to do that (except maybe at myself). But it has come up in some way or another at least four or five times over the past few weeks through my daily Bible reading, my daughter’s morning devotional reading, other blogs, or church service.

I think the church, as a whole (meaning me and you and our spiritual leaders, etc.), has become far too much of a cheering section for Christ.

Hear me out.

I think Christians have become socially motivated to attend church. It has become the holy_huddle_t_shirts-r4ea8d36cb9a1436bb28fa94817e5c90e_804gs_324place where we can see the people that we like. We get some great entertainment. We can have a snack. We can also hear a sermon that may be motivational or encouraging (which are both great things) but not too convicting. We don’t want to convict people too much because then we sound legalistic and people will stop showing up. And the church really really wants people to show up! A LOT of people. That’s how we can tell whether we are doing Gods work or not. Because He doesn’t make his expectations clear enough for us in the Bible. So we sing some songs, listen to a good sermon, hob-nob with our besties, and then go back to where we came from both literally and figuratively.

We leave the church building, of course. But I think that many of us also leave the Christian life that we portray for a few hours on Sunday. We go back to doing what we always did, talking how we always talked, treating our spouses and children like we always treated them, spending our money like everyone else, coveting the things of this world, sleeping with who we want to sleep with, lying like we always did, gossiping like we get paid for it, and so many other things.

We extol “LIFE CHANGE” at church like it really flows from our buildings like a virus.

We post about it on social media!

We market it!

We preach about it!

We talk about it!

We proclaim it from the mountain tops!

But honestly, I would have to say from my experience and observation, a lot of what we call “life change” is really just “Sunday routine change”. 

I hate to go all Old Testament, but raising your hand as an emotional response to a powerful message is NOT life change. It is a step in the right direction, but if you are doing the same thing next week that you did last week (before raising your hand), then your life has not been changed.

Life change is intentional.

Life change comes from the heart.

Life change comes from worship.

Life change comes from obedience.

Life change comes from submission.

Life change comes from a want to be one with Christ.

Life change comes from dying to the old self.

Life change doesn’t come from raising a hand or from repeating a simple prayer after the preacher.

I think we as Christians, other than the t-shirts we may wear, or the bumper stickers we may put on our cars, really don’t look or act any different from the rest of the world on Monday through Saturday. I think this is why a lot of people either don’t take us seriously when we talk about God, or they just see us as hypocrites. Why would they get out of bed early on Sunday when they can sleep-in and still live the same lifestyle. That’s what they see when they look at us.

If we’re running up our credit cards on needless material things, if we’re talking disrespectfully about our spouses, if we’re giving another driver the finger; if we’re going to the club and being provocative, if we’re not honoring our supervisors and our religious leaders, if we’re only using the scriptures when they are convenient for us, then we’re not motivating anyone else to seek a relationship with our God.

There has to be something different. 

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We can’t just be a cheering section or a social club.

God doesn’t need that. He is the Creator! We are the created!

We can’t just invite others to church so we can fill up the seats and call our jobs done.

It’s not about numbers on Sunday. It’s about how you live for the rest of the week. 

God isn’t in the numbers game.

John 6 is the perfect example of what I am trying to say. You can read it by clicking here.

In this chapter, Jesus has fed the multitudes of people that came to see him teach. He performed a miracle in their presence. He fed thousands of people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. After everyone went to bed, Jesus dipped out. He walked across the sea to another town. When everyone woke up the next morning, they were hungry and they realized that Jesus was gone, so they got into some boats and went to find him. When they find Jesus they start to ask Him about when He arrived there. In verse 26, Jesus makes an incredible statement. Jesus was never one to sugar-coat things. Knowing their hearts, Jesus tells them, you only came so I would feed you again!

Not because of the teaching.

Not because of the miracle.

Not because of the life change.

Not because you want to go all-in for Christ.

He then goes on to tell them what they should be looking for. Jesus says,

“Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you.”

Eternal life… Much more important than food and material things. Much more important than tomorrow life!

Let that sink in…

Being a Christ follower is not a hobby!

Don’t call yourself a Christ follower because of what you hope to get out of the deal. Love that is one-directional is not love at all! It’s abuse.

Call yourself a Christ follower when you are ready to spend all of your energy seeking eternal life.

Then you will be different. Others around you will want to experience what they’ve seen you experience. You will never be the same when you decide to follow Christ 24/7, 365.

God is about QUALITY, not QUANTITY!

He doesn’t need a cheering section. He does not need a fan club. He is not impressed with your t-shirt or your bumper sticker, or the amount of church invites that you can dole out.

He wants your heart….. Completely.

He is worth it!

In the book Not a Fan, Kyle Idleman says:

In Revelation 3, Jesus says to the Christians in Laodicea, ‘You are neither hot or cold but because you are lukewarm – I’m about to spit you out of my mouth.’ Jesus doesn’t say, ‘Everything in moderation’; He says you can’t be my follower if you don’t give up everything. His invitation is an all or nothing invitation.

Jesus has defined the relationship He wants with you. He is not interested in enthusiastic admirers who practice everything in moderation and don’t get carried away. He wants completely committed followers. 

Christians cannot change the world until we change our lives. We have to change our hearts.

We have to stop trying to blend-in with the world.

We need to stand out with our boldness and with our ridiculous love.

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What is it that you need to do or stop doing in order to follow Jesus more completely?

 

 

It’s Only a Game

I’m a Carolina Panthers fan! It’s no secret.

Oh, and by the way, I’ve ALWAYS been a Carolina Panthers fan. I’m not one of those “bandwagon” fans who aren’t fans any more after about 9:00 last night. I was born and raised in Charlotte, NC. I was only a teenager when Charlotte was awarded the franchise. There was an electric feeling throughout town. I would never call the Steelers or the Broncos my favorite teams again.

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I don’t have any Panthers apparel. I don’t own a jersey. I would love to. I just have other things that are financially more important.

You can’t tell that I’m a die-hard fan by the way I dress.

But when I’m around people and football comes up, I very clearly describe my love for the team. People who know me, know that I love Carolina.

 

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Last night was rough! The Panthers have been to the Super Bowl twice now…

And twice they’ve lost!

And if that weren’t bad enough, humanity was subjected to the travesty of Puppy Monkey Baby!

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You can NOT un-see this!

I won’t go into my critique of the game because that’s not the point of this post.

Last night as I watched the game I was frustrated at what was going on, on the field. Among other issues, the Panthers were just playing bad football.

I felt like they were letting me down.

A few friends of mine were blowing up my Facebook tagging me in pro-Broncos memes and such. My Pastor even sent me a text message after the game telling me that he was sorry for me because he knows how much I love the Panthers (In the area where I live, the Panthers aren’t “the team”).6835d7e00005dd777b74b8a90c14dc8e-600x256x1

He may have just been wanting to check on me in case he had to talk me off the edge of a bridge or something? I’m not sure, but the point is that everyone is aware that I absolutely love that team. I loved them when they were horrible. I loved them this year, when they were on fire. I’m going to love them next year.

As I sat watching the game last night, I thought about who my identity is wrapped up in. I promise that I’m not trying to pull a Jesus-juke on you, but to me, this is an important question that I need to answer every single morning when I wake up and get out of bed.

The Panthers are a sports team. I love them…. They let me down. But regardless of the game or the sports team, whether they win a game or lose it, the outcome won’t bring me eternal salvation.

It’s only a game!

I started to think of all of the people whom I’ve ever come into contact with who know that Rob Self is a Panthers fan, and I wondered to myself, do they also realize

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If someone were to ask me about what I believe, would I be as forthcoming about my love of Jesus as I am about my devotion to the Carolina Panthers? What would I say to a random stranger if I saw them hurting and in need of prayer? Would I have the courage to profess God’s love and mercy over them?

I know some Christians who won’t even pray in front of other Christians who believe the same thing they believe. I don’t want to be that person.

Once, years ago when I was a police officer, I had gone to a barber shop to get my hair cut. I had driven my police car there. It was a brand new car.

As I was leaving the barber shop this attractive, petite, young woman (probably 31- or 32-years-old at most) and her two children approached me. I was accustomed to people wanting to threaten their children with the “that police man is going to get you if you don’t act right” speech, so that’s what I fully expected (by the way, if you have ever said that to your children, STOP IT! please don’t ever say that again. That’s just horrible) Instead, in her sweet, soft voice, this stranger asked if I had just gotten that police car and I replied that I had (I was proud to get a brand new car). She then asked if I believed in Jesus and I very kindly told her that I did NOT (at the time). She told me that she and her children wanted to pray over me and my car and asked if I had two or three minutes to spare. Of course, as I was now representing the locality for which I was employed, I told her sure I had two or three minutes to speak to her. She actually went into the convenience store that was next door and came back out about 30 seconds later with a small bottle of vegetable oil that she had just purchased. She walked around my car and anointed all four tires and all four door handles. She then walked back up to me, placed her hand on my shoulder (still standing outside in front of the barber shop), and spoke the gentlest and sweetest prayer of safety that I have ever heard over me and my vehicle. She ended the prayer by asking God to move into my life. She wasn’t rude. She didn’t judge me when I told her that I didn’t believe in Jesus. She didn’t even try to change my mind. She left it up to God, then she walked away. I’ve never seen her again. I don’t even know her name.

Last night as I was watching the Super Bowl, I thought about her for only a second. I thought, do I have that kind of courage and identity in Christ? Could I do THAT?

I mean, I get crazy over a football game. Sometimes in a public restaurant or in front of people who I don’t even know.

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But like my lack of a Panthers jersey, I don’t wear any t-shirts or other clothing advertising for God or my church either. I don’t want to market for a church. I’ve done that. I don’t want to do it again.

So how do people know that I’m a Christ follower?

How do people know that I love Jesus more than I love the Carolina Panthers?

Do I display my love for Christ in the way that I carry myself?

Do I show it in the way that I treat strangers?

Do others who observe me interacting with my wife and daughters see the love of Jesus in my actions?

If someone were to walk up to me at a grocery store and suggest that something is different about me (which has happened), do I tell them about how much Jesus loves them, and about his ridiculous grace? Do I explain to them there is nothing they have ever done that they can’t be forgiven for?

NOTHING!

Do I explain to them they can be saved from death, Hell, and the grave while standing right there in the produce aisle?

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Or, do I invite them to my church first? Or, tell them about how awesome my pastor is first? Or, do I give them an invite card first? And then call my part “done?”

Is what I just suggested way too far out there?

I absolutely LOVE my church, and I LOVE my pastor, and I want people to come to my church. But when I get the opportunity to grow God’s Kingdom or spread God’s love, I want people to see it in ME. I want my appreciation for what God has done for me to just bubble over.

I don’t want to have to defer the message of God’s love to someone else for the sake of marketing.

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What if this person walks away and I’ve missed my chance? What if I’m the last person who could have ever told them about how much God loves them, but instead I told them that if they wanted to find out, they would have to wait until Sunday, and hear about it from my pastor?

What if they don’t live until Sunday?

I’ve lived a life in the past which makes me not worthy of God’s love or His grace. I don’t deserve to spend ten seconds in heaven. Let alone ETERNITY! I don’t deserve the salvation that I’ve received. That’s not me being charismatic, that’s me being honest.

But God loves me so much. I have so much to be thankful for. I owe so much to my Heavenly Father. I have no doubts that I absolutely WILL be spending eternity in heaven… with Jesus!

I put a lot of faith into a football team. I will again next season. But this team couldn’t even overcome another football team when it was crunch-time.

John 16:33 says that Jesus has OVERCOME THE WORLD!

This scripture tells us that we are going to have many upsets in this life. Things will be difficult. Things won’t always be easy. Our favorite sports team will eventually lose.

But TAKE HEART, we have a head coach who absolutely CAN NOT and WILL NOT lose!

Why are we so quick to talk to people about our losing sports teams, but not so quick to tell them about the winning love of Christ? Why do we leave it up to someone else to be concerned about other people’s souls?

Eternity is a long time…. It’s like…..

FOREVER!

I don’t want to see anyone not make it to heaven. The Carolina Panthers aren’t going to get me there. My church isn’t going to get me there. My pastor, though I love him, isn’t going to get me there. My wife, my parents, my children, nor my friends are going to get me there!

Eternity is the Super Bowl. This life is only the practice field.

My mission here on Earth is so much more than just a game.

When people look at me, what do they see?

I pray they see the love of Christ. 

I pray they see a person fully devoted to winning people over for the Heavenly mission. 

I hope they see a person who isn’t judgmental, or rude, or manipulative when it comes to introducing them to Jesus…. 

I hope they see care and concern and passion.

That’s something that I need to be working on daily.

The stakes are too high to lose.

When people look at you, what do they see?