The Endless Rotation of Checks

Do you feel it? The throbbing blue-light headache from your mobile devices that starts in the back of your neck that wraps all the way up to the frontal lobe of your forehead? Can you feel it? The intense urge to check something, anything, to see who is cyber hugging you? Facebook, Texts, Emails, Instagram, Periscope, Twitter, etc. I can’t escape it. It is this incessant need to check my cellphone every 2 minutes. It is now said that the urge to check your cell phone is as strong, if not stronger than that of a heroin or cocaine addict. It has such a strong pull; that of social acceptance. How many likes did I get, how many comments, how many hearts, how many friends? We are fishing for acknowledgment. We cast out the line full of bait in the form of witty remarks and quips and cute photos and selfies just to get a scant few responses. Could it be that our lack of real social involvement has lead to this insatiable need for artificial social media grubbing? In hopes of our artificial social hierarchy we climb the ever so present yet imaginary cyber ladder. And to what end? Our own destruction. Pride. Arrogance. And worst of all SLOTH.

We think of sloth as laziness but did you know that the actual understanding of the word in Biblical times also meant laziness toward God? Our destruction is great when we do not do the things God has asked of us. The ramifications are HUGE. Satan’s best attempt at gripping the hearts of humans is through distraction. Today’s distraction, I am convinced, is through the almighty, never-leave-my-side cell phone. I go to read my Bible app and before I know it my phone tells me I have to respond to an urgent text or some other pressing item. Honestly, it will only get worse. Is it realistic to tell you, or to tell myself to throw our phones out? Mark 9:47-48 ESV says figuratively, “And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'”

Yikes, those are some pretty intense words. It is like money. Money is a tool, but be super careful not to make it your idol. I fear most of us have made an idol out of our cell phone. I resolve to leave my phone in my office when I am with my family. I resolve to leave my phone in the car when I am out with friends. I resolve to leave my phone downstairs in the charger when I am in my bedroom at night and in the morning. Can you do this with me? Can you make a resolution to make a positive change for your Maker? Stop the checking cycle and give to God what is rightfully his: your time and your attention.

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Stop Stealing From God

The Cafeteria Christian. Yep, that was me. I looked at God’s Word like a buffet of choices. Some were for me, I liked them. They made me feel good. They worked in my lifestyle. Some were not for me. I did not like them. They made me feel bad. They certainly did not work with my lifestyle. So I reasoned them off as antiquated. Surely a good God would not feel the same way he did 4,000 years ago than he does today. Surely my God does not see life the way we do today compared to when Jesus walked the Earth.

I remember a gal I was mentoring a when I was just out of college. She was only about 6 years younger than me, but to her I was old. I didn’t understand the “party scene”. I remember laughing because what she was telling me was exactly the same. EXACTLY. Aren’t we just like that girl in the face of our good good God? We know better. Our lives are way different than people from even 10 years ago let alone 2,000 or wow, even 6,000 years ago. MAJORLY DIFFERENT.

We are wrong. Dead wrong. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He has never changed and will never change. But sadly we use what we know and feel about life to package who God is, or at least who we think he is. God is not a feeling or a logical reasoning that you have come up within your own mind. God is GOD. Yahweh. Almighty Maker of heaven and earth. He has revealed things to us that he wants us to know. But, there are things he has not revealed as well. Secret things. What do we do with that information or lack thereof? We speculate. We make things up based on how we feel. We, in essence, pick pocket God. Or more realistically put, we attempt to rob him, steal from him. Good luck with that! Trying to come up with your own ideas about who God is without studying what he has revealed to us in his Word is as Jay Adams in The Grand Demonstration puts it “nothing less than attempted theft.” Don’t do it. Stop reasoning based on your feelings and reason based on God’s Word. Our faith alone comes by grace alone through Scripture alone.

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. ~ Deuteronomy 29:29 ESV

The Eternal Dot

Our lifetime feels like an eternity when we are 16. Then, all of the sudden you turn 40 and BAMB you are faced with the reality that your life on this earth is pretty much half way done. Hmmm. Where did the time go? Consider how CS Lewis describes eternity in a way that seems almost too simple yet in its simplicity it is so impressively profound. Take a roll of paper that your roll out for all of eternity. The roll just keeps going and going and going. There is no end. Then take a very sharp pencil and create a minuscule dot on a part of the roll. Just one tiny dot. Now take a moment and consider that dot. That dot represents TIME. It represents all of time as we know and understand it to be. Time as we know it began with God’s word, creating the world and us. We are living within that time. Someday soon the notion of actual time will end and we will be ushered into eternity. Our time-wrapped up minds can scarcely fathom what that concept is even concepting about. We have zero reference point. Even the illustration CS Lewis gives with the pencil dot will be lacking once we understand eternity from the other side of the grave. I can tell you this, I am 100% confident in my hope for eternity. I am excited to get there and this short blip called my life, while interesting to say the least, will someday be an extremely extremely EXTREMELY long distant memory.

Shine Bright Like a Turd

OK, the title needs some work, but you get what I mean. Turds don’t shine. Poop in all its glory is the antithesis of shining bright. It would be ridiculous to try to shine poo. But isn’t that exactly what we are doing when we are focused on the things of this world? We are just shining the poo. Yes, this world is beautiful, but realistically when we desire after that new car or want to remodel our kitchen, is that the best use of our time? As believers God calls us to a much higher calling. Sure, you may need to have some creature comforts, but consider checking your motives. It is said those who are too heavenly minded are no earthly good but it is the opposite that is true. Those who are most heavenly minded are the ones who do the most earthly good. CS Lewis put it well when he said, “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.”

So, stop shining the poo. Set your eyes on Kingdom building and you will do well on this earth with a prepared heart and soul for the riches of the diamond shining bright that is our blessed Heaven.

Who are You to Judge?

I get it. I do. We live in a world that does not want to be judged. We live in a world where it is looked down upon to judge others. Live and let live. I did that for 25 years. I won’t do it anymore. We were made to judge. God placed that ability directly in the heart of our being. We are to judge but also because we judge ourselves. Matthew 7:1 is such a misused verse. “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Keep reading. We have to take out the plank in our own eye before we can see clearly to remove the speck in our sister’s eye. We need to judge, that is called helping others remove their specks.

I removed a plank recently in my own eye and now there is the tendency to try to help remove the specks in others that are cut from the very same plank that was lodged in my eye. But guess what? Most times people just get mad and say, “Who are you to judge, you are not God!” Again, I get it. I do. But the Bible also says in Hebrews 5:14 to have discernment that is trained so we can distinguish good from evil. In Ephesians 5:10 we are called to try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Romans 12:2 tells us to not be conformed to this world. Renew your mind. We need to discern the will of God. Please, go look up these verses. Better yet, do a word search on “discern.”

The term for discern in Ephesians 5:10 and Romans12:2 is dokimazo which based on the Strong’s dictionary means to “test, examine, prove, scrutinise (to see whether a thing is genuine or not).” The word translated to discern in Hebrews 5:14 is diakrisis which literally means to judge. There is verse after verse in both the Old and New Testaments teaching us to judge. It is not a bad thing. Somehow we have locked onto Matthew 7:1 and selfishly and foolishly want others to stop judging us.

Judgment from others is hard. It means we may have to look at ourselves closely and we may not like what we see. Sadly, and most commonly, we may actually like what we see and just not want to change. We find others who do the same as we do and have somehow managed to justify ourselves. Bad has become good and good has become bad.

Friend, I love you. I want the best for you. Not here in this world, but in heaven. I don’t always go about it the right way and yes, I can sound “judgy” but don’t you remember the teachers you had in grade school and college? The ones who were harder on you? It was because they loved you and saw the greatest potential in you. If you read my posts or listen to my broadcasts and feel like I am judging you, then take that conviction as a gentle nudging from the Holy Spirit. See it as a gift. See it as a way to grow and become a better version of you. Don’t get angry and snarky. There is enough of that in this world. We all mess us, me included. Yes we are not perfect and yes there is only One true Judge. My prayer is that when you meet Him for the first time face to face that he says “Well done” rather than, “Depart from me.”

Periscope: Satan’s Newest Weapon of Mass Destruction

In 1 Samuel 2:16 it says “Let them burn the fat first.” What does this mean? Some speculate it had to do with the fat being what gives us our strength. God wants us to get our strength from Him and Him alone. To boast only in Him. He asked us to give the best to Him first. Do you see what happened in this verse?

And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.” 1 Samuel 2:16 ESV

Who is talking? A random man who was sacrificing and a priest’s servant who was demanding the man give to the priest what the Lord commanded should be given to Him alone. What is the significance here? Even the common man knew this was wrong. What was going on here was very very wrong.

Today we think nothing of skipping breakfast let alone prayer time and Bible study. It breaks my heart that I too am responsible for not loving the LORD my God with ALL my heart, soul, strength, and mind. I am guilty of waking up and giving the first part of my mind to Facebook, or Instagram, or text messages, or emails. My flesh is weak. New worldly distractions are being pushed out daily. Periscope can now be added to my list of distractions and sin. We all have trigger points. Things that will take us out of the game from time to time.

Satan is on the continual prowl seeking new and innovative ways to keep the lost from finding God and the saved from doing their work. You may find me a bit over-the-top by calling Periscope a weapon of mass destruction, but if you think about it for just a second, if it is taking someone away from God’s work then most certainly it could be. Just like anything else in this world could also be considered the same. Again, it goes back to knowing what is taking you away from the work of God. Food, TV, people, worldly praise and recognition, your kids, relationships, careers, sports, etc. Really the list is endless.

We all have our weaknesses. What is taking you out of the game? What is causing your eyes to dim from the light of the Kingdom? What are you doing that is not allowing you to give God your first? Are you even aware that you are not giving Him your best?

Father, I ask for more of you. More of your Holy Spirit. Jesus teach me. Holy Spirit guide me. Father give me wisdom to do your will. Take away my selfish ambition and help me to have Kingdom eyes and Kingdom flesh. Humble my pride. Sharpen my mind. Train me and discipline me. Give me mercy and grace and love for your people, and above all give me Jesus.

Gallons and Gallons and Gallons of Blood

1 John 1:9 ESV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 is one of the most loved and memorized verses of all time. We use it often and much yet I fear because of its over use we may gloss over its weight. Much like our desensitization of the cross as an actual capital punishment death chamber, also our understanding of sin and judgement has been desensitized.

Consider what had to be done for sin before the Cross, before Jesus for someone to be “cleansed from all unrighteousness.” A reading of the Old Covenant points to the redemption of the Lamb that was slain. We gloss over these verses but when you consider the sheer mass of animal sacrifices that went on during that time it is mind boggling. I used to visualize the priest in his white robe and ephod dazzling in the sun looking good in his Sunday School best. Realistically, however, they were covered in blood. Any butcher can tell you that animal killing is a messy business. The volume of animals sacrificed coupled with the continual throwing of the blood on the alter, I am certain the whole ordeal was a bloody splattered mess. Read the verses at the end to give you an idea of the masses of animals that were sacrificed. Don’t miss this: blood flowed, and it flowed heavily. This was no light matter.

So how, and why can a God who is righteous, a God who is just, be able to forgive us with the sacrifice of just ONE Man? That question alone is where we veer off course. The question should not be in light of the Man Jesus. That one Man was THE Lamb. He was the Lamb that was described over and over again in the Old Covenant. He was without blemish. Spotless. Perfect. Without sin… He. Was. GOD! God gave himself up as the heaviest thickest richest blood that would ever be or could ever be. It was His blood that was enough. His blood that could carry the weight of the sins of the world. Don’t miss it beloved! The weight of His blood should weigh on your heart every time you consider it. Your sin should weigh on your heart every time you consider it. He died and bled pure perfect righteous blood for you. He lived a life that was perfect. He lived a life you never could and died a death you deserved. All for you! It was the only way. Ponder it. Wonder at it. Glorify Him for it. Live for Him because He did something you could never accomplish and because of Him you are free. This verse should be memorized. It should be often flowing from your mouth. But consider the weight of it the next time you share it or meditate on it. It is quite a big deal. Praise God!

Here are some verses to give you some reference:

1 Chronicles 29:21 ESV
[21] And they offered sacrifices to the LORD, and on the next day offered burnt offerings to the LORD, 1,000 bulls, 1,000 rams, and 1,000 lambs, with their drink offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel.

2 Chronicles 29:21-22 ESV
[21] And they brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven male goats for a sin offering for the kingdom and for the sanctuary and for Judah. And he commanded the priests, the sons of Aaron, to offer them on the altar of the LORD. [22] So they slaughtered the bulls, and the priests received the blood and threw it against the altar. And they slaughtered the rams, and their blood was thrown against the altar. And they slaughtered the lambs, and their blood was thrown against the altar.

2 Chronicles 35:7 ESV
[7] Then Josiah contributed to the lay people, as Passover offerings for all who were present, lambs and young goats from the flock to the number of 30,000, and 3,000 bulls; these were from the king’s possessions.