Do you really know the Gospel message?

God created everything. He created this earth and everything in it, including you and me. He created us in his image meaning we are smart, we are willful, we have emotions, and we have an internal compass that helps us intuitively know right from wrong even if we were never taught these things. God created us to be holy too, because He is holy. Holy means to be set apart, to be pure. We once were fully 100% holy and pure. But remember, God made us willful and smart in his image. Even though he created us, we somehow decided we knew better. We were deceived into thinking we could control our lives without God; that we were right, and his commands to us on how were were to live our lives were optional, so we did our own thing. We went left, when God clearly asked us to go right. 

That one decision to live outside of God’s will (the rules he set for us) caused us to no longer be pure. We were now on our own. No longer able to be with God. We willfully separated ourselves from God in a selfish act of desiring to be our own master, our own god. Through this departure from God brought massive consequences of sin. No longer were were following the righteous will of God, but the sinful will of our own flesh. Sin became the outpouring of who we are. Sin, while often thought of as an act, is the essence of who we ARE. Sin is our state of being. Sin means we are no longer holy, we are separated from God, on our own, living for ourselves 100% of the time. 

This sin state of being has horrendous ramifications. It manifests itself in different ways for different people. For some, sin shows in big ways that we all know and hate such as murder, rape, and grand theft. However, for the majority of us it manifests in small ways, such as white lies to get out of a parking ticket, stealing office supplies from our work, “borrowing” music and movies illegally on the Internet, cheating just a bit, or a lot on our taxes, making false insurance claims to get a better outcome, gossiping about a friend to make ourselves look better, all in an effort to live a life that seems to be free but is full of bondage. Sin is a lifestyle marked by self-serving behavior. Again, sis not an act, but it is who we are. It is the very fiber of our being.

If you were to vote for a new judge for the Supreme Court Justice, I would bet you would not vote for one who uses the slogan, “Vote for me, All go free!” That would defeat the purpose of a judge. We want the most impartial judge. Our souls still cry for justice when we, or a fellow human being are wronged. God is the ultimate Judge. He created you, He created me. Because He created us all, that means He has ultimate ownership, authorship, and He can do what he likes with us regardless of what we think because that is fair. When I create art, a meal, a child, I am in charge. I am the authority over that creation. I decide where it goes, what it does, and how it moves forward. I am in an authoritative position over anything I create (within moral reason with a child, but I hope you get where I am going here). 

It is the same right of God. If you agree that God is the Creator of this world, including you and me, then we must agree that God has an authoritative right over all of His creation. Ultimately that is why sin is considered, by the vast majority, to be a bad thing. It must be punished. Sinful acts are an outpouring of our sin nature. Our desire to be in charge and our desire to do what we want rather than what God, our Creator has asked us to do, deserves punishment. We do not deserve a get-out-of-jail-free card simply because we are “pretty good”. He is holy, yet we are no longer holy. We cannot be in the presence of God without judgement. There needs to be a reconciliation in order for us to be right before God again. A created thing that goes rogue, deserves to be found and put down. We deserve death, which would be our jail sentence. That is what Hell is all about. Hell is our prison cell. We get a glimpse of what it is in the Bible, and believe me, you do not want to go there. Just a few descriptive words about it are enough to make your skin crawl: eternal damnation, weeping, gnashing of teeth, eternal fire, unquenchable thirst. This jail cell is where we are all headed for eternity because of our separation from God. 

Here is where the reality of our state gets wildly interesting and almost too incredible for words. God is love. He is not just loving, He does not just love us, but he IS love. He is the very source of love. He knows we are weak. He knows we need Him. He knows our flesh is strong. He stepped in and did the one thing we could never do. He came down to live among us perfectly. He sent his only Son, Jesus, God in the flesh, to live a perfect life. Something none of us could ever do. He lived literally a perfect, sinless life. He was our proxy. Then, in an inconceivable act of mercy and grace, He died the very death each and every one of us deserve to die. He was guiltless. He lived the life we never could only to die the death each of us should. Death on a cross. A horrendously humiliating, excruciatingly painful and draw-out death. He reconciled my life, He reconciled your life to God through His death. He paid our penalty. He satisfied the Judge. He stepped in for us!

As if that were not enough, Jesus came back to life. He defeated death. He defied nature. He is a living proof of what we get to experience some day. It almost seems too good to be true! It seems like a great fairy tail. But it is real. The veracity of the Bible, the actual life, death, AND resurrection of the man Jesus has been documented and proven even by those outside of the Christian faith! So why are there millions upon millions of people who still don’t believe and may never give their live to Christ? Our sin nature is so deeply rooted and woven into the fiber of our souls that we want it not to be true. God still gives us a choice. He still gives us our will. Our will wants to satisfy ourself. Our soul cannot and will not bow to another. The throne room of our hearts already has someone firmly seated on it’s seat: ourself. There is hope, however!

God calls His children. One by one, His Holy Spirit convinces and convicts us of our sin, of our need for holiness and righteousness, and He presses on our heart the very heavy burden of our sin and need for judgement. The Holy Spirit works in us, quickening our heart to desire after God’s heart. He shows us the reality of our sin and the glory and splendor of what it means to be free of that burden. The simple yet profound act of placing our life in the hands of the Almighty God becomes a 180 degree shift from self to God. We must turn from our idol of self and turn to a life where Jesus is the only One able to sit on the throne of our heart. We must raise the white flag, admit that we were wrong, seek forgiveness from our sin, and admit that ownership is not ours, but our Creators. We must trust fully in Jesus. We must follow hard after Him knowing others will despise us. As a follower of Jesus, we now recognize the futility of living for our “self” and realize the beauty of a grace and mercy-filled life of living for God. 

Friend, if you are on the wrong side of this, I implore you, by the mercy of God, to get reconciled to God. Place your trust and faith in Him alone. Turn away from your sin and yourself and turn to God. The peace and love and mercy and grace will wrap around your heart and give you courage and strength to follow hard after Him. There is no magic prayer. There is no “ticket to Heaven” only to go back to a self-serving life. If you have raised the white flag, read the Bible. That is how God speaks to us. Pray all the time, talk to God, ask for Him to forgive you of your sin. Ask Him to give you faith and wisdom to do His will. Share with others what you have found!

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There needs to be change. Coram Deo.

I am tired. Worn down by my own flesh. How do I maintain this effort? How do I reconcile my lowly pathetic life with my desire to be a highly useful and worthy ambassador for God in a world full of darts and flames. I desire in my heart reformation. My flesh fights every second of the way. There needs to be change. There needs to be repentance. There needs to be faith. There needs to be whole hearted devotion to the Almighty Creator. Coram Deo. Before the face of God. In the presence of God. For the glory of God. Always. Always. Always.

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.

A Day of Grief and Incurable Pain

Have you ever done something you knew was wrong? Of course you have. You are human. Yesterday I was taught a rather harsh life lesson from God that had I known was going to be so harsh I would have never done what I did. But then, that’s how it goes, right? This is sort of long as it recounts a rather intense snapshot of my day so please bear with me.

I’m one of those people who have problems with authority. So much so that I have to verbally confirm whenever I can that if I place myself under someone’s authority then I fully understand that God will judge that person on how well they lead me and I will be judged on how well I obey the person leading whether that person is right or wrong. When we place ourselves under leadership we hope and pray that they will lead us correctly, but in the end there will be some things that they do wrong. Interestingly, we will not be responsible for their leading, just our obeying.

So, after multiple conversations about this with several people in my life recently, it happened. I lead someone wrong. Mostly in my life I am a follower when it comes to anything spiritual, however in one very specific area, God has allowed me a major form of leadership for a short time: I am a mom to a bright little boy named Jacob. Here is what happened.

Two days ago Jacob got an upset stomach, some sort of bug, and I found him in his room rather upset. We chatted about it and he said it was going away. I asked him if he prayed about it and he told me yes, that he told God he would not play a certain video game all day tomorrow if God would make his tummy feel better. ***TEACHING MOMENT*** bannered across my head. I told him that is a bad place to put God. God is not a genie in a bottle waiting to be bargained with. He is GOD. We got on a great conversation about how big God is and how potentially bad it is to get in the habit of bargaining with the Almighty Creator of the Universe. He got it. He began to cry. He began to pray for forgiveness. We talked some more and I was able to tell him it is OK, he did not know, and God knew I would be here to teach him the right way. It was a great teaching moment. I shared with him that God not only loves Jacob but that he LIKES him too. God knows we are dust and knows we need His patience.

Fast forward to Jacob coming home from school the next afternoon and he instantly asked if he could go back on his vow and please could he play his video game. I told him absolutely not. Flash forward 2 hours later and now I am trying to get work done and he is in typical “bored out of his mind because he can’t do what he wants” mode. I have an appointment that should only last 30 minutes so I tell him, OK, go ahead and play the video game. I will allow it. BIG MISTAKE. He plays it. I get my work done. After 30 minutes I take him to the pool. We talk. I ask him how he felt playing his game. He said, not great. I told him that is his conscience bearing witness against him. He says, yes, but I am the one at fault. Remember, I told you this is a story about my “bright” son Jacob. He is often the one teaching me the lesson. I ask him how it is that I am at fault. He said simply, “Because you are my mom and you said I could play.”

NAILED IT! He was right. I can’t remember but I like to think I said I was sorry but honestly I don’t think I did. We went on with our evening. He went to bed and I decided to do something to help my ear problems. Needless to say what I did was stupid, but based on how I have done this in the past, the outcome this time was not normal. I was given a heaping serving of pain like I have never felt. Worse than childbirth and I did that without any pain killers, fully natural. That was hard. This was about 10 times harder. I felt like someone was sticking knives, literal knives into my skull and slightly turning them. The reason this pain was so bad was because there was no relief. It lasted for 4.5 hours with me crying so loud I’m surprised my neighbors did not call the cops. At the 4.5 hour mark, I was able to stop crying in agony and the pain sort of subsided but only in that I could sit still clenching my teeth for another 1.5 hours at which point I finally fell asleep for 1 hour sitting upright only to be woken up by the pain for another hour, although the last hour was a dull manageable pain.

A lot goes on when you are in that much writhing pain without any relief. I have never EVER gone through anything like that. To say I got a good look at my sin is an understatement. About 2 hours in (mind you I am used to this pain because I have sinusitis really bad but I know it will pass in 10 minutes) I start to realize God is trying to teach me something bigger here. What? When you are in that much pain it is hard to think about anything else. So I turn on my audio Bible and listen. I listen to two back to back days of Bible reading: Isaiah 13-18. And there it is. A small part of a verse tucked in Isaiah 17:11. “…in a day of grief and incurable pain.”

My mind went to all those people in my life who will potentially end up on the other side of eternity gnashing their teeth. Writhing in incurable pain. Such grief as they have ever known. Forever and ever. What a picture. What incredible sorrow I felt. Then my mind raced to Jesus. 6 hours! SIX. LONG. HOURS. He endured pain on the cross. Not just any pain. The worst kind of pain. Something I am sure my pain compared not. It was then that I did the math. I knew, just KNEW God was going to make this thing last for 6 hours. I can’t tell you how I knew but I did. I was humbled to say the least. My mind became clear and I knew what I had done wrong. YOU, my dear reader, know what I did wrong. I was given one leadership job: my son. And I failed. I broke Jacob’s vow to God. I had caused one of the least of these to sin. I deserved every ounce of pain plus more. I was horrified. I took my licks. I woke Jacob up in the morning and apologized. I learned my lesson. I was a bad steward of the “talent” God had given me. Jacob is one of my “talents” and my job is to grow him. My selfish world got in the way of upholding something I tried to teach him was of the utmost importance: God. Then I tossed God aside for just a second. For what? For a stupid worldly appointment. For a worldly peace and quite so I could get my work done.

Needless to say, my world has shifted. I will have a very hard conversation with Jacob today after school. I will have a very hard conversation with my husband today. It is the hard things in life that help us grow. I hope to never have to endure the kind of pain I experienced last night but I also would never trade the experience for anything. The lessons I learned were priceless. I became resolved to endure whatever I need to for the sake of growth and the sake of loving and following Jesus. Nothing else matters. He matters. I resolve to stop messing around and be a better mom, a better wife, a better friend, a better servant, a better slave to Christ.

Got Truth?

1 John 1:8 ESV
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

The insidiousness of self deception is tricky. On the one hand we look to the obvious route of flattery and self-love. The idea that a human knows in his or her heart that they are wrong in their thinking but choose to deceive themselves. I don’t think this is what John meant when he wrote 1 John 1:8. Of course we all sin. We were born in sin. We all have a sin nature. His readers knew and understood this probably way better than we do today. Today, people really do think they are better. This year, ABC News reported that 83% of Americans consider themselves Christian. A 2009 Barna poll found that 40% of American “Christians” feel that Satan is just a symbol of evil and not an actual being. That same poll found that 22% of them believed Jesus sinned while on earth. A 2013 Barna poll found that 51% of all people who identify themselves as Christian live less like Jesus and more like a Pharisee considering themselves to be self-righteous. If over half of all Christians, or at least those who call themselves Christians feel that they somehow have the ability to work their way to Heaven and overall have a general high view of themselves as being self-righteous, then, Houston, we have a problem.

There is a systemic issue in our “Christian” American society that states “I am better than my neighbor.” Very few people would consider themselves a “worm.” Our high view of ourselves has pushed out our own ability to even see that we have deceived ourselves. That is why Satan, who is real by the way, has artfully woven into our hearts the deception of our own sin and is laughing all the way to his fiery bank where he is successfully depositing soul after soul of deceived people. The deception is real and the consequences are real. Pray right now that you would not be deceived. Swap out your lofty view of yourself and trade it in for a new and improved high view of God. Beg God to reveal himself to you. Plead with him to breathe life into you that is unmistakably Truth. Ask Him that the blinders be ripped from your eyes and the stoppers removed from your ears. Recognize that you are a sinner. Recognize that we are ALL sinners. It is who we are, not what we do. Our unrighteous actions are an outpouring of our very nature.

Consider this simple question: There are three figures in the room. On the far right is Jesus. On the far left is Hitler. In the middle is anyone from history that you feel was the greatest human who ever lived such as Paul or Mother Theresa, or Ghandi. Take your pick and then in your mind place that person closer to Jesus or closer to Hitler. Got it? Are they in position? Now do the same with yourself. Where would everyone be in the lineup? Closer to Hitler or closer to Jesus? This little “test” is done again and again in seminary schools across the nation. Guess where most students place Paul or any of the historical “good” figures? Closer to Jesus. Where did you place yourself? Probably closer to Jesus but not as close as the example figures. If that is how you answered, I can assure you that you and every other person who answered that way is dead wrong. Every single person should be firmly planted right next to Hitler. Not close to him, not sort of in the middle, but right next to him. This is where our warped sense of self comes into play. You may be wondering why? How absurd? The simple answer is because Jesus is GOD and the rest of us are sinners. We have no business thinking we are any better than any other human. We are ALL sinners. Of course we will be judged based on the fruit of our life in light of bringing God glory, however the simple notion that I am somehow better than others is a very slippery slope of deception. Get right with God. Study who He is. Change your view of Him. Raise it as high as you can think and then raise it again and again. You can never go high enough. I pray that the Truth is in you and that you have not deceived yourself. The blessing of having hope that is built on confident assurance is something easily missed but oh so precious when you get it. Get hope. Get truth. Get God.

Son of Thunder Strikes Again

1 John 1:7 ESV
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Verse 7 is in contrast to verse 6 however it is different than we might expect. In verse 6 John writes, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” In verse 7, instead of saying “If we walk in the light, we have truth and fellowship with God” John states we have fellowship with one another referencing back to verse 3 where he is clear we have fellowship with each other because we have intimate fellowship with the Father and the Son. Do not put off being involved in your local church. Do not just be a pew warmer. If you died today, would you be missed at your church? If the answer is no, you have some work to do. There are three things you should be involved at your church: corporate worship (going to church on Sunday), small group study, like a men’s or women’s bible study or small fellowship group, as well as a service area, such as serving in the kids ministry, or being a greeter, or even serving in cleaning the bathrooms, the list is endless for service, but also remember that every need is not a calling. Find the area that best suits you and the gifts God has given you, but definitely be committed to your church.

John does not mince words and he is clear in how we should live and conduct our lives. He is calling out those who “claim Christ” yet do not live in the light. Light is often a symbol in all cultures as purity, knowledge, good, righteousness, and joy. Do you conduct your life in light of light? Do you consider yourself saved yet live a life in contrast to light? Do you feel you are a pretty good person and feel that you do, in fact, walk in light yet are a slave the things of this world? Things like your work, your kids, your hobbies, your material possessions, or your desire for a bigger house. Does the darkness have a foothold on you through your cellphone, your iPad, the internet, binge TV watching, sports, or any other distraction that is taking you away from living a life full of light? Don’t get me wrong. These things in and of themselves are not bad. It is when we consider or desire them too strongly in our lives or when we desire them over being the hands and feet of God. Desire the things of God. Desire fellowship with His children. Learn. Grow. Desire that your joy will be complete. Consider the sacrifice made on your behalf. You are no longer your own. Act like it. Live like it. Live in the light.

Are You Actually Kidding Yourself Straight to Hell?

1 John 1:6 ESV
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

Fellowship was a word not used by the secular writers of the day. It meant to have intimacy with God. This was a foreign concept to both the Jews and those of other religions. But Christians understood the gospel meant that they now have access to the Father through the Son. The literal and figurative veil was torn at the death and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The resurrection and the following receiving of the Holy Spirit guaranteed and sealed their fellowship. The Holy Spirit is our internal guide. He is our Truth. Our True North. We might “say” we are intimate with Jesus. We might even go so far as to “say” we love Him and think He loves us back. The give-away that this warped sense of reality is, in fact, not true is when someone who claims Christ as the one they follow also practices unrighteousness.

The word here in Greek is περιπατέω which is transliterated as peripateō which means to walk, however the Hebrews used this word to mean the conduct of one’s life. I realize that we often speak of ourselves or others as having lost their way. But John is clear when he says if someone says they are a Christian but the conduct of their life is counter to God’s word, then they are not a Christian. At. All. I will say it again, as I have said in multiple other posts: Satan has had thousands of years to perfect the art of deception, and you better believe he is excellent at his craft. Don’t believe the lie he is telling you. Start looking at your life through Truth. Through what the Bible has to say. Please do not lie to yourself thinking you are better than the next person. What are you holding on to? While you may be a “good person” what does that actually mean? I want to give you some solid examples rather than leave this up to interpretation. Here is a very short list of typical claimed-as-non-sin “sins” people commit in entitled America who call themselves Christians but are actually not.

TYPICAL LIE #1
You are sleeping with your girlfriend or boyfriend. (I am going to expand on this first one just a bit so you can see what I mean). You have somehow justified this law as either antiquated or you are engaged or in the eyes of God you are already married.

I remember having a long conversation with an older man in my neighborhood who identified so strongly with Jesus and was extremely involved in his church. He was divorced with kids and was dating another woman from his church who was also divorced with kids. Somehow in the conversation he mentioned three things. 1. They are living together. 2. Yes, they are sleeping together but they said vows to each other so in the eyes of God they are married. 3. They are not getting along so he thinks he is going to break up with her soon. WHAT??? I could have just let it alone but I called him out on his obvious erroneous thought process. He has believed so many lies and was living one HUGE lie after another. He sort of ho-hum agreed with my rebuke and I never saw him again.

Another person in my life believes it is OK that they are sleeping together because they are getting marred and have also stated some sort of private vows. Not only is that unbiblical on several levels, it is also an issue because they were sleeping together LONG before they ever even started to talk about getting married. She agrees to disagree with me.

A friend of mine believes the man she is marrying will “come around”. She says he promised to come to church with her and she is hopeful he will get saved soon. She also says that she can walk down the isle, say her vows, and then ask God to forgive her for going against His word by becoming unequally yoked. How are all these lies are becoming truths? Satan is just that good. She is no longer speaking to me.

TYPICAL LIE #2
You call yourself a “cussin’ Christian”
What does THAT mean? Well, you say bad words. Often. Or perhaps you use the Lord’s Name in vain and really don’t think much of it. Sorry, you are living a lie.

TYPICAL LIE #3
You chase money. You tell yourself it is not money that is bad, it is the LOVE of money. While yes, that is true, it is still a lie. If you are chasing money and using that line to back up your idol, then again you are living a lie.

TYPICAL LIE #4
You are a prayer warrior. Your gift is not evangelism. You leave that to people who are gifted at talking to strangers or who are gifted at sharing the gospel with others. Usually that gift is for pastors and people in full-time ministry. Again, a HUGE lie. We ALL are commissioned to spread the gospel. ALL.

TYPICAL LIE #5
You consider yourself a normal Christian but you have friends who are Jesus Freaks. You reserve that name for the really intense Christians in your life but that is not you at all. You fit in. Your way of witnessing to others is by not being crazy, because who is really going to respond to that anyway, right? LIE!! Being a Jesus Freak does not mean being out of your mind crazy, it means living a life that is counter to how the world lives. Living based on the Bible. Yes, that would most likely put you in the Jesus Freak category, but not in the, stand-on-the-street-corner-holding-an-end-of-the-world-sign crazy. Make sense?

TYPICAL LIE #6
You attend church, you read your Bible as often as you can, maybe a few times a week, maybe every day if you remember. You go on short term missions, or you tithe or give offering to the church. You made a profession of faith when you were 13, you got baptized and you are from a Christian church. I realize not all of this describes you, but some of it may. Christianity is not a checklist. While you may do all these things, they do not, in and of themselves, make you a Christian. Check your growth. Check your fruit. This lie is one of the BIGGEST there is.

2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

The HUGE Lie about Christianity

There is a HUGE lie that is going around in regard to the picture people are painting about Christianity. “Come to Jesus, and you will find rest!” “Let Jesus into your heart because He loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!” (skip to the bold to understand why I am writing about this.)

These benefits sound amazing right!? Well, truth be told, and you know I love me some truth pills, all of that could not be further from the truth. In fact, it is the exact opposite! Jesus GUARANTEED we would have troubles in our earthly life if we chose to follow Him. I will concede, however that those statements above about finding rest, and there being a wonderful plan for your life are 100% true and 100% taken out of context. Your rest will happen in eternity. Yes, there is great peace in trusting in Jesus and knowing our final destination, however actual physical rest here on this Earth was never promised. Yes, He does have a wonderful plan for you, but it won’t be what you think of as wonderful. You won’t get the perfect job, marry the perfect person, and have a perfect life. As a Christian, that just won’t happen. Sure there will be times of great joy in this life. Be sure that God not only loves you, He also LIKES you. He will give good things to you. He will shower love on you. HOWEVER, He wants you to GROW! You will not grow unless you suffer and experience hardships. There are over 100 verses in the Bible that talk about hardships and suffering specifically for God’s children. At the end I have listed a few to give you an example.

But get this! Not only are there hardships and sufferings that God allows and sanctions in your life to help you grow, degree by degree, but there is another, quite infuriating hardship that we must endure. If you are a sideline Christian, you most likely will not experience this. If, however, you are an “all-in” fully sold out for Jesus kind of person, then you better bet you will experience this and if you don’t you should worry and question why you are not.

WARNING: This may be upsetting.
If you are a sideline Christian, I am going to challenge you to figure out what that means. Sideline Christians typically consider themselves sort of lukewarm. They may call themselves “Cafeteria Christians” or “Carnal Christians” or my favorite, “Cussin’ Christian.” My heart breaks for you if that is you. There is no room for this type of Christianity ANYWHERE in the Bible. If you consider yourself a sideline Christian, consider with all your being your actual salvation. Really study this and figure this one out. You may not be a Christian. Please read my testimony to see what I am talking about. I considered myself to be a “Cafeteria Christian.” While I did not use that phrase, when someone described it, it made perfect sense. I cherry picked all the stuff in the Bible I liked. The stuff I did not understand or felt was antiquated (really just meant for people back then, and couldn’t possibly mean for me, such as women not being able to be pastors) all this “stuff” I literally shoved out of my self-created religion.

So, where am I going with this? The closer you are to the Target, the more you will get hit. By whom? Satan and his henchmen. The Target: Jesus. All those fallen angels are wildly upset with the fact that their fate is sealed. Their one and ONLY goal is to get people messed up. They have a very skilled two-pronged approach.

    1. Get people to THINK they are Christians when they actually are not. (see Matthew 7:21-23 ESV) No really, LOOK IT UP, this may be describing you!
    2. Get the actual Christians so distracted with trial after trial, persecution after persecution, that they will not be as effective witnesses and therefore less people will come to Christ and obtain the very thing they are no longer able to get: eternal salvation.

I am writing this today because in June of this year I decided to go to a different church with my husband that was more his pace. After an entire summer being away from my church and not really involved in the new church at the request of my husband I can tell you not only was it the worst spiritual growth I have had over a 3 month period, but it was also the easiest from the spiritual battle perspective. No major trials, no major suffering, after a full, and I mean FULL 2 years of major trials, one after another every 2-3 weeks something new hitting me hard. It was exhausting, but I was also ON FIRE. I was witnessing to everyone, serving in any capacity I could, I was growing, and thriving in Christ but being beaten up literally by the world. 

I even questioned why I was getting off so easy this summer. I was nervous at the fact that God was being so silent in my life. I knew in the pit of my stomach it was because I was not as close to the Target as I am when I am at my old church. The spiritual battle is palpable at that church. I even started getting nervous about the possibility of going back because I knew I would be starting the battle again. I would be growing more and Satan does not like that, so I am sure I have some new henchmen assigned just to me. Then, on Sunday, I declared to two of my friends that I am coming back to my church since my husband has not been coming with me to the new church as promised and I never want to force him to do anything. That is not my style. Monday morning I start a potentially life-saving Periscope daily broadcast going through 1 John, one of the most convicting books in the Bible and then later that morning, I get hit with some major tax news that put me into a tail spin. Tuesday, today, my son got punched in the eye and sent to the principal’s office (soooo not like Jacob AT ALL) and I got hit with a lawsuit for imagery infringement (those of you who know me, know I am a big contender for image usage rights, but this one was an honest mistake and I am now facing legal action.) Needless to say, here we go again. Pile it on! In this life, as a sold out servant of Christ, you better believe I am going to be bombarded with distractions and suffering from Satan’s minions. But I will COUNT IT ALL JOY! I know I must endure. I must learn. I must grow. And soon, YES, very SOON, I am going to see Him face to face and for that I hold my hope close to my chest. For THAT my hope is secure.

If you find that your life is pretty easy and things tend to always go your way, I would re-evaluate where you are with your salvation and your relationship with Jesus. We are all on different paths and all have varying degrees of faith and ways in which He teaches and leads us. I look around at my friends who clearly are not Christians based simply on their lifestyles, yet they claim Christianity. Guess what? They have it pretty good. Their life is not spiritually attacked and they may be blessed in ways you and I will never be. Just remember, this may be the best they ever have it. I really REALLY want you to take time this year and evaluate your life. Evaluate your sanctification. Do a fruit audit. Get right with the living God. He may come back way sooner than we all expect!

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, (Philippians 1:29 ESV)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV)

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5 ESV)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.(Romans 8:18 ESV)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13 ESV)

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, (2 Timothy 3:12 ESV)