Celebrating Me

This past Easter weekend I heard a K-LOVE disc jockey tell her listeners that on occasion we should celebrate ourselves. For those of you not familiar with K-LOVE, it is a Christian radio station that plays great music and often delivers bad theology.

The young lady’s main point I believe she was trying to get across is that every once in a while, it is good to pamper ourselves. Although that is not at all what she conveyed, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. Her exacts words were, “Celebrate you, because Jesus does!”

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Mocking Jesus

There are times when I forget that I am going to have to give an account for every action and word I take and speak. Thankfully, God gives me reminders of this eternal truth and one such reminder came yesterday at church.

Our pastor is preaching on Christ’s seven sayings from the cross. Yesterday he was reading from Matthew 27 when the reminder came to my mind:

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A Web of Confusion

We are three weeks from electing a new president. I will be so grateful (if the Lord wills it) to wake up on Wednesday morning, November 9th knowing God is still on the throne. He will be on the throne regardless the outcome of our national election. While many will be shocked and dismayed by the outcome, whatever it is, God will not be among them.

Last week I caught myself entangled in a web of confusion weaved by my own emotions. I’ve allowed the cacophony of opinions to flood my soul and spirit to the point I felt I was drowning. Thankfully, God has provided my church with a pastor who is one of the wisest men I know. He wonderfully has summed up how every conversation should begin: “Meet me at the cross.”

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Training or Trying

Besetting sin is the one that keeps coming back. You return to it like a dog returns to its vomit, to borrow a phrase from the Bible. That may sound disgusting, but you are disgusted with yourself every time you recommit this particular sin. The problem is you try so hard not to. That is the problem; you’re trying not to instead of training not to.

It takes discipline to live a holy life. The Apostle Paul says we are striving for a crown. We are in a race and there can be only one victor. Victory over sin has already been won; Jesus defeated sin and death at the cross and leaving the tomb empty. So we need to live our lives in such a victory. Even though there can be only one winner in a race, we can experience victory in Jesus if we will commit ourselves to loving and obeying Him. We need to run the race because in the end we have an everlasting crown waiting for us on the other side:

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Foolish Heart

A very popular song from the 80’s was Foolish Heart by Steve Perry. Perry is warning his heart against foolishly falling in love, warns his heart that it has “been wrong before, don’t be wrong anymore.”

Many people live their lives as “one and done” if they are hurt in a relationship in order to protect themselves. Perry is wisely recognizing that our hearts can deceive us. We believe we know ourselves and yet Scripture tells us otherwise:

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Cutting Through the Deception

Random House Dictionary defines deception as, “The state of being deceived.” It further defines deceive “To mislead by a false appearance or statement; delude.” The biggest deceivers in our lives are usually us. I can convince myself that I am living a life pleasing to Christ, all the while going back to a besetting sin like a dog returns to his vomit.

Self-deception is not a 21st Century phenomenon; the Apostle John addressed this delusion from which many in the new church suffered:

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At Our Disposal

Just about every Christian radio station you listen to has its daily “power verse.” While I appreciate a good Bible verse every day, I wonder how many Christians actually allow the Scriptures to strengthen their daily lives?

Do we seek God’s word for His wisdom and strength to get through our workaday lives, or are we using Bible verses like a quick charge from an energy drink? Of course, turning to the Bible for strength in moments of weakness does help us get through the day, but God wants us to thrive instead of just survive.

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Stopped Loving God

At a recent men’s Bible study, we had split up into small prayer groups when one of the gentlemen in my group said that he had once fallen out of love with God. I told my group I once believed that is what happened, but in actuality we stop loving God.

When someone falls out of love with another, that relationship is usually over. This is how so many divorces happen. However, if a person has stopped loving another, they’ve allowed their love to grow dormant, and that can be rekindled with purposeful effort.

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A Friend So Faithful

A brother from my church recently shared how his daughter had been told by her best friend that she no longer wanted to be friends. As you can imagine, this young girl’s feelings were greatly hurt. There are few emotions that sting greater than being betrayed or rejected. The pain literally sears our soul.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a friend who would never betray, leave, or reject us?

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Finish What He Started

Giving up in life has become the new easy. If something becomes too hard, we just quit and move on to the next great adventure or idea. A trail of unfinished products and projects are strewn behind us like a pathway of defeat and misery. If things don’t go our way, we just find a new way. Abandonment is how we deal with setbacks.

Aren’t you glad God doesn’t give up on us so easy? Imagine if God saw my behavior and said, “That’s it David, I can’t take this relationship anymore! You’ve failed me one time too many.” Now, if God was like that He would have given up on me some thirty years ago. Thankfully our God is abundantly gracious and merciful. I love the chorus from the MercyMe song “Finish What He Started:”

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Behavior Betraying Beliefs

One of my greatest challenges as a Christian is being judgmental. At times it seems like there is a fine line between standing on the word of God and casting my personal judgments upon another. If I am going to be a dispenser of grace, I have to take into account the dual nature of a Christian. This does not mean that I excuse sin, but I should not be quick to judge a person as lost because of their behavior. As my pastor says, “Sometimes are beliefs don’t match our behavior.”

Pastor Dennis was talking of the time when David pretended to be insane in the land of Gath, the home of Goliath. Saul had been pursuing David to kill him out of jealousy and David fearfully fled to enemy territory instead of relying on God to protect him. This is why in his later years David could write:

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Disgracing the Cross

This past Sunday, our Youth Pastor Andrew Bosak said that refusing to forgive is a disgrace to the cross. That immediately struck a chord in my spirit because I personally know what bitterness can do to a person’s soul. My angst towards my father for more than twenty years almost ruined me emotionally. When I finally recommitted my life to Christ, surrendering all control to Him, the first thing the Holy Spirit instructed me to do was to forgive my father.

I was overwhelmed by the thought. I thought getting back to Christ and living a sold out life to Him would be incremental. It has been, but Jesus knows my heart and He knew that the biggest stumbling block in my life was my bitterness towards my father. I had to forgive him if I wanted to grow in my walk with Christ. Andrew reminded me of the verse that God showed me to help me along:

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Repairing the Fracture

Bitterness is emotional cancer and will eventually destroy the life of the embittered one and those around him or her. There can be a number of reasons for someone to feel bitterness towards someone or something, but in the end none of those reasons really matter. What really matters, is that if you hold bitterness in your heart, you will suffer more than anyone else.

I’ve seen a lot of bitterness come out of this presidential election cycle. Satan must be delighting in all he sees. No matter where you stand politically, if you have been involved in this year’s election, you’ve no doubt been attacked or worse yet been on the attack.

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Joining the Were’s

Men are using ladies’ bathrooms. Government is so corrupt that we willingly support morally corrupt candidates. Society is so debased that it opposes any biblical standards. Christians compromise their beliefs because it is the road less traveled. Is there any hope remaining for this nation? The answer is, of course, yes.

However, for that hope to be realized Americans in general, and Christians specifically, are going to have to understand the root of America’s problems. America is not facing a political or economic problem. If that were the case our country’s issues would have been resolved long ago. America’s national malady is that we are spiritually sick. We no longer, outside and inside the church, allow the Bible to be our moral compass.

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A False Christianity

You’ve no doubt heard that all religions lead to heaven and worship the same god. If this is true, then Christianity is a lie. Christianity is the only religion where salvation comes through grace alone, by faith in Christ. All other religions require some sort of works to receive salvation. This means Christianity is the opposite of all other religions. Two opposing belief systems can be wrong, or one can be right. However, both cannot be right.

Believers around the world celebrated Christianity’s holiest day yesterday. Most call it Easter; others prefer to call it Resurrection Sunday. Regardless its name, a Risen Savior is the center of the celebration. Many denominations are now rejecting a crucified and risen Christ. This too is a false Christianity. The Bible declares as much:

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Despairing of Relief

Author and Pastor John Ortberg tells the story of when he first began his preaching ministry, no less than five minutes into his sermon, he would pass out cold. He would just faint right in the middle of his message. He jokingly says this is not a good attribute for an aspiring preacher. Thankfully he’s overcome this tendency, although the feelings do arise at times.

While physically fainting can be an intimidating condition to deal with, spiritual fainting is an even greater obstacle to overcome. Whenever tribulation comes, we can either fight through it or faint because of it. It all depends on our spiritual strength:

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Rest for Our Souls

One thing I’ve learned about other Christians and myself during this election cycle is too often we see things through our own eyes instead of eyes of faith. We fear what man is and can do to us, thereby no longer fearing God and rejecting His will for our lives. We trust in our own strength and wiles instead of seeking deliverance and forgiveness from God.

Some have given up. They believe there is no hope for America and are waiting for God’s judgment to fall on our nation. This defeatist attitude comes from weariness and a misplaced focus on man. Too many churches across America have checked out of society to the point that the church as a whole is no longer sought out for its take on current issues.

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Facing Our Sins Squarely

One of the more concerning things I’ve heard Donald Trump say is that he has never sought forgiveness from God because he’s never seen a need to. This is not exclusive to Mr. Trump; I myself once believed this. So did most Christians before they saw their need for Christ. As much as I needed Jesus Christ to save me, so does The Donald and all who believe as him. This is not my political opinion; this is what the Bible teaches:

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10)

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The Rest We Need

Work and responsibilities take up the majority of our awaken hours. Whether we are going to a job or raising a family, the responsibilities of our labors are always before us. It is easy to get caught in the rat race, even though we are not rats. If we allow it, toiling the day away ends up being the sum of who we are. Solomon warned against this:

“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:2)

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Abandoning What We Know

Anger and fear are two emotions that can overtake our lives and bring us to destruction. There are cases of righteous anger and healthy fear, but usually those are not what consume us. Our imaginations can be preoccupied with fret, worry, and thoughts of revenge that lead us down the wrong path. Those paths always lead to wickedness:

    “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on.” (Proverbs 4:14-15)

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