Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Build-A-Jesus*

*Thank you to Lottie Rigeaux who came up with this idea and gave it to me for a future blog some months back.

If you have ever been to a Build-A-Bear, I am convinced they have got to be one of the coolest toy businesses these days. I wish they would have had those when I was a kid. You go in and can pick what type of stuffed animal you want. Then you have it stuffed but only after you can kiss a little heart that they’ll put in for you and any sound effects. Then you pick its name and can fluff it. Then like a monument to individuality there is a wall of outfits you can pick for your new friend. It really is a child’s dream come true.

Many people treat Christianity like a Build-A-Bear. It’s like their in the store and they think they can choose a little Jesus doll and make him into what they think He should be for them. They like the whole salvation thing but they think the concept of sin is antiquated so they choose not to include that into their doll. Maybe they’ll take the grace outfit but only when it suits them, and well let’s loose fruit of the spirit outfit because really it today’s world they don’t think it’s important anymore, after all Jesus did live 2000 years ago.

Jesus and the Bible is not a smorgasbord that you can pick and choose what you think is important. You can’t just come up with your own religious form of Christianese. Revelation 22:18-19 says, “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

Many people in the world are making Jesus into their own little dolls. Matthew 24:4-5 says, “And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” Then their trying to pass off their doll as the true Christ when really it’s just what they have picked and chosen from the word. It’s so sad that so many get deceived because they really don’t know what the word says so they hear something that has a whole lot of opinion mixed with a little word and they buy it hook line and sinker. You must know what the Bible says. You must guard yourself from being deceived.

John 10:9-11 says, “ I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”

Believers, we must take God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit for who He is and not who we think we want Him to be for us. We must accept that He knows more than we do. When he might say in the word something isn’t okay, that isn’t to hurt us. It is for our protection. There have been many a time in my walk with the Lord that when I didn’t understand something I have continued to ask the Lord to explain it to me, and eventually He brought understanding to me. We cannot continue to only serve and believe in the parts of the word that we think we need. It’s time we start believing and know Jesus for who He is and stop trying to make him into a little doll we can carry around for our own purposes. We must accept all of Him.

There will be a day that we will all have to stand before the Lord and give an account for our lives on this earth. Call it checking out at the cashier in the store if you will. I don’t want God to examine the Jesus I brought to Him to hand it back and say, “I’m sorry but that’s not me.” The Bible says that many will call him Lord, Lord on the day of judgment and unfortunately to many his response will be, Matthew 7:23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Do you feel like your digging a well with a post hole driver?

I recently reheard a story of my families past that got me thinking. My dad was telling me of helping my grandfather and great grandfather dig a well. He and my uncle were expected to dig this well with a post hole driver. I actually had to Google images to see what a post hole driver was, looking at them made me realize how ill equip using one would be to dig a well. My dad laughed as he told me that they went down inch by inch. At what seemed like a snails crawl. Several times they thought that they would hit water to find out it was only a pocket and they had to dig further. Finally, after hours they struck water.

I remember many years ago setting in church feeling all annoyed because things in ministry were taking longer than what I thought they should. Pastor Arthur spoke a word from the pulpit about how Navy Seals are sometimes trained to maybe only move an inch a day and it’s so the enemy can’t see that their getting closer and closer to their mark. However, eventually they get there.

Sometimes in life it can feel that you’re getting to the things God had told you at the pace of the post hole driver. When really you want to get there now, you have to realize that the process teaches you more along the way than you may realize.

Do you remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare? The hare eventually wins the race because he stays steady and consistent. It is the same in the Kingdom of God. Those who endure shall reap the harvest. Those who are consistent. Those who are stable. Matthew 24:13 says, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

Mark 4:16-18 says, “ These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word” Notice here that the ones who do not have roots are ones that do not endure. You must go deep to dig roots in your walk with God. Sometimes you may feel like your digging with a tablespoon but even if its that slow, constantly doing that will eventually get you to where you need to be in God.

So often, we think we just cannot endure anymore, and we just cannot go on. I promise you though God has not given up on you. God is a consistent and faithful God. He is patient with you. Psalm 100:5 says, “For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

I am convinced that if left unchecked frustration can become a wedge between you and God. I assure you that God is faithful! He has given you the grace and ability to do the things He has called you to do. Do not allow your frustration to linger between you and God. Realize He is getting you right where He needs to even if it‘s only an inch at a time.

If you do not give up, you will see the promises! Eventually my dad and my uncle struck water with that post hole driver. They were consistent and did not give up. Don’t you give up on the things God has for you today. Your harvest, your breakthrough is right below the surface and God’s about to bring you to the other side.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are you trying to dry clean a dead cat?

While my grandfather was here over the last weekend he shared a story with me that is hilarious, but I can defiantly teach on. I thought I’d share it with you today and my take on it. There were two neighbors. The first neighbor had a cat and the other a dog. The dog never got along with the cat and one day to the horror of the second neighbor the dog came home carrying the dead cat in its mouth. The cat was a mess. It was dirty and its hair matted. So the neighbor washed the dead cat up, dried it with a hair dryer and brushed its fur so that it was clean. In the night he snuck over to his neighbor’s porch to put the dead cat on the mat in front of the door. He didn’t want to admit to the neighbor that it was his dog that had killed the cat. The days went by. The owner of the dog didn’t hear anything much about the cat from his neighbor and the suspense was eating at him. Finally several weeks later the neighbor decided to ask the cat owner what happened to his cat because he hadn’t seen it over on his property lately. He’d prepared his speech to make his question sound as nonchalant has possible. To which the neighbor responded, “You know the funniest thing happened with that cat. It died. I buried it and it show up on my back porch dry cleaned the next day.”

People treat sin much as they do the dead cat. They don’t want to admit to the sin in their lives so they try to sugar coat it. They try to dry clean it and make it look pretty because they think just maybe they might get away with the act. It’s like we try to deceive ourselves and the world around us by thinking just maybe if I smile really cute they won’t realize what is really on the inside. No matter how many times that neighbor tried to wash and dry clean that cat that cat is still dead.

1 John 7-9 says, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 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.”

The more we try to lie to ourselves about our sin the more we have a door open to deception in our lives. God wants for us to just confess it, repent and move on with our walk in Him. The more we try to lie to ourselves thinking we’re going to get away with the sin the further we fall. I always say that I believe most of the battle of getting rid of sin in our lives is admitting to ourselves that we have this sin that we need to get rid of. Because once we’ve stopped trying to sugar coat it we can see that it’s there, let it go, and change our action.

Jeremiah 25:5 says, “They said, ‘Repent now every one of his evil way and his evil doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD has given to you and your fathers forever and ever.”

Serving the Lord does not mean your perfect. But we must be humble enough before God to admit your sin. If you want to move forward from the place you are now, and step into what God wants for you you’ll stop trying to lie to yourself about those little things in your life. You’ll stop trying to dry clean the dead cats and just accept their dead. Repent before the Lord. Admit to yourself that it’s sin. Turn from your ways, and go forward in the things of God.

Ask yourself what sin have you tried to sugar coat and dry clean before God? What are you trying to hide .Jeremiah 17:10 says” I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” While you may think you can be fooling everyone, you’re not fooling God. He sees what is going on. Search your heart today. Admit to God in the areas you’ve messed up. Be honest with yourself, and those around you. No matter how many times you may try to wash and dry clean a dead cat “sin” it’s still dead. Call it what it is. Come before the Lord and repent. Make a vow that from this day forward you will go forward and leave that dead cat and never pick it back up again. You’ll be glad you did.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

God Can't Keep His Eyes Off Of You!

When my youngest daughter was only a few days old I remember a particular moment. I watched her sleep and couldn’t believe that she was my daughter. I was in awe of the creation of her. I had been trying to spend some time with the Lord at the time, and finally I said to God, “I’m sorry I’m not getting into prayer like I’m trying to, but I just can’t take my eyes off of her.” I heard the Lord respond to me, “It’s okay, because I feel the same way about you. I can’t take my eyes off of you.”

I don’t think many people realize how much God loves us as His creation. Many people have this deceived concept of God that He’s some big guy up there waiting to just slap people or drop a piano on them the minute they make a mistake. That view isn’t true. God loves us. He delights in us. He thinks we’re awesome.

John 3:17-18 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

God does things out of love for his children. He’s not up there trying to point a finger at you. He loves you. Jesus did not come to tell everyone they were sinning. He came so that we could have a chance at Heaven. His motivation was not to tell the world they were a bunch of evil people. His motivation was saying, “Hey I love you so much I want you to come to Heaven to live with me one day! I love you!”

Zechariah 2:8 says, “For thus says the LORD of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.”

God sees you. He knows the in’s and out’s of you. You are his child.

Remember that “The Father Up Above Is Looking At You In Love!” If you’re thinking today that God is mad at you, or that you have walked outside of his love. That’s not true. His eyes are on you. He loves His creation. He loves you so much that He cares about every little thing in your life. Remember He can’t take His eyes off of you!


 

 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Will you act like Cain?

Yesterday in my time with the Lord, I felt very strongly to go read Genesis 4:1-15. In it is the story of Cain vs. Able. I suggest you go and read it for yourself. I’m going to paraphrase. Basically God is pleased with Able’s offering and not Cain’s. I’ve heard teaching done on this as to why, and for the sake of this teaching I’m not getting into that part of this story. Just that God was pleased with Able and not with Cain. Cain get’s angry and jealous of his brother, and so he kills him. As I read this story it was as if a Holy Ghost 2X4 of revelation smacked me upside the head. Cain and Able’s are happening all the time today in the church as a whole.

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Matthew 12:34 says, “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Luke 6:45 says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

 

What’s my point here? What I see happening in the church is that people are seeing ones that God’s favor is upon them, and instead of questioning themselves as to what is wrong with themselves their “killing” their brother and sister in the Lord by talking bad about them and spreading gossip.

So what is God’s response to Cain’s sin? Genesis 4:11-12 Basically, Cain has cursed himself and no longer what he put’s his hand to will prosper.

Let’s recap for a moment here: Cain is jealous of the favor of God on Able’s life, He kills his brother, and as a result he loses the favor of God on his own life.

Isn’t great that we live after Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection? If you’ve “killed” your brother and sister in the Lord it’s not too late for you. You can repent, and get right with the Lord. The favor of God has not left you forever. If you want to be back in right standing with God just repent and move forward.

It amazes me how jealousy and strife spring up in the church when people start getting blessed. It might be easy to look at your brother and sister in the Lord and wonder why they are getting all this favor of God and your not, but get your eyes off of them. You don’t know what that person went through to get where they are today. You have not walked in their shoes. You just want their end result. It’s easier to pass judgment on an individual when you can do it from the comfort of your own space. But to get what they have you have to shut your mouth and go through the process of what God has in front of you. You cannot continue to “kill” your brother and sister in the Lord and expect to get blessed. What is so sad to me is sometimes people think it’s okay to spew gossip if you don’t even know the person. An offense against God’s people is still and offense against His people whether you know them or not.

Matthew 12:36 says, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.”

In short in the words of Thumper. … If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Are you acting like you Father?

When I was growing up, my dad had a phrase he used to use on me all the time. It was the classic, “If you don’t quit your crying I’m going to give you something to cry about.” I hated that line as a kid. I was always looking at my dad like, “duh, if I didn’t have a reason to cry I wouldn’t be crying.” It is funny how when, both time as an adult, and having your own children can put things into perspective. I have found myself often saying that to my own kids. Today I think the phrase is pure genius. I mean really how is it that kids can whine over the littlest of things. It is funny but during your adolescence, you think that you are nothing as your parents but the older you get you realize that you have become similar to them on many levels. Don’t get me wrong. . .break the bad habits, but what I’m saying is that you realize as an adult that they really did know what they were talking about on many things.

It should be the same with your heavenly Father. The older you get in the Lord you should find yourself acting more and more like him. The more you have grown in him and spent time with him you should see yourself using some of His phrases. You should begin to see yourself the way He sees you.

John 14:7-8 in the Message translation reads, “Jesus said, "I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You've even seen him!" What Jesus is saying here is that because they had all seen Him, they have also seen the Father in heaven.

Are people seeing God in you, or are they seeing the “father” of this world? Are they seeing God in you, or a fleshly nature? If you have asked Jesus in your heart, you are now God’s representatives on this earth. What are people seeing in you?

Leviticus 20:26 says, “You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.” You have been set apart from God. You have been bought with a price. Find it no coincidence that sometimes you do not fit in with the world. For you are not a child of the world, but a child of the most High God! That’s okay! That is a good thing!

I had to laugh recently I was talking to my mom, and she was telling me about getting mad at her as a kid because I didn’t fit in with a particular crowd and the way I saw it at the time was it was her fault for raising me in such a way that I thought differently. I had to laugh at her reminiscence. I’m sure the story true. For years, I tried to fit in with what certain people thought I should be and to act. Finally, a day drew where I was tired of playing the game. I was tired of not being true to the person God had created me to be, and almost as if overnight I began to step into the person that I truly was. It was who God created me to be on this earth. I stopped pretending. I stopped trying to fit in with a particular crowd.

Folks, we have to stop trying to fit in with the world. We’re not on this earth to be like them, but to help bring them to Jesus. If they don’t see any difference in you then how will they know they need what you have? You have to make a stand for righteousness. You have to make a stand for truth. No, it’s not easy. However, when you spend that time with your Father in Heaven you will begin to act more and more like Him. You will begin to realize it doesn’t matter what people may say or think about you. What matters is if you made your Daddy in Heaven proud. Did you act like Him in this certain situation? May it be a compliment to you if someone persecutes you for your faith. For it’s not you that they don’t like it’s the Father inside of you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Excuse Me, But Your Vague Indifference Is Showing. . .

I have noticed a growing trend in our society, and I see it seeping in the church more and more every day. It alarms me. I’m talking about as a culture we’ve stopped truly caring for each other. Sure, we pretend we do. We go to church put on our plastic smiles and pretend that we love our brothers and sisters in the Lord. But deep down we are so concerned about our own issues that we really don’t care. We’re faking it. Understand that I put myself in this category too.

I’ve often made this comment about corporate America “that it used to be that when we saw our boats leaking we genuinely wanted to fix the boat and improve it. In today’s culture we want to just throw the weaker ones out into the water and make the boat lighter.” We’ve stopped genuinely caring about our fellow man, and instead only pretend to when it meets our needs. We have become a society who stereotypically will watch a train wreck and never think of the peoples lives at stake. We’ve become so desensitized to the world around us that we don’t care about individuals that are not in our inner circle.

Jesus had genuine compassion for people. Matthew 14:14 says, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” He had compassion and the signs, wonders and miracles began to flow. Philippians 2:1-3 says

“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”

Folks it is grieving to see how little people care about each other anymore. There is a commanded blessing in unity (Psalm133:2), without genuine compassion how is the church ever going to step into it’s place in this end time generation.

This may be a growing trend in our society, but as a church at large we must choose to be different. We must make a stand and make ourselves truly care for each other. People need to see Jesus in us. They need to see that we love them despite what they look like or the times they feel the need to continue to bug us with problems we feel are small and mundane. 1 Corinthians 12:25-27 (NIV) says, “so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” God is coming back for a unified bride. Choose to love each other. Choose to care!

We as the church can no longer plead vague indifference. We must unite tighter than we have ever before as a church. We must come together and raise a standard. Because I’m telling you right now that we are approaching a season in the church where we must be a united front. People need to see our love for each other, and see that we’re different. If miracles, signs, and wonders are going to flow in our churches it starts with a revival in our lives. It starts when we choose to cast off ignorance and put on compassion. It starts when we allow God to teach us how to love each other. It starts when we get our eyes off of ourselves and our own circumstances and allow God to flow through us as a body. Purpose in your heart to love people today. An old friend of mine used to always say that “Christians are supposed to love the Hell out of people.” Are you loving the Hell out of people, or are you merely pretending to care?

If I come across as a little harsh, I don’t mean to. But I’m righteously angered, and I know that there have been times were I myself have missed it in this area. We must begin to truly care for each other, and stop pretending to.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I fell through a window!

The day before my last day of fifth grade I was waiting outside after school for my sister to come and pick me up. We’re just under six years apart and since she had her license she would pick me up after school. I was bored, and she must have been running late. The middle school had a submerged first floor so the windows of the first floor were ground level. There are times when you’re bored and you don’t think anyone is watching that you can choose to make stupid decisions and this was one of those times for me. I decided to step down into a cemented off small pit in front of the art room window and wait for her there. But I didn’t stop there. I thought no one is watching. . . I wondered what would happen if I leaned up against this window. The next thing I knew I was in the art room. Shards of glass laid around my body as if confetti. My head throbbed because I’d landed directly on it. No one was in the room and I looked at my hand to see blood already beginning to form in cuts from the glass. Managing to get myself up slowly, I walked through the boiler room to find a teacher in the hallway. When my sister finally did show up she was annoyed because I wasn’t waiting for her out front until she found out I was hurt. All in all beside the broken window I just ended up with a really badly bruised head for awhile.

There are times in life where you can feel as if you’ve waited and waited for the things of God to manifest, and because you haven’t seen them do so you can make some unwise choices. It’s easy to reason in your head, “Well, I haven’t seen anything yet. So what difference does it make if I make a bad choice?” I promise you it does make a difference!! You do not know when God will return. You do not know when God will put you in a place where he needs you.


Matthew 24:43 says, “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.”


Matthew 25 The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins says,“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

The devil wants to lie to you. He wants you to think that its okay you can go off and make unwise choices. He’ll try to tell you it won’t matter, but in 1 Peter 5:8 it says,” Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

We must stay on guard. We must stay on alert. We must not think that just because we don’t fruit from our labor yet that it won’t happen. We must not thing just because Jesus hasn’t come back yet for his church in the end times that it won’t happen. I assure you that one day it will. The day will come where He will show up for you, and you need to be waiting for him. If you’ve gotten off course some where then repent and get right back to where God wants you. You need to be alert! You need to say, “I’m right here!” You need to be like the five gals in the virgin’s parable who were prepared. Because the time is drawing nigh, and “I was bored” is not going to be a suitable excuse in the eyes of God. If you keep putting it off you may not have an opportunity later. Be on alert!