Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hate is such a strong word!

1 John 2:Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.
10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.


If there is one thing I can’t stand, it’s a bully. I mean it seems like I have run into them all my life.  I mean there was the guy in fifth grade and there was another in high school and some more at work only they bullied with words. 

“I just HATE them” is what I felt so I began pushing back.  I mean bullies aren’t going to push me around anymore! I lifted weights to fend off the physical bully, and learned snappy, cutting retorts to slice down the political bully. Soon I found myself going after these bullies because I could stand toe to toe with them.

  • Mild forms of hatred turn into large forms of hatred with me.
  • Mild forms of hatred are disguised in me as “things I don’t like” about that person.
  • Mild forms of hatred expose themselves when I could care less what happens to the person.

Even when I isolate myself or segregate myself or even separate myself from them it still doesn’t seem to work. I still think about them and stew over what they have done. I don’t want them to have mercy, BUT GOD does.

  • GOD wants me to love people, especially my enemies.
  • GOD wants me to love people, even those who are difficult to love.
  • GOD wants me to love people, ignoring their sin to win them over.

It is not GOD’s wish that anyone perish so why do I give up on that person so easily? GOD desires that I have patience with them because HE has patience with me.

  • Do you dislike someone?
  • Is there someone in your life who just makes you sick?
  • Is there a popular person who you just rile about?
  • Can you turn your thoughts into positive ones for “that” person?
  • Won’t you try to understand GOD’s love for you AND “that” person?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Do I really “need” GOD?

1 John 1:If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.


No more drinking was my vow to the LORD. I wanted to remain sober to do GOD’s work. No more cursing or cussin’ was my vow to the LORD. I didn’t want to “offend” other people because I was doing GOD’s work. No more offensive jokes wasn’t a vow but I figured I shouldn’t do that either.

Soon I felt like a spiritual giant.  I mean I had rid myself of “all” my sin and I could no longer hang out with the folks who were still “not pleasing” GOD. I could only listen to songs with GOD in it and news from stations where only GOD was mentioned. "Those" people would drag me down and besides, “I stopped sinning, so should they!”

  • There are times where I think I can get “better” from my sinful state.
  • There are times where I think there are different levels of sin and the sin I’m doing isn’t really sin when you compare it to “that” person.
  • There are times where I think I haven’t sinned today simply because I didn’t do the same sin I did yesterday.

It’s real easy to compare myself with others as a measure of “how well I’m doing with GOD.” I mean I see someone serving and I think I should out-serve that person or I hear of someone giving and maybe I should out-give that person.  Soon I’m in an atmosphere where I think I must be pleasing GOD because I’m not only serving people and giving but I’m not sinning too.

I must be doing great with the LORD.  Since I’m not sinning I can “judge” others so they will stop sinning and they will “fit” in with “us.” So why does it feel like I’m running out of energy?

  • GOD wants me to examine myself to realize I will always need HIM to save me.
  • GOD wants me to tell people about my sins to make them feel comfortable enough to confess their sins.
  • GOD wants me to let people know that the more they confess about themselves the larger their ministry will grow.

I was great at the spiritual act. I could put on the “walk on water” face and really look good but I found that I was actually repulsive to others and probably GOD. In fact I acted like I didn’t need GOD because I was already clean! GOD says to me "the only way to healing is by confession." In other words HE can fix me if I admit “I’m” broken.

  • Do you think you are better than “that” person because of a sin they did?
  • Do you think that just because you aren’t doing certain sins then you are clean?
  • Can you examine yourself further to see what barriers you are building up between you and GOD?
  • Could you possibly be facing the sin of “omission” or “exclusion” by not seeking the needs of people who don’t act or look like you?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A “Day” I’m looking forward to

2 Peter 3:Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.
They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”


Curiosity had gotten the best of me and finally I had to ask. “When will the world end?” The pastor I asked tried to brush me off by answering “That answer is in the book of Revelation, but you shouldn’t read it because you won’t understand it.” I’m actually glad he told this to me because that’s exactly what I did. I was a teenager so I had to do the opposite.

Over the next few decades other pastors spoke about JESUS’ return and named dates.  In fact some geographers state we only have three days left on earth because of an unfinished calendar created by a tribe. Why does this doomsday stuff sound like crazy talk?

  • When I speak about the world ending without the right context, I seem like a weirdo.
  • When I tell people JESUS is going to return and the “bad” people are going to get theirs meanwhile us goody, goodies are going to be saved, I can be exclusionary.
  • When I see the end of the world as a solution to my problems I could be sadly mistaken unless I change my focus.
The sad news is this earth is cursed by GOD. When the first humans sinned, their bodies were changed and death was introduced. The Earth could no longer function as a paradise and all humans stopped seeking GOD. JESUS repaired the relationship with humans and built a new place for those who do not reject HIS “built in” word HE wrote on every heart.

  • The basis of my belief in CHRIST is one day I will die and be with HIM eternally.
  • The basis of my belief in CHRIST is HE died for my sins, enabling me to live, after this body dies.
  • The basis of my belief in CHRIST is HE has built a new place and will return for me simply because I believe in HIS position as a savior and my need to be saved.
I am looking forward to HIS return, but I function day by day on what HE wants me to.

  • Are you skeptical or scared of the “end of the world?”
  • Can you stop focusing on the end and focus on the here and now namely showing GOD’s love?
  • Won’t you stop trying to get revenge on “those” people by wanting the world to end?
  • Can you modify your desire for the world to end tomorrow to give “that” person enough time to surrender their lives to GOD?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Batteries that go forever

2 Peter 2: 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.

Refreshed was the feeling I woke up to at the leadership retreat. Three days of being away from the grind had actually charged my batteries. We spoke about concepts that I was going to try and now I had a new way of thinking.

During my first day back we faced a crisis. It was all hands on deck and people were getting a little short tempered. I was cool and calm and we got through the storm. But the next day happened and the next week happened. Finally I was back to my fast paced, high stressed old self again.  What was that retreat about again? Hmm, I can’t seem to remember the concept I was going to implement.

  • Knowing about JESUS isn’t a short term solution to an immediate problem.
  • Knowing about JESUS isn’t a way for me to keep my sin and fool myself into thinking heaven is my home.
  • Knowing about JESUS isn’t something I can just try to stop my trial and return to my old way when the situation clears up.

JESUS wants more than “knowledge” of HIM, HE wants belief. HIS death was a permanent act and so was HIS resurrection. HE will never die again and HE will remain raised forever. I can’t simply believe HE exists rather I should believe in HIS position as the only sinless human to ever walk the earth.

Now that HE has been raised, the FATHER has placed HIM back over everything. My belief needs to be directed on my need for a savior. My birth alone is reason to be sentenced to eternal separation from HIM.

  • JESUS died for me to save me from eternal separation.
  • JESUS was raised to build a special place for me to spend eternity with HIM.
  • JESUS lives for me to eradicate every sin I have and will commit.

Will I still sin? Unfortunately yes. BUT GOD is slowly changing me to love others and to love myself, to show mercy the way HE shows mercy. I have not arrived, but I’m not the same.

  • Are you living a lifestyle that is against GOD?
  • Are you secretly or overtly sinning because you have given up on GOD?
  • Can you allow GOD to give you “purpose” that will keep you from falling away from HIM?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Living a life of purpose

2 Peter 1: 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.
15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.


With new tie in hand I proceeded to the door. The exits all looked the same because in my haste to purchase a replacement for my forgotten tie I failed to note which way I had entered. That was only the beginning of the problem. I walked out and could not find my rental car because I didn’t remember what kind of car it was nor the color. Yes the information was on the key.

After finally finding my car I returned to the hotel. When I woke the next day I could not remember what city I was in. I had travelled too much. I sat on the side of my bed and asked myself, “is this my purpose in life?”

·         When I am overwhelmed I may not be living my life purpose.
·         When I am feeling absolutely miserable I may not be living my life purpose.
·         When I am restless and want something new I may not be living my life purpose.

I made work my purpose for living and quite honestly it only got me more work. Okay, I did get more money and accolades but they soon faded and I wondered “is this it?” BUT GOD has another purpose for me.

·         GOD says remind people about what I have already written on their heart.
·         GOD says make disciples to follow ME instead of following buildings or people.
·         GOD says love those who are difficult to love while loving your family and friends.

Leaving a legacy is nice but leaving people with ways to stop rejecting GOD is better. I used to think there were humans who just had not heard of CHRIST and needed me to tell them, now I believe GOD has written HIS word on every heart and it’s up to each not to reject HIM. I serve as a reminder to follow what they already know.

·         Do you have purpose?
·         Are you living your life’s purpose out?
·         Do you realize GOD has given you talents that only you possess?
·         Can you understand “your presence” can affect the situation?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I’m learning how to follow GOD

2 Peter 1:For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;
and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.


Lonely and rock bottom was my location. I hadn’t been to church in years and I didn’t know anyone in town. The bar scene was old and I felt a bit empty.  “There has to be more to life than this” I said to myself.  I ran into someone who invited me to their church. What a strange request. I didn’t know how to respond. I mean where to start on my “messy” life?

  • Sometimes I think I can “arrive” during my life.
  • Sometimes I compare my life to other people and I set my happiness according to who I see.
  • Sometimes I think my sins are greater than GOD’s forgiveness and HE will never take me back.

My faith in GOD was tiny at that time.  I actually believed people could reach a sinless state and those who attended church were better than me. I mean they wore suits and went around quoting the Bible. I didn’t know the Bible and I definitely wasn’t “good.”  “Maybe I shouldn’t go to church” I mean would GOD take me back?

  • Going to church doesn’t make me holier but I can meet with other sinners.
  • I can never be “good” enough to save myself but I can be better than I used to be because I’m grateful for GOD’s forgiveness.
  • I will never know all I need to know about GOD but I can learn a little more about HIM just by seeking HIM.
  • I will sin but GOD helps me with self-control, perseverance and godliness in order to mature in HIS ways.

Godliness helps me see other people and their needs. I can then drop my selfishness and show them love instead of always trying to get what I want. Believing is just the beginning of my faith. GOD matures me little by little, step by step.

  • Is your life off track?
  • Do you think GOD won’t forgive you “this” time?
  • Can you stop looking at other people and just learn about GOD to see what HE wants for you?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I’m the most humble person I know

1 Peter 5:Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.


As the speaker stammered over their words I thought to myself, “I can present better than that person, why am I not on stage?” I mean from the unscientific poll I took, all the people around me believe I am the better speaker and quite honestly I “deserve” to be in that spot. I met with my boss and got this response, “you’re not ready.”

“Hmph! Not ready!? They don’t know how “excellent I am!”

  • When I am proud I am not pleasing GOD.
  • When I think more highly of myself I am not pleasing GOD.
  • When I believe I “deserve” more than what I am getting I am not pleasing GOD.

Sometimes my desires get in the way of hearing GOD. I mean I want my way so bad that I close my ears to HIM and head down my own path. When I run into trouble on my path then I turn to GOD or possibly blame HIM for my situation. Since GOD despises self-made pride, what am I to do? Should I lack confidence? Should I not speak up? GOD has another way.

  • GOD wants me to give HIM credit for every idea and plan.
  • GOD wants me to ask HIM what HE wants me to do with every idea and plan.
  • GOD wants me to be able to accept HIM changing or stopping the idea or plan.

For a goal oriented person like myself, “failure is not an option.” I will make sure “this” thing works but it usually causes me great anxiety in the process. GOD wants me to let HIM take care of all the ideas and plans and know HE cares for me so I can let go of the outcome and pay more attention to the process HE is taking me through to grow me.

  • Has your confidence turned into arrogance?
  • Do you believe that if you are not there things would fall apart?
  • Are you anxious about “failure” just because you said something should succeed and GOD may want it to fail?
  • Can you let go of the outcome of “that” idea or plan and let GOD decide on its success?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Why am I surprised?

1 Peter 4: 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.


Ever had one of those mornings? I mean this day was important because it would determine my future.  I had overslept because my alarm clock took a day off and buzzed softly that day, but I could still make it. I jumped in the car and it wouldn’t start. There was no way I was going to make it to the interview because it was clear across campus. “Why is this happening to me” I thought to myself!

  • When difficult situations arise I throw a pity party and ask why me.
  • When I feel a slightly discomforted I look around to change the environment and when I can’t I ask why me.
  • When I am not getting my way and it seems like things are breaking I throw up my hands and ask why me.

“Why me” is my question to GOD when I don’t like what’s going on.  I mean “Aren’t I serving YOU well” is my question to HIM.  Then my bargaining comparisons appear by saying “Look at those other people who don’t serve you…they seem to be getting away with everything” as if to say “GOD YOU don’t know what YOU are doing.”

  • GOD’s plan for me includes the difficulty that I go through.
  • GOD’s plan for me includes a season of pain that I must endure.
  • GOD’s plan for me includes some turbulent times that I have to persevere.

I don’t like tough circumstances, but every time I have gone through them I actually feel stronger and a bit wiser. I really shouldn’t be surprised when a situation arises. I actually should know by now that what I’m facing will grow me in ways I never would have grown had I now gone through the situation. GOD’s plan is a great one for me and I should always know that.

  • Are you going through some difficult situation?
  • Are you facing tough circumstances?
  • Can you face your situation as a growth opportunity?
  • Will you seek GOD in the middle of this storm and feel HIS comfort?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Three ways to live today

1 Peter: 4:Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.


“Why do I have to be the one who does all the work” I said to myself. Look at everyone, just sitting there while I work my fingers to the bone. Some of these people are mean and nasty anyway so they probably can’t serve I surmised. From now on, I will hold back and watch everything fall apart.

  • When I serve without love and compassion I get burnt out quickly.
  • When I am trying to put on a goody, goody front I may begin to grumble when I have to serve.
  • When I think higher of myself than I should I “hold back” my gifts as to punish those people.

It’s ashamed that GOD has to actually tell me to love people instead of it just naturally being that way. I actually have to get rid of my grumbling and complaining about others in order to serve them the way GOD wants me to serve them. HE doesn’t want my phony smile or fake behavior.

  • GOD wants me to truly care about those who are difficult to love.
  • GOD desires that I show hospitality with excitement rather than saying “why me again?”
  • GOD prepares me with gifts and talents that HE expects me to use to serve others.

It’s simple… I should love, serve and grow people the way GOD wants me to because grace has covered mu multitude of sins.

  • Are you complaining?
  • Do you see yourself grumbling about serving?
  • Can you stop thinking more highly about yourself and serve “that” person?
  • Won’t you examine your heart to see if it is too stony to have “love” in it?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Live free but show respect

1 Peter 2: 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.


“How did this idiot get picked over me” I thought to myself. I mean He has no skills, doesn’t know what I know and definitely doesn’t have the best interest of others in mind. “I” could do better if “I” were the boss.

  • Sometimes arrogance causes me to think more highly of myself.
  • Sometimes I use my salvation to do whatever evil I want and I say “well I’m saved so I’m forgiven.”
  • Sometimes my lack of respect for leaders makes me look like a complainer rather than a person of love.

This statement hit hard.  I mean how am I to show “everyone” respect? What about people who don’t like me or better yet what about people I don’t like? What if I feel that my leader is an idiot? GOD thinks differently.

  • GOD says honor those in authority because I have to consciously remove my arrogance.
  • GOD says expose my evil and never let salvation be a freedom to blatantly keep sinning.
  • GOD says fear only HIM for HE is the only one who can destroy the soul.
  • GOD says love those who love HIM even when they are difficult to love.

I must realize that “every” human is GOD’s human and I must show them respect. Yes, I will sin but my efforts must be on holiness rather than giving up to get my way.

  • Are you blatantly living the way you want and are not pleasing to GOD?
  • Do you honestly believe the way you speak about “that” person is respectful to GOD?
  • Can you submit yourself to your leaders and change your mind set to think more highly of them than yourself?

  • Tuesday, December 4, 2012

    Mind if I slam you?

    1 Peter 1: Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,
    now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.


    “Where were you?” questioned the person running the meeting. “We had a situation we had to take care of” was my reply and it was somewhat true. The situation was we had to settle the check at our long lunch that caused us to be late. “Whew, that statement worked, situation avoided” or was it?

    Then it hit me… “Who were they to be critical of me?” Maybe I should tell everyone what they were doing last week.

    • When I am dishonest it blinds me to truly seeing what is right.
    • When I am deceitful I tend to cover myself by slandering “that” person.
    • When I am full of slander I begin to form a mild variety of hatred that I quickly dismiss by pointing out their flaws.
    • When I am caught in the act I quickly deny the situation or I put up my defenses saying “they made me do it” which shows my hypocrisy.

    The best person I know to protect is “me.” I mean if it means I have to stretch the truth a little to protect “me” then who cares? A tiny fib won’t hurt will it? And besides GOD forgives me anyway so I’m clear right? Wrong! GOD saw through the Pharisees’ attempt of holiness mixed with sin and condemned their practice. HE won’t spare me unless my focus changes.

    • GOD wants me to love those who are difficult to love.
    • GOD wants me to act with the truth and diminish my deceitfulness.
    • GOD wants me to admit my flaws instead of pretending they don’t exist like a hypocrite.
    • GOD wants me to want HIM instead of envying someone else’s power, position or praise.
    • GOD wants me to praise others instead of muttering bad things under my breath about them.

    Craving “spiritual milk” means growing up through understanding what GOD wants of me, not what I want from HIM. It means understanding HE desperately loves me and has a wonderful plan for me as well as “that” person. Taste that the LORD is good.

    • Are you hiding something?
    • Do you know it is better to admit whatever it is so you can heal faster?
    • Can you stop talking about “that” person and start talking about yourself?
    • Won’t you ask GOD “what do you want me to do” and wait on HIS answer?

    Monday, December 3, 2012

    Fake love

    1 Peter 1: 22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.


    Embarrassment was the feeling as I stepped into the meeting wearing a suit and all of the senior managers were dressed “business casual.” From that moment I observed my boss’s every move. I took off my tie when he took off his tie. I bought the same pen and notepad.

    Once we even showed up wearing very similar jackets. Yes, I had finally mimicked my boss so much that I began parroting his words. This should show my allegiance, I thought. Actually I didn’t like him, but I wanted to get ahead.

    • Acting like I am helpful doesn’t mean I am helpful.
    • Dressing like I am special, doesn’t make me special.
    • Getting involved because I am pressured to be involved leaves me bitter when I get overwhelmed.

    “Fake it until I make it” was the thought I had in that environment. I couldn’t “be myself” because they didn’t want “me” they wanted “that guy” over there. I faked my alliance with him in hopes that some of his success would rub off on me. One problem with faking it was I really didn’t want to serve him. I mean if a bus hit him I would have worried for a second but possibly thrown a party after my remorse.

    • GOD says to me “do not take salvation lightly.”
    • GOD says to me “treat EVERYONE with the same love I have shown you.”
    • GOD says to me “show grace and mercy on them and I will show grace and mercy on you.”

    Loving people without true compassion for them is actually impossible in my mind. I mean I won’t seek their needs and I will develop programs that make “me” look or feel good about myself. I wind up doing the right things but quickly see more and more people fall away from me. GOD wants me to love “from the heart.” This includes SPIRITUAL love that only comes from GOD.

    • Are you showing “fake love?”
    • Are you struggling because your love is only filled with obedience?
    • Do you find yourself becoming burnt out?
    • Won’t you stop volunteering because you feel it’s the right thing to do and volunteer because you actually want to show love?