Counting The Cost

Count the cost

In Luke 14:28 we are told that before we set out on a journey it’s always a good idea to, “count the cost”. However, at some point we should move beyond “counting the cost” and start allowing the relationship to driven by love, trust, and respect.

If in marriage of 20 years either the husband or the wife are still counting the cost and asking themselves questions like, “am I still willing to be in this marriage?” Or, “am I willing to no longer be with someone else?” Or, “am I ready to start trusting my spouse?” There’s a problem! Love and trust don’t ask these questions, inexperience does.

If you’re still at the place where you’re counting the cost, it’s time for a love and faith adjustment. We need to let go of trying to see what we can get out of this relationship with Christ and start truly giving back to him. Healthy relationships trust. Do you trust God? Healthy relationships respect. Do you respect God?

Stop counting the cost and start enjoying the relationship.

Obedience in Relationships

Relationship

I believe one of the biggest problems the unchurched have with religion is all of its rules. And let’s face it, if us Christians are being honest with ourselves, we know what they’re talking about. In my morning men’s group a friend of mine said something that really resonated with me. He stated, “Irrational changes only lead to regret”. That is so true. I’ve seen countless people come to Christ, make changes or give things up because someone else is telling them to, and then, because of the pressure to follow the rules, they end up falling away from Christ. Which leads us to this question…

Is it reasonable for God to have expectations?

In every healthy relationship changes are always necessary. These necessary changes are not, “The Rules of Relationship” but rather, the willingness to love the other person in they way they need to be loved. The same goes for our relationship with Christ. But again, is it reasonable for God to have expectations? Yes, because all love relationships do, and if we love him, we will be willing to grow into change with him. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.” Maybe it’s that we don’t like the word “commands”. Before getting to hung up on the word “commands”, ask yourself these questions; “what are the commands, why are they made, and are they reasonable”? When Jesus was approached by a young lawyer and asked “what is the great commandment?”, Jesus simply replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” To me, that sounds like something every good parent would require of their children. The reason it’s called a command is that it’s not optional, ever! Some say though that they want nothing to do with God because he’s an irrational tyrant. If we really look at the Bible and the requests God makes in it, his commands and punishments are really not any different than most parents. In all good parenting situations the punishment typically fits the crime. If you were to come home and find that your children had not only neglected their chores and homework, but also had gotten into a huge fight and during the scuffle broke several valuable items around the house, would you be considered an irrational tyrant for being upset and giving your children strong discipline? Of course not! When you’re in a loving relationship there’s not one scenario when love doesn’t have expectations, and when those expectations are not met, adjustments and correction are needed, and in extreme cases, demanded.

How To be a Good Christian

I will admit though, being a good Christian is easier said than done. As odd as this may sound, it’s due to the fact that God doesn’t punish us in the moment for our wrong doings. As it turns out, he typically allows the consequences of our poor choice to deal out their own blows. If we lie and get caught, people no longer trust us. If we get angry and hurt someone, we go to jail. Life punishes us when we misbehave, not God. At some point though, we just decide to stop being selfish, buckle down, and do the right thing, because that’s what the relationship is asking for. There’s an old ancient Chinese proverb that says this, “The journey of a 1,000 miles begins with the first step” and that’s what many of us need to do, just be willing to take that first step towards a healthy relationship with God. Not based off of fear, but love. Jesus said in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

Letting Go of Fear

The best part of letting go of fear and living in love, is that new ministry always becomes available to the willing and obedient. Not because obedience makes God happy, but rather the desire to be close to him will produce changes in you that will inevitably make you more healthy, and that makes God happy. There are so many people trapped in fear who don’t know how to be set free. God is needing those who understand the freedom of love to help set those captive free. Will you be one of those or will you continue to allow fear to control and dominate your life? “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:8.

The One About Forgiveness

Forgiveness

The Power of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful things known to man. Imagine if God didn’t completely forgive us, but instead made us constantly pay for our wrong doings. We would live life in a perpetual state of dread and despair. Or, imagine if God were like us, forgiving only the minor offenses but keeping record of the bigger ones. How different our lives would be. Forgiveness is so powerful that in some cases it can actually bring physical healing to a sick body. Remember the Bible story of the lame man let down trough the hole in the roof? Jesus looked at him and said, “your sins are forgiven, take up your bed and walk.” He didn’t address the physical problem, but instead addressed the spiritual need, and by doing so his physical body was healed.

Forgiveness can Expose

The need for forgiveness is so deep within many of us that it will cause some to spend their entire lives in pursuit of it. Remember the story of Mary the prostitute? The moment she came in contact with Jesus she poured on him her greatest possession, the one she had spent her lifetime saving. She then further showered her love on him by cleaning his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. Her actions not only brought healing to herself but also caused the bitterness in both Peter’s heart, and the others in the room, to be exposed. They were so upset at what she was doing that they tried to bring even more shame on her by saying, “master, if you only knew what type of woman were touching you!” To which Jesus replied, “Do you see this woman? When I came into your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss of greeting, but she has been kissing my feet since I came in. You did not put oil on my head, but she poured perfume on my feet. I tell you that her many sins are forgiven, so she showed great love. But the person who is forgiven only a little will love only a little.” Wow, their selfish righteous attitudes were not only exposed, but shown that they too needed forgiveness. I’m so thankful that this is the God we serve, one of forgiveness of all sin. Maybe it’s time you receive some of your own.

I want to leave you with one of my favorite scriptures.
“He has remembered his promises for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations.” Psalm 105:8

Continue reading

About “The Truth”

The Bible tells us pretty plainly, “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” John 8:32. However, it’s been my experience that, “sharing the truth” is not always so cut and dry. The Bible says about itself, “The letter kills but the spirit gives life” 2 Corinthians 3:6. So in other words, be careful how you use the truth because sometimes, it can do more damage than good. Not that the truth should ever be denied, but that when it’s given it’s only out of love, and meant to heal. Yesterday, I had a young man as ask if he should tell his catholic grandma that the pope isn’t really the mouth of God. I asked him, is your grandma asking you questions about God, or saying that she feels like she’s missing something? He said no, so I said then you’ll only be picking a fight if you say such things. The Bible also reminds us to “be as wise as a serpent but as harmless as a dove”, Matthew 10:16. It’s impossible to be harmless when your tearing people apart with the truth. If there’s ever a question in your mind as to when and how you should share the truth, remember this, the truth will always display the fruits of the spirit; love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The Truth

Man’s Work VS. God’s Work


Mans Work

The best way to define “mans work” is when he gets it into his heart to set his own course for what he feels is right. He then starts setting up justifications for that course so as not to feel like he’s wrong in his ways. He also will frequently boast, if only to himself, of his Godly exploits, so as to convince himself that God too approves of his labors. He will shirk the responsibilities of true Godly work, as they require consecration, and he doesn’t much care for that notion. Where this becomes most treacherous though, is that he is thoroughly convinced he is completely in the will of God. So much so that he will even become disagreeable and angry with anyone who points out the flaws in his charter. For this man, his journey will be wrought with pain, and at times, even torment, because in the deepest parts of this man lies rebellion, and rebellion stands exactly opposite of the nature of God.

Gods Work

Godly work however is often path of loneliness. Most times, friends are scarcely found when this work is being done. Many a man wants little to do with the fires of that forge because the heat alone reminds them of there own need of a savior. This is where the justifications of, “needing to be like the world to win the world” is shed and the need to be made whole in the ways of Godliness enter him. The fear that’s brought on by the rejection of peers melts away as this man begins to care more for what God measures him by than what popular opinion would. The justifying phrase, “I’m not perfect and it’s ridiculous to ever think that I could be” is no longer used, because the meaning of true perfection is understood. Perfection being that which is made whole in God’s love, and then shared with compassion and mercy to all who God would bring you in contact with. This work is not for the faint of heart, but rather for the heart that has been made strong by deep desire. Desire to please God, to be close to him no matter the cost, and to be obedient in all things.

This mans path will also be difficult, but not for the same reason as the man who does his own work. The Godly man, like a trained soldier, will endure the hardships of trails arranged by God. Tests of patience, courage, and peace will lay in wait around many bends in his road. Not to punish or to beat him into submission as many men say of God, but rather to teach him the ways of humanity, and to shape his heart into that of love. This work can only be claimed by the man himself. No other man, nor even God himself, can set him on this path. It must be chosen freely, and the cost counted and willing to be paid in full. This path, the path of Godly work, it is the only path that will ever lead to peace.

The Fallen Soldier

God, in hopes to win back the heart of his fallen servant, will always send a faithful servant to give a warning and a promise. Many of those who have become slothful in heart have also become unwilling to take the message of repentance serious, thereby revealing a lack of their good character. In their hearts they have decided that the temporal things are more important than the blessings that God has in store for them. This is easy for many to do, as the unseen requires faith to obtain while the seen gives us instant gratification with little to no work. This is where Godly character is on trial because the slothful man is deciding between continuing on with man’s work, or picking up the responsibility of Gods work.

The Warning


If a man continues to ignore Gods offers, eventually, God will withdraw the offer and present it at a later time. But only after the man has been set on a path of hardships, teaching his character to be more God conscious. This path is full of thorns, thistles, and ditches. Many blessings that were received when he lived a Godly life will be robbed and stripped from him. Not because God is angry and no longer protects him, but because the end of, “that which seems right to a man” is always death.

“There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12

“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith, without doubting, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:5-8

Unity = Power

Unity

Unity = Power

The thing I love most about unity is what can be accomplished when it’s put into action. Unity can be used as a powerful tool by anyone, anywhere, and to accomplish anything.

The Old Testament people in the book of Genesis decided to combine their efforts to make a tower that could reach the sky. They did this so that they could worship in their own way, apart from God. Needless to say God wasn’t to happy about it, but what God says about them and their efforts is absolutely amazing. Here are his words; “If as one people speaking the same language, they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” So God says that with unity nothing will be impossible for us! Could you imagine what we could accomplish if we decided to stop making comparisons to others and decided to unify instead! Even in the cartoons they put their rings together, and as one yell “unite” in order to make their collective superpower activate. It’s time to unify!! To stop comparing Christian against Christian, belief against believe, church against church. If we can’t do this then how do we expect the rest of the world to unify? The Bible tells us that judgment begins at the house of God. Could it be that God is looking for unity in the church first, and then use that unity to bring healing to the rest of the world? LET’S FIND OUT TOGETHER!!

The Christian Who Fell

A Christian friend of mine recently posed this question to our men’s group, “Can professing Christians fall way, proving that they were never truly in Christ?” That is a HUGE question, but what I felt like he was really asking was this, “once we are saved are we always saved?” Or, the ultimate way of asking that same question is, “once we are saved can we no longer go to hell… ever?” Again, these are some huge things to ponder.

The writer of Hebrews said this, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.” So I would start answering his question with one of my own; “What is sin?” When confronted with the question, “what is the greatest commandment (or law to follow)?” Jesus has this to say; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. And… Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” So what I gather from the words of Jesus is this; sin is the selfishness inside of us all that stands opposite of both the love of Christ, and the love he asks us to have for one another. With that in mind, here’s my thought on the original question…

Because truly living is being fully present in the moment, if we spend even one of those moments worrying about heaven or hell, it’s a waisted moment. Jesus asked this question, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” So why spend our time worrying about heaven or hell? In my opinion the best question is this, “is my moment filled with love?” because if not, Christ is not ok with that moment. Another great question would be, “Am I justifying why love is not in this moment?” The act of selfishness or love can bring either heaven or hell into our current moment. I believe that once a person learns what love looks like but refuses to do it, God is displeased, no matter who they are, or how long they have been “saved”, because to deny love, is to deny Christ himself.

So I would say “YES!” professing Christians can fall away from Christ, because “God is love” and there is no scenario in which he will ever justify the absence of that love.

What Are We Left To Trust?

WHAT ARE WE LEFT TO PLACE OUR TRUST IN BUT GOD?

Should we put our trust in humans who are borne to other humans, who live and then die like all others them before them? Who lie and cheat to get by? Or, can we trust in the sun and moon, earth and water? We have no control over those, they do as they were made to do, day in and day out, year after year and decade after decade.

So what then, what do we have to put our trust in but God? Will he let us down or turn a deaf ear when we cry out to him? Will he leave when we come running? Sit and watch from a distance while we lay broken and crying? Maybe, he’s done it in the past when those before us came to him in arrogance, demanding he give to them what they thought they needed. So how then do we approach this God whom we so desperately need; this God that we are left to put our trust in?

What is it you think you need from him? What request do you bring to his feet? Who is this God to you? Is he the God of luck and fortune? The one you will finally make time for once things are approaching rock bottom? The God to whom you have ignored every one of his cries? The God who is ever speaking, calling, and reaching out? “How?” you say, “how is he ever speaking, calling, and reaching out to me?” Isn’t nature itself evidence enough for you? Do you not see the sunset and sun rises?! Do you not hear the song of the birds?! Do you not feel the rumble of the thunder? Are you deaf, and blind? What if there were no more sound but that of the other humans and the things they have created? What if the sun burned out and there were no more light? What if the dew and rain dried up and the trees withered away? What if God took away all of his handy work from you and I? Is not the gift of these things love in and of themselves? Did you earn the sun to rise or the rain to fall? Did you call for the birds to sing their songs? No! This was given to us by his great love! You did not earn it!

We sit in our arrogance say, “WHERE IS GOD! I need him and he is nowhere to be found!” Yet the sky still gives you it’s beautiful colors morning and evening, and the trees and plants yield to you their oxygen.

“Where is God!?” He is where you left him. He is at home, in his place of order. He is doing what he does best, loving all of us together, yet one at a time. He is there, calling out to you, reaching, and hoping. Hoping that you will get up from your place of self indulgence, isolation, and self pity. Why, oh why I wonder do we hurt so deeply, and cry so many tears when there is a God! And not just a God, but a God of love.

To some, love is just a word that negates the requirement of work for what God has already freely given to all of us, even the murders and pedophiles. That free gift is salvation from all that would destroy us. Many of us though, some Christians as well, refuse to take it. We are too busy trying to make our own way in this life, and where has that gotten us?… angry, and full of fear!

We lash out at those who don’t vote for the other human who will also die one day like all the rest of us. We lash out at those who believe in things that don’t line up with our beliefs, and somehow, we believe God approves… HE DOESN’T!

We are consumed by fear as we watch nature unfold around us and capture the entire world in its grip. This very nature that Jesus commanded “be still” and then turned to His disciples and asked, “why didn’t you speak to it?!” I want to know one thing, WHERE ARE YOU AND WHY ARE YOU SLEEPING!? Can we trust God, YES! What else is there to trust! Will He answer? YES! He is only waiting for you to start asking the right questions. Wake up you arrogant Christians! Wake up you fool who claims there is no God! Wake up those who claim there is a God but He doesn’t care about the fate of the world! Rise like a new day! Walk in the power of His love, and live like you never have before.

When Love Sets You Free

8F173430-38FC-4480-A682-2AA03D8D9B67Why Did God Make It So Difficult 

I’ve often asked myself the question, “why is it so impossible to live a life free from sin!?” This question typically ends up leading to the statement, “I’m not perfect and I never will be”, and that way of thinking can easily turn into an excuse.

Like the guy who struggles with porn… When he’s been good for a long time and not looked at porn, a little voice speaks up and says, “You’ve been a good boy for a long time now, you deserve a little look, you’re not perfect anyway and we all make mistakes!” All of us have worn that excuse out. So claiming to not be perfect never works.

Being Perfect

I know it’s crazy but Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” I don’t think when he said the words “be perfect” he meant “without flaw”, that would be impossible. What I believe he means is, “to have a heart that above all else desires to please God, and to be filled with love”; love towards God and love towards each other. When I desire to deeply love porn is no longer a treat I deserve for being a good boy. God can help me see that girl as one of his created beings who is hurting inside. He can make my heart break for her rather then be filled with lust.

Free From Sin

I am slowly learning that trying to live “sin free“ will never happen, so I will ask God to help me to love deeper then I ever have before. Love will always cost me something, while running around trying not to sin doesn’t cost me anything.

Love buys my coworker lunch, trying not to sin doesn’t. Love leads to deeper friendships, trying not to sin doesn’t. Love leads to my being a better husband and father, trying not to sin doesn’t. Love leads to food in the mouths of the hungry, trying not to sin doesn’t. Love leads to the woman caught up in the sex slave trade finally having a husband who loves and respects her, and trying not to sin doesn’t. Trying to live free from sin is the cheep, easy, and empty way to stay pure, while love is the deep and rich way. Love sets the captive free, and if I decide to apply it to my life, it will set me free as well.

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1Peter 4:8

Respecting Our Leaders

Pray for Your Leaders! 

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for KINGS AND ALL WHO ARE IN AUTHORITY so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Remember this when it comes to our presidents! Whether you like them or not, God has made it a requirement for us to both pray, and to respect them.

Anger Turns to Bitterness 

     We have become an angry and bitter generation who despises those leaders who do not hold the same values and beliefs we do. We justify our hatred and disrespect by convincing ourselves that the leader doesn’t have our best interests in mind. Christians have been guilty of this as well as non Christians. I’m uncertain as to when we began to believe that God no longer minds if we speak ill of our leaders. King David was careful to never lift a hand against Saul, nor speak evil of “the Lord’s anointed”, even when Saul’s heart was set on killing David. Above all men, David would have had the right to hate Saul, because David was truly innocent of the guilt that Saul was accusing him of. Yet David refused to sin against God by lifting his hand to harm Saul or by slandering him. Because of this, David continued to gain favor with God.

 Bringing Back Respect

     It’s time we repent of our disrespect that has turned our hearts bitter. We need to seek God’s face for our leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, no matter who our president may be. God doesn’t give us the right to slander. He commands us to pray! This applies not only to our world leaders, but also to our bosses, the local law enforcement, and of course our pastors. We should also be instilling these same values and principles into our children. When there is a conflict with authority in our child’s life, we often times we side with our child over the authority that is pointing out the wrong in their life. As if somehow our child is more adapt at understanding the difference between right and wrong than an adult who has years of experience.  This is devastating the respect that our children have for authority! Remember this, if you want your child to keep a job, stay out of jail, and maybe one day be in a ministry, teach them to respect authority. This respect starts with you!