The legacy I want to leave

Up until a year ago, life was all about me.

Sure, I was a Christian who loved God and people, but something was missing. My wife and I even spent four years in a ministry, but something was still sorely lacking in our lives. There had to be more to this Christian walk than just living like everyone else. Where was the joy? Where was the peace?

How was I any different than unbelievers? I would get mad when something didn’t go my way. I was easily frustrated. I let the opinions of other people shape my identity. I blamed God for the bad things that were happening in my life. I prayed and read my Bible, but they became acts of routine and not fellowship.

Then we started watching messages from Todd White and Dan Mohler. If you have never heard of these guys, I encourage you to look them up on YouTube. Wow. Up until that point, I had never heard truth preached as clear and sound. The scriptures came alive, and I felt a quickening in my Spirit that had long been reduced to nothing more than a pile of darkened embers.

I finally started to realize who I was in Christ, and everything changed.

Jesus makes it very clear what it takes to follow Him. We have to die to self. We have to give up something that we were never created for in the first place. We were never created for us. We were created for God.

I am going to be perfectly honest with you. I’m still growing into that revelation of truly dying to self. I have made huge progress though. Fortunately, it’s not something we have to try and accomplish on our own, because that would be impossible. We can’t wake up in the morning and “try” to be a good Christian. It begins with a more intimate relationship with our Father. It’s a daily process.

When we die to self, there is nothing else to do but become more like God. Ephesians says we are to be imitators of God. What is God? He is love. Our objective on this earth is to become love. Well, what does love look like? It looks like Jesus. Jesus was the visible image of an invisible God. He was love personified. He modeled the Christian life that we need to live out.

Last week, I gave you an example of Jesus acting like us instead of love. You can check it out HERE. Oh, how life would be so different now.

I want to walk this earth just as Jesus did. Loving everyone. Healing the sick. Praying for the blind. Raising the dead. He is living inside of me, so there is no reason not to do those things. It’s all about faith. Just because I might not see things happen when I pray, that doesn’t change the truth of His words. We’re not here to live by feelings. We’re here to live by faith. The Bible says living by feelings is demonic, so why would we want any part of that?

I want to love my wife with God’s love. Not saying “I love you” in order to hear it back. Not praying that God will change things in her for my benefit. If we ever pray that God will change someone just because we have an issue with them or because it would make our lives better, it becomes all about self, and that’s a dangerous place to be in. (I’m not saying I have an issue with my wife. I just want to keep growing in God’s perfect love.)

I want to model Christianity for my kids. If we go to church on Sunday morning, but get angry, frustrated, and pottered by life every other day of the week, then we’re just teaching our kids that being a Christian means going to church. I want them to see the love of God in how I discipline them, father them, and love them. I don’t want to punish out of frustration, because then it’s all about me. If I punish them, it needs to be done in a way that continues to show them their true identity in Christ. I want them to fully understand their created value from God.

I want to stop passing silently by people on the streets and in stores who may never have heard about God and how much He loves them. Who knows that the next person I walk by, without saying a word to, might be contemplating suicide? They may need the hope that I carry inside of me. They may just need someone to love them without expecting anything in return.

I’m done with living for myself and following the way of man’s wisdom. The way that seems right to a man leads to destruction. God’s wisdom leads to life.

What is the legacy I want to leave behind?

It’s simple. Jesus.

New recordings

It’s been several years since my wife has done any singing. We used to record songs at home, make CD’s, and send them to anyone who wanted one. (Once we get enough new tracks recorded, we will start doing that again) We gladly accepted any donations, but that wasn’t necessary at all.

Last week, we dusted off the mic and her vocal chords and started recording again. We have two new tracks uploaded as well as some older stuff. My wife loves to sing, and this has been a way for her to share her talent with others.

I know I’m somewhat biased, but when she sings, it’s like buckets of the Holy Spirit being poured out everywhere.

I hope you enjoy the following tracks. Who knows, maybe we’ll get her to audition for The Voice next year.

NEW Keep Making Me 

NEW Jesus Loves Me (Acapella) 

Speak For Me 

Via Dolorosa 

Mary Did You Know 

The event that changed history forever

The night was silent. A shroud draped the garden like the weight of a heavy blanket. Slivers of moonlight peered through the trees and washed over the man kneeling. The heart inside His chest thumped like a drum, overcome with wrenching emotion. Drops of blood slowly trickled down His face as He looked up to pray.

“Father, there must be another way. I just can’t believe after everything I’ve done, this is how it’s all going to end. I haven’t done anything wrong. Please. Provide a different way.”

He stood to His feet and returned to the men He considered His closest friends and brothers. They had promised to stay awake and pray with their Teacher. They were all sleeping.

Jesus shook His head. “I should have known. Why are you guys sleeping? The time has come. Let’s go.”

They started to leave when suddenly the darkened night was flooded with the glow of flickering torches. A group of men approached Jesus and His disciples. He noticed Judas walking towards Him. There is the one who will betray me. I don’t know why I gave him the chance.

Judas walked up to Jesus and kissed Him on the cheek. “Greetings, Rabbi.”

“I can’t believe you’re doing this, Judas. After everything I’ve done for you, how could you betray me? And with a holy kiss? Unbelievable.”

As the soldiers reached out to arrest Jesus, Peter drew his sword and attacked. He swung blindly and struck one of the servants, cutting off his ear. The man cried out in agony and dropped to the ground. Jesus walked over and picked up the severed ear. “Your name is Malchus, right?”

The man nodded, his face clouded in pain.

“Why are you doing this? You know I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m an innocent man, and here you are to arrest me and shackle me in chains. Don’t you see how unfair this is? I could easily heal your ear, but you know what? I believe you need to think about what you’ve done. Let me know when you decide to change your ways, and we’ll talk about the ear.”

Jesus dropped the ear to the ground and raised His hands in surrender. The men began to punch Him in the face and stomach. They spit on Him as they placed Him in heavy chains. They brought Him before the Sanhedrin where He would be questioned.

One of the men looked at Jesus and sneered. “Tell us if you are indeed the Christ, the Son of God.”

Jesus nodded. “Of course I am. You know all the things I’ve done. How else could I have performed miracles, healed people, and raised anyone from the dead?”

The man slowly retreated and began to tear his robes. “Blasphemy. We don’t need any other witnesses. He has spoken blasphemy with his own mouth. What do the rest of you think?”

“He deserves death,” they shouted.

“Whoa, whoa. Wait a minute,” Jesus said. “Are you kidding me? Death? Don’t you think that’s a little extreme?”

Without another word, they took Jesus to stand before Pilate for sentencing. He was beaten, bloody, and hardly recognizable.

Pilate stared at Him. “Are you King of the Jews?”

“Yes,” Jesus answered. “This isn’t exactly how royalty should be treated, is it?”

“Do you hear all the things they are saying about you? Don’t you have anything to say for yourself?”

“I have done nothing wrong. I’m innocent and this is completely unfair. No one will listen, though. I’ve tried to tell them.”

Pilate stood before the crowd. “What shall I do with Jesus, Who is called the Christ?”

In unison, the crowd erupted into shouts of “Crucify him! Crucify him! Give us Barabbas!”

Jesus shook His head and cried out to the crowd. “Are you serious? You want Barabbas? He’s a murderer. I haven’t done anything wrong.”

“Crucify him! Crucify him! Crucify him!”

Pilate allowed the soldiers to beat Jesus with a whip constructed of bone fragments, glass, and pieces of rock. They tore away His flesh  with every strike. There wasn’t much left of a man once they had finished. They dragged Him from the courtyard and threw Him to the ground. Two soldiers walked over with a cross and forced Jesus to stand to His feet and begin to carry it.

With every labored step, Jesus was hit with sticks, punched in the face, and cursed. They started up Via Dolorosa, and Jesus reached His breaking point.

“That’s it. I’m done,” He said as the cross fell to the dusty ground. He looked up towards Heaven. “Father, I know this is what You want me to do, but I just can’t. These people don’t deserve anything but death. I am completely innocent, yet they are treating me like a common criminal. I mean, come on. They wanted to free Barabbas. Barabbas, the murderer. It’s ridiculous and not fair at all. All I ever did was help them. Don’t they realize who I am? I chose to lower myself to their human level, become a man, and walk in love. Look what it got me. They don’t appreciate anything I’ve done.”

The soldiers stared in disbelief. They looked at each other, unsure how to proceed.

Jesus walked down the path away from everyone else and raised His hands. “Okay, Father. Take me back up. I’m done. These people have hurt and abused me more than anyone should ever have to endure. I know what they are going to do. They are going to laugh in my face as they hammer rusty nails through my hands and feet. Do you really think there is any hope at all for these people? They don’t care about You, me, or righteousness. Let them figure it out on their own. I want nothing more to do with it. I don’t care if my blood, my sacrifice, would reconcile them back to You. They don’t deserve it. Let them see what Hell is all about.”


My eyes filled with tears as I finished writing this alternate version of what could have happened. Just think about where we would be right now had Jesus acted like us instead of love during those dark hours. He had every right to behave exactly how you just read. He was completely innocent, yet He knew what it meant to die on that tree. He could have easily ended up on some talk show as a victim. We are reconciled back to the Father because of love.

Jesus said to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him. If we couldn’t walk through that same situation just as He did, what are we doing? Are we living for Him or only for ourselves?

We get so wrecked when people treat us wrong, lie to us, betray us, and try to hurt us. It’s time to give up all the rights we think we have and become love.

If we don’t see words or actions in the life of Jesus, they shouldn’t be in ours either.

Are we living in fear or by faith?

Webster’s Dictionary defines fear as this:

to be afraid of (something or someone)

to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant)

to be afraid and worried

Webster’s Dictionary defines faith as this:

strong belief or trust in someone or something

belief in the existence of God : strong religious feelings or beliefs

a system of religious beliefs

There is a glaring difference in the meaning of those words.

I read somewhere that the word fear is mentioned 365 times in the Bible. As if God was telling us each day not to fear. Whether or not that is just coincidence, I still think it’s pretty cool.

There is no grey area here. We are either living in complete fear, or by total faith. It can’t be both.

We can tell exactly where we are by how we respond to certain situations. We all go through stuff. We face trials, pain, and loss. I heard a sermon a couple of weeks ago during which the pastor said God allows us to go through all those things to teach us lessons. That is a very warped and inaccurate view of our Father. The enemy wants to tear us down and leave us wondering whether God loves us or not. He uses life to control us. We get the call that a loved one was just diagnosed with cancer. We immediately fall apart and start calling on God to do something. That’s fear, not faith.

Faith is hanging up from that call and thanking God that he has given us power over sickness and death. It’s visiting that loved one in the hospital and sharing Jesus with everyone there. Nurses, doctors, technicians. We hear the word cancer, and we gasp. Why? Because that word instills fear in our hearts.

We have the very same power inside of us that raised Christ from the grave of death. That same power can defeat cancer. We have to walk in faith.

If you’re going through anything that relates to death, loss, or destruction, then it’s coming straight from the pit of Hell. The enemy is here to kill, steal, and destroy. Not God.

Fear is turning to God when things have gone wrong. Faith is knowing He’s already there.

We are all at different stages in our walks with Christ. Some are just beginning, while others are more experienced. Our relationship with God is constantly growing. It’s not just saying a prayer and we’re good to go. In a marriage, you don’t just say “I do” and then wait for the relationship to mature. It takes effort.

Philippians 2:12-13 says (emphasis mine):

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

The word fear in this passage isn’t the Webster’s definition I mentioned earlier. The Greek word translated “fear” in this context can equally mean “reverence” or “respect”. We are all working through our salvation. It’s a process.

The reason Jesus was able to endure His time on this earth as a man was because of love. He was love personified. He walked out Christianity and gave us something to follow. He had no fear. Why? Because He was perfect love.

1 John 4:18 says:

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

If we are walking in perfect love, then we won’t live in fear. Our goal on this earth is to become love. God is love. We are to be imitators of God. (Ephesians 5:1)

If we worry, fret, and live in constant fear, we aren’t walking in love. 

It really is that simple.

If you can’t love someone because they might not give it back, you’re living in fear. Faith says “I love you.” Period.

If you have to set boundaries around yourself because of people, then it’s all about self, and you’re living in fear. Faith is not distancing yourself from people, but loving them.

If you can’t approach someone in a crowded mall to let them know how much God loves them, you’re living in fear. Faith walks over and shares the hope of glory within us.

My goal is to completely surrender myself to perfect love and drop all fear to the curb. It’s the only way to truly follow Jesus. He said to deny ourselves.

Fear is all about self. Faith is all about surrender.

Passive Christianity

I want to get real with you today. No over-used cliches, catchy one-liners, or bumper sticker theology.

I had a blog post about faith and fear all lined up and ready to publish this morning. Then I watched a video yesterday from Todd White, and knew I needed to post something different. We’ll save the other one for next week.

I have so many things rattling around inside that I don’t even know where to start.

I’m tired of being a passive Christian. Let’s start with that. I believe Jesus paid a very high price to reconcile us back to the Father. What does that mean exactly? It means we can once again be in right standing with God. Back in the Garden as if we had never missed the mark. It means He didn’t pay that price so we can play church, sit around waiting to be swept into Heaven, or keep the amazing news of the Gospel all to ourselves.

My wife and I had a brief taste of what truly being a Christian is all about. I wrote about it HERE 

We were out there talking to people, praying for the sick, helping others. It was amazing. Then something happened. We allowed ourselves to get comfortable again, and all of that got placed on the back burner. We once again became passive. We started to get back to the old patterns of being concerned with just ourselves and our own little world. The flame that was ignited and began to burn brightly returned to being a dull ember.

And it sucks, to put it plainly. I tell my girls not to use that word, so let’s just keep it as our secret.

What are we doing? Are we so obsessed with our own lives, that we have forgotten why Jesus died? I don’t want to be standing in front of my King on THAT day and see someone I know in the other line that doesn’t lead through the pearly gates. Especially knowing I could have shared Jesus with them. We aren’t here to chase people down and beat them in the head with a Bible.

We’re here to plant seeds. We’re here to be a light. We’re here to love people.

All God is asking us to do is give up something that we were never created to be in the first place. Why is that so hard? He didn’t create us for us. He created us for Him. Satan has used our self, our flesh, to keep us from an intimate relationship with our Creator.

Jesus didn’t say deny satan and follow me. He said deny our self.

Last week, I heard a very well known pastor say God allows us to endure hardships in order to teach us lessons. That is simply not true. There was no mention of the enemy who roams around trying to devour us. No talk about how only good things come from above. Not even a tiny side note about our identity in Christ and how amazing God is as a father. It was all about God doing this or allowing that. Basically, God on trial.

If what the pastor said is true, why would we be given power and authority from God? Why would He say pray for the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons? We would be left wondering if God was trying to teach us something through the hardships. What would be the point in anything? “Well, I lost my job and my wife ran out on me. God must be trying to teach me something.”

NO. STOP IT. The enemy is trying to devour you and wants you to blame God.

Sadly, this mindset is being preached in most churches today. Well, at least the ones I’ve visited or watched online. And I believe it’s causing a lot of people to be passive.

Faith isn’t running to God when everything goes to hell. It’s a daily relationship with our Father. Even when we don’t “feel” it. We live by faith, not feelings.

If we don’t push all our chips to the center of the table and go all-in with God, we can’t possibly follow Jesus. Being a Christian isn’t about escaping this earth for a promised Heaven. It’s about waking up every single day and becoming love to everyone around us. We can’t say Jesus has our heart but hold back our life from Him.

If you are a Christian and you’ve got a problem with this person or that person, let me tell you something. It’s not them. It’s you. You’re the issue. I’m not saying they didn’t do some bad stuff to you, but their stuff shouldn’t have the power to potter and mold you.

If we become free from our self, then we are free from everyone else. Our war isn’t against people. Paul says to regard no one in the flesh any longer. We have to see people through the eyes of God.

I’m tired of being lukewarm and passive.

Who’s with me?

The frailty of life

Last Monday, I was informed that one of our co-workers passed during the night. He had been fighting pneumonia and other medical issues. He was in ICU, and the doctors decided to put him on a ventilator to regulate his breathing. His heart just couldn’t take it and finally gave out.

Rick was an amazing individual. One of his biggest victories was overcoming cancer. He was always positive. Always had a smile on his face. Always encouraging. He was willing to go the extra mile for anyone. He loved his family more than anything. He was always talking about his precious granddaughter. He would email us pictures and brag about how cute she was.

When something like this happens, we always say we will never take anything for granted ever again, but then we do. Life is too short to complain about politics, religion, or how loud your neighbors are. When someone close passes away, we are once again reunited with the frailty of life. Our existence. We are nothing more than a vapor that is here today and gone tomorrow.

Let’s walk in love towards everyone and make a difference in our sphere of influence.

Rick was a great guy and will be dearly missed. I wrote this in his memory.

Always Remember
For Rick Cook

You knew the world needed
Laughter in the hardest storms
You sent the perfect angel
With hugs that were always warm

A smile that lit the darkest night
A gentle presence when the road was hard
Willing to lend a helping hand
Always eager to do his part

He overcame so much down here
Hardened strength through all the pain
Nothing could keep him from rising up
He was a glorious rainbow after each and every rain

He loved his family most of all
They were the stars that shined so bright
He talked about them every day
They were the reason for his joy in life

So many people travel through our lives
Some, we just can’t forget
They live with burning passion
They give it all, leaving no room for regret

Some are with us forever
And others just for a little while
He faced life with constant cheer
Nothing could ever take away his smile

There will always be moments in our life
That are darkened by the pain of loss
We all have different roads to lead
Often times there’s a bridge to cross

He will be missed, but he will always live on
Now he’s resting in the arms above
God, keep him safe, and let him know
We will always remember his love

We can never forget

We all have a past.

Some of those memories are preserved in photo albums while others burst into our thoughts by hearing the melody of a song. If you are a believer, you were once living in utter darkness, unaware of how your actions affected the lives of everyone around you. You existed solely for self, oblivious to a world of lost and hurting people.

But something happened in the midst of our sin and death. Jesus, the spotless and innocent lamb, whispered to our hearts with love we had never before encountered. Even as we cursed His name, He called us His children. Even while we laughed at those calling themselves Christians, He never once turned His back.

We were created in the very image of God. Genesis 1:27 tells us:

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

I love how it’s repeated in that verse. It must be pretty important for us to know we were made like our Father. That’s how much He values us. He could have made the animals in His image, but no, He chose us. He wanted us to be His ambassadors. That very thought alone should drop us to our knees in worship and praise.

There is one thing we can never forget. God didn’t just make Christians in His image. He created everyone with that same design. Every single person on the face of this planet has purpose and value. And those were not determined by people. They were already decided at the moment of creation.

That brings me to the heart of my post today.

No matter what someone believes. No matter how someone chooses to live their life. No matter what things they have done, right or wrong. No matter what, we are here to love people. Period.

Christians get very demonstrative when it comes to voicing opinions about our leaders in government. Especially last week after what President Obama said at the prayer breakfast. I’m afraid we’re spending too much time “ranting” on social media instead of closing the door to our prayer closet and lifting them up to God.

Ranting. Isn’t that just another way to say complaining? Philippians 2 14-15 says:

Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world

If we, as Christians, are complaining just like everyone else, how will we shine as lights in the world?

Matthew 5:43-44 says:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you

I love Matthew 5. It has a lot of those “You have heard it said, but I say” examples. Jesus was introducing a whole new way of thinking. Kingdom thinking, which is so totally opposite of the mindset we were born with. We are raised to believe that if someone hurts us, we should hurt them back. If they ignore us, we ignore them. If someone doesn’t believe the same as us, then we don’t have anything to do with them.

We have no excuse to treat people with anything less than unconditional love. 

Jesus lived that way while on Earth, and He said to follow Him. He took those nails without complaining. He looked dead in the eyes of the soldiers gripping hammers and asked God to forgive them. He never once stopped loving them.

These people that we so quickly complain about or judge because of their actions…yeah, we were once just like them. Living in darkness with no hope in sight. With no idea of what we were actually doing.

“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” – Jesus

We can’t get saved and think Jesus only came for us. He came for the murderers, rapists, child molesters, and drug dealers. He came for President Obama. He came for that guy sitting on death row. He came for all the people we turn up our noses at.

Let’s stop complaining and judging others. We can never forget that we have an example to follow.

His name is Jesus.

Time of Need

I’ve been working hard on my second collection of first-person Bible stories entitled, I Believe. Starting Monday, I am probably going to post just one article per week until I get this project finished. I really want to buckle down and have this available for sale within the next couple of months. One very cool note is that I was able to get an amazing blogger/author/pastor to write the foreword for me. I’ll post more details later.

I wanted to give you another sample from this new collection.


Time of Need

Every day of my life is filled with pain, torment, and a quickly fading sense of hope.

Sometimes, I don’t even try. There are so many here who are desperate for healing. I see mothers, holding small children in their arms, pleading for someone, anyone, to help them. I watch as husbands fight with reckless abandon for just a chance to have their wives healed, but that chance never arrives, and their efforts are in vain. Countless numbers of blind people wander around, hoping, praying they will one day regain their sight. It’s so sad.

On my worst days, I wonder if there was something I did to inflict this condition upon myself. I am unable to walk. I’ve been crippled for almost forty years. What was so horrible that I might have done to deserve such punishment? I fall into a darkened pit of self-pity, looking for anyone to blame for my situation. Then I stop myself and look at the obvious.

If God was the cause of my affliction, why would He send an angel to stir the pool so the sick could be healed? When the waters are aggravated, the first one to step in is instantly cured of their illness. That doesn’t sound like an angry or hateful God to me. It sounds like a God who wants to take care of the people He created. It sounds like a God of love and compassion.

Over the years, I’ve watched as blind people stepped out of the churning waters and saw their loved ones for the first time. Some had children, and they were overcome with joy as if their son or daughter had just been born into the world. All they could do was stare in wonder and amazement. Then they would all cry and laugh together in celebration of a miracle.

I’ve witnessed lepers hesitantly step out of the pool as if they couldn’t believe what had happened. Having for so long been shunned and abandoned as the outcasts of society, I’ve watched them break down in tears as they experienced the warmth of a hug again. The touch of another human being. Smiles from those walking by instead of fearful and hesitant glances.

And then there have been others, like me, who were unable to walk. They were eased into the moving water by those anxious to see a miracle, but stepped out under their power. I know it’s wrong and selfish, but I always wish it were me instead. I’ve tried so many times to make it into the water. I get so close, but then someone steps in front of me and becomes healed right before my eyes. I’ve dealt with so much bitterness, but I’ve started to realize I may never walk again. Maybe I should just accept the situation, and quit fighting it.

Where would I go? I have no close family. I don’t have any friends. No one wants to hang around a person if they can’t walk. It only slows them down when they want to do something. I discovered early on that certain people don’t want anything to do with you if you have nothing to offer. It’s sad because most people don’t even take the time to get to know me. Outward appearances shouldn’t matter, but, unfortunately, they do. They see a cripple, someone with a serious need, and that becomes awkward. To engage in conversation might require more than just a casual hello.

To be continued…


How to know if your church is successful

I remember my first experience at a megachurch.

It was a Saturday night, and we arrived about thirty minutes before the service was scheduled to start. We waited patiently in line with hundreds of other people. Signs covered the walls, each with the title of a previous series. The familiar aroma of freshly brewed coffee hung in the air. Security guards stood by each entrance. Staff members, most barely out of their teens, walked around in skinny jeans and over-sized caps.

Our feet throbbed from the bass thundering inside the sanctuary. It was as if we were waiting in line for a concert. I wondered if it was the same feeling cattle experience when being herded into a fenced enclosure. I believed I even vocalized some mooing sounds while we waited. All in good humor, of course.

Christians are so talented at saying “The church is people, not the building”, yet we continue building bigger and better ones. I’m not anti-church. See my article from last week, Why you shouldn’t go to church.

Jesus wasn’t hip, trendy, fashionable, or good looking. Isaiah 53:2 says:

For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.

Yet, as the corporate body of Christ, we feel the need to be all of those things in order to reach people. We have catchy sermon titles named after popular culture. We play secular music before each sermon. We have trendy coffee shops in the lobby.

I’m not saying those things are wrong. I’m saying, let’s not sell out cheap when the Gospel is the most amazing thing ever. Jesus didn’t need any gimmicks to reach people. He loved them.

Society has several factors that determine how successful a church is.

Numbers in attendance. How much money is given to outreach. How big the worship team is. How many locations or campuses. How many books the pastor has published. The list can go on and on.

I’m here to tell you there is a different way to gauge how truly successful your church is. And it’s a very simple concept.

Strip away the smoke machines, the latest technology, the coffee shops, the trendy accessories and clothing, the dazzling websites showing how much money and time you spend in the community, the luxury cars, the fancy houses, the huge buildings, and the CD’s on iTunes.

Strip everything away until there is nothing left but Jesus.

Are you still happy with church?

Everything I mentioned in the previous paragraph will one day burn. None of it has any lasting value in the overall big picture.

If we need to do all of those things in order to get people through the doors, maybe we need to step back and look at what motivates us. Maybe, just maybe, we are spending too much time inside the building playing church and not enough time outside actually being the church. 

We say Jesus is all we need, but we don’t live that way. To what lengths are we willing to go in order to ultimately die to our self?

Go to church. Invite people to church. Pray that lives are changed. Preach the Gospel.

If everything around us is gone tomorrow, yet we are completely satisfied with Jesus alone, then we have a successful church.

Let’s talk about sin

Back in October, I wrote an article entitled, Is a sinless life possible? Needless to say, it stirred up quite the conversation. Especially when I said my simple answer to that question is yes, I believe it’s possible.

I’m not trying to convince you of anything. We are all the stewards of our own hearts. I’m not here to go 12 rounds debating this either. That is pointless and a waste of time. My blog is about things I believe and how I live my life. It’s okay if you think I’m wrong. I’ts okay if you want to call me a heretic or accuse me of blasphemy. None of that changes my beliefs or the fact that I love you.

When I read the Scriptures, especially when it comes to sin, I always do the if/why thing. Let me give you some examples.

If it’s impossible to live a sinless life, why would John say this in 1 John 2 (emphasis mine):

 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Notice he says IF we sin, not when we sin. There is a huge difference. The word “if” implies that it may not happen. When says it will.

When it comes to the topic of sin, so many people point to 1 John 1:8-10, which says:

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. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

John is talking about the born again experience. If anyone says he has no sin, he deceives himself. Why? Because we were born into sin. We need to confess our sins so God will forgive us. Not only does He forgive our sins, He cleanses us from all unrighteousness. This stuff is so powerful when read in the proper context.

If it’s impossible to live a sinless life, why would Paul say this in 2 Corinthians 5:17:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

When we are born again, the old is gone. Done. Settled. Wiped away. We are a brand new creation. That means all of our past is obliterated. Sin no longer has any control over us. One of Satan’s biggest lies is making us believe that just because we have the ability to sin, we are nothing more than sinners trying to make it through this world. We are not sinners. We are saints! Paul never addressed his letters to the “sinners” of the different churches, but to the “saints”.

If it’s impossible to live a sinless life, why would Paul say this in Romans 6:11:

Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We are dead to sin. People will point to Romans 7 and say that Paul was writing about what a wicked person he is. Why would he talk about how dead we are to sin in one chapter, and then go on to say he can’t get away from sin in the next? That doesn’t make any sense. Paul is painting a very clear picture of the difference between walking in the Spirit and walking in the flesh. When we become born again, the flesh no longer has power.

There is probably a lot more to be said on this topic, but I will end here for now. I will leave you with this paragraph from my previous post.

And if Jesus already forgave  ALL our sins, why do we think we have to grovel on our stomachs, weeping and wailing whenever we do stumble? If bad thoughts enter our mind out of nowhere, we immediately think it’s something inside of us, and we seek prayer, deliverance, or at least counseling. But, it’s coming from the outside, from the one who was already defeated. Yes, we repent and go in the other direction, but we don’t need to accept condemnation and guilt. It can be as simple as saying “Father, I know you didn’t create me to think like that. It isn’t me. I love You so much. Thank you for dying on that Cross for me. Thank you for making it possible to walk in righteousness. I thank you that I no longer live by my flesh, but by the power of Your Holy Spirit.”

And it’s not just thoughts that try to enter, it’s old desires and the sinful nature of our former self.

So, yes, I believe a sinless life is possible. I believe it’s possible to walk in complete righteousness with God. The Bible says too much about it for me not to believe that way.

Above everything else, we are to seek His righteousness.