Two to six and a new perspective


“The cancer has spread throughout more of your body than we had anticipated. You have two to six months to live.”

No one wants to hear those words spoken from the mouth of your doctor. In the natural, it’s devastating and completely overwhelming. It’s a slap in the face as you suddenly realize how frail life truly is.

There has been division in our family for years. On my wife’s side. No one denies that fact. Satan has used words, situations, and events to chip continually away at unity until nothing remains but pain and torment. He has been rather successful at it.

People always ask, why does it take someone in the family getting cancer to bring everyone together?

I see this entire situation in a completely different perspective.

First, here is one thing I don’t see. I don’t see God trying to teach anyone a lesson by punishing them with a disease. Good things come from above, not sickness, death, or pain.

I see this as the enemy attacking someone’s body with a disease that originates straight from the pit of Hell. The enemy is here to kill, steal, and destroy. If you are going through anything that involves death, loss, or destruction, it’s from satan.

I also stopped asking why the possibility of death brings people together and started to realize that anything the devil tries to do will ultimately fail.

The Cross, for example. Satan thought he had secured a wondrous victory, when, in fact, quite the opposite happened. He suffered his worst defeat when Jesus walked out of the tomb.

The same thing is happening in our current family situation.

Romans 8:28 says:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

The enemy has tried to rip us further apart with cancer, but the family is coming together. Once again, father of lies, you lose.

There is no doubt in my mind that the journey will be long. The walls built up over the years between everyone are stronger than reinforced steel.

Every meaningful embrace. Every soft kiss. Every kind word. Moments of shared tears. Those are the weapons we will use to defeat the enemy once again. Love will be the wrecking ball to division and strife.

And we have hope. Instead of going the chemo, medicine, and drugs route, my father-in-law is going all natural. There are countless stories of people diagnosed with stage 4 cancer who have survived. Juicing. Enzymes. B17. The plan of attack has already begun, and there is hope for many more years of life. Good quality of life.

The devil’s plan will fail. Regardless of what happens throughout this journey, we still win.

We will move forward in faith.

Faith that all things do indeed work together for good.

Faith that the Spirit inside of us has the power over sin and death.

Faith that relationships will be restored and better than they’ve ever been.

Faith that love never fails.

Faith that no matter what we see with our eyes, nothing changes the truth of who we are in Christ. Nothing changes God’s love for us. And nothing can ever defeat the hope we will hold onto with reckless abandon.

We won’t be shaken.

The enemy has already been defeated.

No matter what happens, we are living in a win-win situation.

 

There are two ways in which you can help.

The list of food items alone needed to attack this naturally is staggering. Juicing requires so many pounds of ingredients per week. Austin will also be taking pancreatic enzymes, B17 supplements, and an array of other natural remedies. Anything you can provide to help us on this journey is most certainly appreciated. Donate HERE

The other way is with your support and prayers. We have a Caring Bridge page set up where you can keep up to date on Austin’s progress and also leave words of encouragement. Click HERE

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.

Power and Love


Wow. What a life changing week.

My wife and I had the amazing opportunity to attend our first ever School of Power and Love. You can check out the site HERE. This one was held in Wilmington NC, about seven hours from where we live. There were several speakers, but the one we wanted to hear was Todd White. We have been watching Todd and also Dan Mohler on YouTube for quite some time now. They speak straight up truth right from the Bible. It’s awesome. Search for them. You won’t be disappointed.

Todd had four sessions, so we attended each of those. The purpose of these schools is to not only teach about love and spiritual gifts, but after every session, we go out into the community and walk it out. Christianity is a lifestyle, not just a prayer to get us into Heaven.

After the morning session on Thursday, my wife and I went out with a group of people, because it was our first time. It didn’t go as we expected, so there isn’t anything to tell from that one. Once the afternoon session was over, my wife and I decided to just go on our own and see what would happen. We chose to visit Walmart. We walked around for quite awhile, feeling timid and somewhat frightened. It’s hard to just walk up to a total stranger and talk to them about Jesus.

We spotted an employee walking around with a brace on her wrist that covered some of her hand. We dialed in and decided to stalk her around the store. She actually moved pretty quick, so we knew there was nothing wrong with her legs. We were still feeling hesitant until we saw a small group of people from the conference talking and praying with a man in a motorized cart. My wife was like, “Alright. Let’s do this.”

We chased the employee down, her name is Jonnie, and said we noticed she had a brace on her hand. We asked what had happened and why she was wearing it. We told Jonnie that God loved her so much, and then asked if we could pray for her wrist. She was so shocked, but very happy to let us pray. It was awesome. She was having a lot of pain from arthritis in her joints. We prayed healing over her and she hugged us both afterwards. She said there just aren’t any nice people around anymore. We believe in faith that Jonnie’s wrist was healed and she has no more pain.

We attended the morning session on Friday, and then went out on our own once again. We drove about fifteen minutes down to Carolina Beach. The idea was to not only walk for a bit, but minister to anyone we came across. It was an absolute ghost town. We walked for about an hour, then decided to visit the closest mall we could find. We walked around a while as we did in Walmart, then finally spotted a woman sitting alone on a bench. We discussed it for a bit, and then decided to go and talk to her.

My wife sat down beside the woman and just said hi, and that we felt God wanted us to talk to her. She smiled politely, but definitely didn’t look very enthusiastic. My wife then asked if we could pray for her, and that’s when she grabbed her purse and pulled it in tight to her body. She told us that she prayed for herself and she was fine. It was pretty funny. We just told her that God loved her, and we moved on.

I noticed a guy standing by a kiosk and knew instantly I was to talk to him. We walked in a circle around some other stands, and then I just walked up and shook his hand. I told him I felt compelled to approach and let him know how much God loved him. His name was Ray. Turns out, Ray is a Christian and his wife and two kids just moved to Wilmington from Charlotte. We talked for a bit, and then asked if he needed prayer. He asked us to pray that he would have more fire for God’s Word, and also for his job situation. We prayed, hugged it out, then went on our way. It was so cool.

We left the mall and headed down to the historic district in Wilmington. Down by the water front. We parked and walked over to where we could get a picture of the battle ship there. I noticed a homeless man and woman eating some pizza as we crossed the street. We were going to take a selfie, but the woman hurried over to us and asked if we wanted her to take the pic. After she took the picture, she asked if we had any spare change. I said we never carry cash or anything, but then I asked if there was anything going on in her life we could pray for. She was so surprised, but instantly smiled and her face lit up. She said her name was Teresa, and she and her husband have been battling some kind of compensation for one of his injuries. We prayed for her right there, and for the whole situation. She hugged us both, and thanked us.

We left downtown, and went in search of an Outback Steakhouse, so we could eat before the main meeting at the school. We got in and seated, already planning on blessing our server in some way or another. They are stuck with us for quite a while, so they would have no choice. Our server was Stacie, and she was very nice. When she came to refill my tea, I simply asked her how her day was going. She didn’t reply at first, and then suddenly she said, “Oh. You’re talking to me?” She told us later that no one ever asks that or even tries to engage in conversation.

She said on her way to work, her husband had called and said he was going to have to get a sonogram on his liver. His foot had been hurting, and when he went to the doctor, it went way differently than anticipated. They said he may have even had a very slight heart attack. They are in their 40’s. She was shaken up by the news and wasn’t doing too well trying to work. She stopped, and then said “I bet you wished you hadn’t asked, huh?” And she laughed. I shook my head (my wife was already crying, and I was tearing up) and said, “No. Quite the opposite. Is it okay if we pray with you?”

She hesitated a couple of seconds, then her bottom lip began to quiver as she started to cry. She said of course, so right there in the booth, we prayed for her. Just that peace would invade their lives and things like that. Prayed blessings over her and her husband. It was awesome. We were all crying. She was blown away that we would care that much to take the time to pray with her. We knew God wasn’t done. He told us to bless her abundantly with the tip. My wife handed Stacie the bill after we had filled in the tip, and told her that God wanted her to know how much He loves her.

We walked outside to our car, and she came running out after us when she realized how much we left for her. She said she felt bad because she told us all that, and we left such a huge tip out of pity. We told her it wasn’t pity, but it was because of God’s amazing love for her. We repeated that God loves her and her husband so much. She hugged us both again, crying, and returned to work.

It was such an amazing week. We have come away from this with a completely changed view on everyone around us. There are hurting, dying people everywhere in search of hope. If we aren’t willing to get over ourselves and walk out the Gospel, who will? This is lifestyle Christianity. You don’t have to wait for God to direct you to someone. Start with the person in front of you.

It’s time to get into the game, Church. Let’s just say “Yes”, and run the race.

Am I Worthy?


From I Was There

The shame haunts me on a daily basis.

I’ve tried to be a good person, but I always end up failing. It’s not easy. It never has been. I am a woman with needs. I thought once I was married, everything would be perfect. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that is not the case at all. There are times when I still feel alone, unwanted, and not very important. In his eyes, I’m just an object, or more like a slave. He thinks my sole purpose for existing on this earth is to serve him. If I don’t make him happy, he threatens to leave me. How can I continue to live like this?

My mother told me, on numerous occasions, that divorce is a sin. A sin that God will punish severely. I’ve always had a difficult time understanding that. My husband doesn’t beat me, but abuse takes on many different forms. Is it still a sin to leave him? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. I’m afraid of what might happen if I leave. I don’t want to disappoint my mother, but most importantly, I don’t want to sin against God. I’m lost and confused and don’t know what to do anymore.

I don’t have anyone I can really talk to. My friends are busy with their own lives, and their own set of problems. I tried to pray, but I just don’t know what to say. How do I even know anyone is up there listening to me? There has been so much talk about God and His Son, Jesus, but I have yet to see anything worth believing in. I’ve heard the stories of miracles being performed, but nothing has ever happened to me personally. I just need something to believe in. Something I can use as my anchor in this world so full of uncertainty and confusion.

I make no excuses for what I’ve done. Yes, my marriage is failing, and I am nothing more than a lost soul searching for help, but I have to face the consequences of my actions. I don’t know what the penalty is, but somehow I will endure it. My mother hasn’t spoken to me in three days. I didn’t think she knew about what happened, but her actions indicate otherwise. I know they will be coming soon to determine my punishment. I just have to be strong.

I hear commotion outside, and I open the front door. Several men, with their long beards and flowing robes, stand there in heated argument. They stop talking as I walk forward. I see my mother standing off to the side, watching intently. My husband is working and will not be around to witness what is happening. The other man is there with the group, looking at me with eyes full of contempt. I don’t understand that. He told me that he loved me.

I stand there, with hands stretched out in a gesture of surrender.

One man walks over to me. “Do you know what sin you have committed?”

I nod and drop my head in shame. “Yes, adultery.”

“Do you know what the penalty is for such a sin?”

“No.”

“According to the Law of Moses, you are to be stoned to death.”

My heart begins to beat faster, and I swallow the lump of fear that has formed in the back of my throat. These were the teachers of the law. It wasn’t possible they were wrong in their knowledge of sin, or its consequences. They had studied the ancient Scriptures more than anyone.

He turns to address the small crowd that has gathered, but before he can speak, one of the older men walks over. “Why don’t we take her to the Teacher? The one they call Jesus. Let’s see what he has to say about this woman. If He doesn’t do what is required, we will have reason to suspect His true intentions.”

They all agree. They push me forward toward the temple, and the crowd follows. I feel the eyes of every person staring into my back. I am so ashamed. Not only have I brought disgrace to myself, but I have embarrassed my family as well. I am terrified. I didn’t know the penalty for adultery was death. I have seen people being stoned before, and it’s not a pleasant way to die. Tears stream down my face as we enter the temple courtyard, and I see a large group of people.

They are all standing around listening as someone speaks. As we approach, the crowd turns, and starts to move back, giving us a path. We reach the front of the crowd where the one they call Jesus is sitting. He stops talking and looks at us.

For several moments, there is complete silence. I am trembling as I stand there awaiting my judgment. I keep my head lowered, facing the ground so he doesn’t see the shame reflecting in my eyes. I begin to hear whispers from the crowd, and my face burns with embarrassment. I try to stop my tears, but it’s futile. The stories of this Jesus have been spreading like wildfire. According to some, He can cast out demons and heal the sick. What will He do to me now?

Two men walk up from behind and force me to my knees. “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. According to the Law of Moses, we are to stone such a woman. Now what do you say?”

I glance up through my tears. Jesus looks at the men for a couple of seconds, and then kneels to the ground. With His finger, He begins to write in the dirt. He says nothing. A murmur trickles through the crowd as He continues to write and ignore the question. I notice that all of the men who came to my house are now holding large rocks.

“Teacher?” the man repeats. “Surely we are to obey the Law of Moses and stone this woman. She has sinned against God. What do you say?”

Jesus writes several more things, and then He stands up. “Let any one of you, who is without sin, throw the first stone.”

The men roughly push me from my knees to a prone position on the ground. I close my eyes and cover my head with both hands. The intense pain of rocks slamming into my body will begin at any moment. It’s often hard to recognize a person after they have been stoned. I wasn’t sure if my mother was still around, but I hoped she wouldn’t remain to watch me die. I am terrified, but I know there must be a consequence of my failure to keep the law. I am a sinner.

I hear the sound of a rock hitting the ground. At first, I assume someone has thrown a stone, and missed. I hear the sound again, and I open my eyes. In utter disbelief, I watch as one by one, the men open their fists and allow the rocks to fall harmlessly to the ground. They slowly turn and walk away. Following their example, the remaining crowd walks away as well. I don’t know what to say or do. Will Jesus stone me Himself? Is that the point of making them all leave? He wants to be the one to punish me?

I rise to my knees and look up. He is staring directly at me. Surprisingly, He is not looking at me with contempt or condemnation. His eyes burn with an expression of love that I have never felt before. What I have done is unforgivable. Am I worthy of this love? How could I have committed such a sin against God, and this man is looking at me with love? Why isn’t He picking up the rocks and stoning me like I deserve?

He smiles and offers His hand. He helps me to my feet. “Where are they? Is there no one left to condemn you?” He asks.

I fight back the sobs that threaten to overtake my entire being. I shake my head. “No one is left, Sir.”

“Then neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.”

You say, but I say


Have you ever read Matthew chapter 5? I’m talking about reading past the Beatitudes (which are no less awesome and amazing) and starting at verse 21.

Jesus goes into the “You have heard it said, but I say” section that is truly mind blowing.

He is basically saying that we have been home-schooled in the wrong home. We think with the mind of the world, the enemy, and then He proceeds to shred every bit of human wisdom and reasoning, replacing it with truth.

Let me back up a bit. Proverbs 14:12 says:

There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

The way that seems right to a man is human wisdom, human reasoning, and human logic. Three things that desperately attempt to undermine the truth of God’s Word, and lead us down the path of destruction.

Think about it. When we hear a story of two people torturing and beating a 3 year old boy to death, we immediately get angry. There’s no way around it. That is a heart-breaking story full of loss and pain that most of us can’t even fathom. I read so many comments on Facebook from people, who say they are Christians, talking about what they thought would be a fair punishment. Death penalty. They need to be tortured themselves. Someone should forget the judicial system and kill them both. Things like that.

It breaks my heart.

Those comments sound normal. Even to other Christians, they sound like valid suggestions, especially the death penalty idea.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Wait. What?

That’s completely opposite of how we want to react. Those people deserve to be punished.

If we want what we deserve, we can all go to Hell. 

We deserve eternity in the fiery pit. If Jesus thought like we do, He would have never died on the Cross.

Human reasoning would have said “But wait, I haven’t done anything wrong. I did nothing but help these people. I healed them. I fed them. I spent time with them when no one else would. You know what, I don’t deserve to be treated this way. Look, Father. I’m done with these people. They don’t deserve my innocent blood. They have completely rejected me in every way possible. Wait, what are they yelling out? Are they saying Barabbas? Barabbas??? Are you serious??? You have GOT to be kidding me! Come on! I’m done. I’m outta here. Beam me back up.”

Can you imagine those words not only coming out of the mouth of Jesus, but even running thorough His mind?

Of course not. It sounds absurd.

Another comparison can be found in John 20:16-18, which says:

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

Jesus is alive. Mary sees Him, and didn’t even know who He was at first. Look very carefully at what He says. “Go to My brethren.”

Wow.

He could have said “Go tell those knuckle heads, who are all in hiding, that you have seen me, and where I’m going now.”

The disciples deserted Him, betrayed Him, and didn’t believe Him, yet He still referred to them as His brothers. To me, that is a big deal.

How do we act towards people who do those very same things to us?

It’s easy to love those who love us right back. The key to living like Jesus is to also love our enemies.

No matter what situation or circumstances we find ourselves in, let’s follow the letters in red. We can’t go wrong with those.

Labels


Everything has a label. Actually, everyone has a label as well.

I read in my Bible that we aren’t supposed to regard people in the flesh once we are born again. Well, here, let me show you. 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 says (emphasis mine):

14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

This is one of my favorite passages of scripture. Truth just leaps off the pages and screams from the mountaintops. If you combine this with the other passage about our fight not being against flesh and blood, it all begins to make sense.

When we label people, we are regarding them in the flesh. We fail to see their created value.

You’re pro abortion.

You’re a homosexual.

You’re Catholic.

You’re Presbyterian.

You’re Mormon.

You’re a devil worshiper.

You’re an alcoholic.

People find their identity in that stuff. The bottom line is this: We are all people, human beings, created in the image of God. Period.

Galatians 3:28 says:

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

That’s awesome.

Insert a label into that verse to take the place of Jew or Greek, slave or free.

Paul isn’t saying we are all the same. Like robots. We are all one in Christ. Everything was made through Christ. We were created in His image. We are all sons and daughters of the King. We all have a destiny and purpose. It’s why we were created.

To manifest the image of God here on Earth.

To become love. That’s why we’re here. How can we do that if all we see is a label?

If you’re a Baptist, and you come across a Lutheran, you’re already thinking about differences in beliefs and how you will defend your doctrine, etc. It’s crazy.

We get so tied up in debate, the desire to be right, and our own arrogance, we fail to see people through the lens of God.

And there is only one way He looks at us. With love.

How do I know that? Because the Bible says that God so loved the world, that He gave. And you know what is truly awesome? It will say that same thing tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

There is only one way I want to be labeled, and that’s as a believer.

I’m not any one denomination. I’m not a result of my past. I have been bought with a price. I’m born again. The old is gone, and all things have become new. Not some things. All.

Once we realize that, and understand that we are no longer bound by sin, it will change everything.

Let’s throw away the labels of denomination and society, and see people through love.

Are we truly different?


When it comes to distinguishing Christians from the rest of the world, the lines have become slightly more blurred.

What does it actually mean to be in the world, but not of it?

Romans 12:1-2 says:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

I believe it has less to do with avoiding things, and more to do with dying to something we were never created to be in the first place. 

The odds were stacked against us at the moment of conception. Every single human being is born into Adam and the fall of man. To put it more simply, we were all born into sin. We arrived into this world bearing a nature opposite of God, and with a mind desperately in need of renewal. We are consumed with self. Self being the complete and polar opposite of love.

But, there is good news. Quite literally, the Gospel means good news. We were bought with a price. A very high price. It came at the cost of Jesus sacrificing His life. I often picture the scene in my mind. I don’t believe the soldiers had to drag, push, pull, or manhandle Jesus in any way to get Him onto that tree. I believe Jesus crawled up onto the old rugged cross and stretched out His hands, waiting for the nails. That’s how much He loves us. He saw through our sin, rejection, hatred, failures, and lost identity and recognized our true potential. Our true value and worth.

Jesus didn’t die so we can chase the American Dream.

Jesus didn’t die so we can act like Heaven on Sundays, and live like Hell the rest of the week.

Jesus didn’t die so we can say a prayer and wait around for a bus ride into Heaven.

Jesus didn’t die so we can treat God like a genie in a bottle.

Jesus didn’t die so we can please our flesh.

If the only difference between us and the lost is church attendance, we are making a mockery of the Cross. 

We were created to manifest the image of God. We don’t have the right to live for our self. We were bought with a price, and we are not our own. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says:

20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

If we are truly dying to self, and desiring to seek righteousness above all else, we won’t want what the world has to offer. What we put our time and money into is the evidence of where our heart lies. Where our treasure resides. Are we putting more effort into the things that are seen that will wither away? Or, are we investing in the unseen, which is eternal?

2 Corinthians 4:18 says:

18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

When we encounter other people, can they see Christ in us, the hope of glory? Or do they see someone just like them? Unhappy, complaining all the time, miserable, forlorn, overwhelmed with life, worried, fearful, and restless.

There needs to be something inside, demonstrated by our demeanor, language, and expressions, that sets us apart from the world. We need to show people the evidence of what we say we have. They’ve heard it all before. They want to see it in action.

Are we truly different? Let’s drop the judgmental attitudes, self-consuming pleasures, and the right to live for ourselves.

Let’s become love, demonstrate Jesus to the lost, and crush Hell for a living.

When did it become God incorporated?


Satan’s plans rest on one, simple thought process.

That we, as Christians, only need God, we don’t actually love Him. There is a huge difference. One that can keep us from the intimate relationship with God we were created for.

Let’s back up a bit.

Genesis 1:26-29 says (emphasis mine):

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[b] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Look how many times it talks about us being created in God’s image. That’s amazing. It was repeated several times in just those three scriptures. It must be pretty important.

Man was created in complete perfection, without the blemish or stain of sin. Adam had fellowship with God in the Garden. They talked together. They walked together. There was nothing separating them from intimacy. Everything was amazing and awesome until the fall placed an unbreakable barrier between God and man.

Many years passed. Mankind had the chance to enter the promised land and taste the goodness of God. The children of Israel wandered forty years in the desert for one reason. They were consumed with self. Thanks to the fall, people cared more about what they could get, than Who they could live for. They had food on the ground every morning. They had shaded during the day, and fire at night. God parted the seas in order for them to escape Egypt. Still, they griped and complained about everything.

God was right there, in their face, and they didn’t want Him.

They enjoyed the provision, but still refused to follow the Provider.

Let’s leap ahead to the day when the sky turned to black, and an innocent man hung dying on a tree. God wanted His children back. He wanted intimacy and communion with His creation once again. Like it was with Adam. He sent Jesus to die, not to expose our sin, but to reveal our true identity. The identity that was lost in the Garden.

God said if they ate of the tree, they would surely die. They ate, and didn’t fall over dead, so it must have meant something else.

That perfect, blameless, stainless image they were created in, fell to the wayside, died, and they took on the very nature of the enemy. Christ had to die in order to reconcile us back to our Father. He defeated sin and death forever on that day. The power of sin could no longer keep us from our Creator.

The value of something is determined by the price paid. God paid the highest price imaginable to get us back. He wants to live inside of us. I’m pretty sure our worth and value are high.

Yet, we’ve reduced the Gospel to saying a prayer to get into Heaven.

I don’t believe God paid that high price so we could incorporate Him into our lives in order to have a better day.

If we only need Him, we will only talk to Him when we’re lacking something. If we love Him, we commune with Him constantly. We will want to build a relationship. We will die to our self, and allow Him to consume everything we are.

Jesus said to die to our self, pick up our cross, and follow Him. We have to become love. If we don’t have a solid relationship with our Father, how can we ever love someone else?

Why do we so desperately hold on to something that we were never created to be in the first place?

Galatians 2:20 says:

20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Let’s not live for ourselves and try to incorporate God when things go wrong. Hoping He can make it all better. He’s not a genie in a bottle, waiting for our rub.

He is the living God of all creation. He became a man and modeled the Christian life here on Earth. He wants to live inside each and every one of us.

Recently, I took communion alone in the secret place. It was just me and God. No one else was around. It was one of the most intimate and amazing things I’ve ever done. Let’s stop playing church, and get alone with our Father. Time is short, and there are so many in this world who are lost and in need of what we say we have.

Let’s quit talking about it. Let’s live this thing out and become love.

Christ in us, the hope of glory.

What if Jesus meant what He said?


I wrote an article last year entitled What If. (Click HERE to read) It was one of those moments where I just kept asking the question over and over about a variety of things. It’s something that sparks inner dialog and even more questions. It makes you think. I know it did for me anyway.

I’ve been a Christian for quite some time now, but I haven’t truly known what that means until just in the last year or so. See, we’ve been taught so many things in churches, and unfortunately, many of those things are just plain wrong. It’s time to open our Bibles, get alone in the secret place with our Father, and allow the Holy Spirit to speak truth.

Something that baffles me is how easily we stake our belief system on what someone says. Or teaches. Or preaches. Before you light up the torches and fashion a stake, hear me out.

There is a place for teachers and preachers. No doubt about it. What scares me is when these people base their doctrine, or beliefs on what they’ve experienced or seen, and not on what Jesus said.

Hebrews 2:6-9 says (emphasis mine):

But one testified in a certain place, saying:

“What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?
You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” 

For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

This is an amazing passage of scripture. 6,7,and 8 talk about how ALL things have been put into subjection under our feet by God. We are after all, man…mankind. That’s who he’s talking about here. When I read this, I think of praying for someone to get healed, taking authority over demonic spirits, and situations where we can’t see God working. These are areas where we might be easily shaken because immediate results are lacking.

We might pray for someone to rise out of a wheelchair and walk, and they don’t. That shouldn’t determine our belief system on healing. From that one experience, we can’t say healing isn’t for today. Why? Because the evidence we don’t see with our own eyes, doesn’t change the truth of God’s word. Jesus said one of the signs that follow believers is that they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. Hebrews says we might not see everything yet, but we see Jesus.

It’s a clear directive to keep our eyes on Christ no matter what we see or experience.

If we pray for someone, nothing happens, and we immediately feel like a failure, we have no faith at all. Faith is believing what Jesus said, praying for someone, and praising God no matter the outcome.

So many doctrines and beliefs come from human wisdom and experiences. It’s a tool used by the devil himself to deceive people.

I’m sure everyone on the planet knows who Brittany Maynard is by now. The 29 year old woman with terminal brain cancer who moved to Oregon so she could take advantage of the death with dignity act. This story is so sad to me. Let’s get something straight right off the bat. God came to give life, He doesn’t take it. Satan is here to kill, steal, and destroy. Cancer is straight from the pit of Hell, and it’s God’s will to heal people from the horrible disease. Jesus laid hands on people, and they were healed. If it wasn’t God’s will to heal, Jesus would have been going directly against His father. That just wouldn’t happen.

There is no such thing as terminal illness in the Kingdom. We’ve been given the same power that raised Christ from the dead. I believe 100% that Brittany could have been healed from that horrible disease. I’m not mentioning this as judgement towards her or her family at all. Not even close. It’s just an modern day example of whether we believe the words of Jesus or not. And there is no guarantee she would have even allowed a believer to pray for her. And that’s okay. Cancer is one of the largest, fear causing words in the English language. Fear isn’t of God. We don’t need to fear cancer. We need to believe we have power over it through our Savior.

And please don’t get me wrong. I’m not being insensitive to those who have lost loved ones from any kind of illness or disease. I am so very sorry for your loss.

The body of Christ needs to wake up and embrace the truth that we have power. God is the giver and creator of life. Satan is here to destroy us.

Mark 16:15-18:

15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

What if Jesus meant what He said?

Love Never Fails


Earlier this year, I published a collection of 10, first-person perspective Bible stories entitled I Was There. (Click HERE to purchase) I had such a great response to the book that I decided to write another one. The proposed title for the new one is I Believe. I plan on publishing first of next year. I still have a couple more stories to write, and then the editing process. I wanted to give you a taste of what’s coming. This story is entitled Love Never Fails. It’s not the complete story, because that would be more than just a taste. Let me know what you think. (This is not the completely edited, polished manuscript, so please ignore any errors)

 

I wasn’t sure how the day was going to end, but there was a feeling deep inside my being that would not go away. Regret, mixed with dread, churned in my stomach and clawed at my conscience. I have done some things in my life that I am not proud of, but I may have gone too far this time. The addiction had rooted itself into such a level of my soul, that I feared its hold would never be broken. I felt so ashamed.

No one knew anything when we met to break bread together. The secret I carried in my heart would more than likely destroy many people. Some of whom were my closest friends. That fact alone caused me to hesitate, but unfortunately, the damage had already been done. The money burned like hot coals inside my cloak. Even though I loathed the very thought of what I had to do, my greed claimed a larger piece of my soul.

The men I had met with earlier knew my weakness. They devised a plan that would ensnare me and render me helpless to refuse their enticing offer. I always said that loyalty could never be compromised by gold or silver. Apparently, I was dreadfully wrong. They had purchased my services and would force me to hurt someone I truly loved. By the time we met that night, it was far too late to change my mind. They owned me, and they knew it.

I wasn’t sure what the others would say if they found out. We were so closely tied together, like a family, for several years. The friendships I had formed were real, not just casual and fleeting. There were times we didn’t all get along, but that was to be expected. We were following a man who was different than anyone else. We didn’t’ always see things the way he did. We couldn’t possibly. I could honestly say I loved each and every one of them. They knew things about me that not even my blood relatives knew. Hidden things. Secret things.

If they had any idea about what I would do that night, they would be devastated. Somehow I had managed to live a double life for a period of time, and had covered my tracks very well. I would be labeled a traitor; there was no doubt about that. I would have to accept it, and somehow move past the hurt feelings and broken hearts. Somewhere down the road of my life, I would once again find peace. That was my hope.

Things had become rather chaotic leading up to our last meal together. We entered the city under the praises of most everyone just a few days earlier. We were accepted at first, but things began to take a turn for the worst. The religious leaders couldn’t stand our Teacher. On several occasions, they attempted to trap him in lies and deceit, but always failed. They began to see him as a threat and not the promised Messiah. That’s when they contacted me. I guess they could sense my wavering dedication to the man I had lived with for three years.

Shame burned through my veins as I sat there wondering if anyone knew. I had been extremely careful with my meetings. No one ever seemed to notice I was gone. Although I was confident my secret was safe, I had a sinking feeling at least one of the men at the table knew exactly what was going on. Would he say anything to the rest?

When we had all finally gathered at the table, there was an uncomfortable silence for several moments. It was hard to describe. Jesus looked troubled. He sat there looking at us as the soft candlelight danced inside his soft, brown eyes. I had noticed him in that mood occasionally during our travels over the years, but something was bothering him even more on that night. His stare met mine and I couldn’t blink. His eyes bore deep into my soul. Even though he could read my every intention like an open book, he suddenly smiled.

I wanted to feel at ease, but I couldn’t. I looked down and waited until he stood up from the table. He took a bowl and carefully filled it with water. He knelt before Thomas and began to wash his feet. There was a tenderness and sincerity in the action that nearly brought me to tears. This was God’s only son, born into the earth as a man, removed from his throne as a king, and was now honoring the men he called family. I couldn’t understand. I looked around and realized everyone else was confused as well.

He finished with Thomas, and moved over to Peter.

“Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Peter asked quietly, almost in a whisper. The silence felt like a fragile vase that no one desired to break by speaking too loudly.

The guilt and shame gripped my heart even tighter as I watched the scene unfold before me. I had accepted money in exchange for betraying my Master. That was something I would have to live with until the day I passed from the earth. I swallowed the lump of emotion that had formed in the back of my throat. I was so thirsty, but didn’t dare move to get a drink.

“You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand,” Jesus replied as he knelt down.

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” He shook his head and drew his feet back. I knew Peter was stubborn, but there was something else going on in that moment. Something I couldn’t explain.

Jesus reached out and rested his hand on Peter’s knee. “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me,” he said.

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you. You are not all clean.”

My heart dropped after hearing those words. Of course he knew what I had done. He was Jesus. He knew our every thoughts, desires, and secrets. I bowed my head and stared at the floor. If any of the other disciples looked me in the eye, they would see my guilt and shame. They would know the Master was talking about me.

When Jesus was finished with Peter’s feet, he knelt down in front of me. The weight of the silver in my pocket couldn’t compare to the heaviness that hung over my shoulders. Darkness like no other had invaded my heart. I didn’t want to look up.

“Judas?”

 

To be continued…