Image is everything


I read something on a blog over the weekend that made me realize even more why we have such a hard time walking in righteousness.

Someone posed the question, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Why did God create man so weak and sinful?”

My answer to that is simple. He didn’t.

Gen 1:27-28 says:

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.

Then verse 31:

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

There is no evil, sin, or weakness in God. He created man in His image. It’s repeated in that verse, so I know it’s important that we get it. Everything God created was good. Until sin entered the Garden, man was walking in perfect righteousness with God the Father.

Satan was very convincing, offering Adam and Eve everything they thought they were missing out on. A couple bites of fruit later, man fell, and the law of sin and death began.

Too often, we relate our identity to our ability to sin.

We walk around defeated, believing we are just messed up people always on the verge of sinning.

One of the biggest phrases used is, “Well, I’m only human.”

So what? God says to live by the Spirit, not by our flesh. So being human isn’t an excuse.

Jesus paid a very high price on the Cross to reconcile us back to the Father. God has given us a chance to reclaim what is ours from the very beginning of time. Our true identity as sons and daughters of the King.

I believe it’s entirely possible to once again walk in righteousness with God the Father. Just as if man had never eaten the fruit. If it’s not possible, then what are we doing here? Jesus didn’t die just so we could get a ride to Heaven. He mapped out the Christian life for us by being born a human, and walking in complete love while on this Earth.

He made a way to reclaim our identity, our birthright.

Being a Christian isn’t about trying not to sin. It’s about total and complete transformation of life.

It’s about seeking righteousness above everything else.

Matthew 6:33 –

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Believers gotta stop freaking out


This was my Facebook status earlier today.

Why should it truly matter if people say Xmas or Happy Holidays? If we’re fighting that, it just reveals that we are moved by what people do or say. Stop shouting “Keep Christ in Christmas” and “He is the reason for the season.” If we’re saying those things while judging others, our witness is a big fat zero. Live a life that demonstrates God is on the throne of your heart. Walk in love.

As believers, we get so caught up in what this world is doing, that we tend to forget about why we’re actually in the world.

In Matthew 24, Jesus talks about the end of the world, the last days. Verse 12 says,

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

I’ve always assumed that verse is talking about people who aren’t saved.

What if He’s talking about believers?

It’s a very sobering thought. In simple terms, “iniquity shall abound” means there will be a lot of sin. Well, look around. It’s pretty obvious that’s happening.

And the more people sin, the more judgement they receive. And sadly, it’s usually from those claiming to be Christians.

It’s becoming less and less shocking to read through comments about a controversial topic on someone’s blog, and the worst remarks are left by Christians. Argumentative, arrogant, holier than though, and sometimes just straight up spewing hate towards others.

It’s sad.

We spend so much time being right, that we forget God has created us to love people.

I brought up some points on Tuesday with my post, Stop trying to prove God exists.

We have to stop taking things so personal. We act as if  homosexuals, atheists, Buddhists, and agnostics are our problem. News flash: THEY AREN’T. Our biggest problem is us. We have to get over us, and follow Jesus.

If God acted like us and allowed everything bad on this Earth to affect Him, He would be a complete basket case. I’m pretty sure He would have to be admitted to a psych ward. He isn’t capable of freaking out, not just because He’s God, but because He is love.

If we are walking in relationship with our Father, we aren’t going to care what people say or do. It shouldn’t ruffle our feathers or influence our attitude in any way. We don’t have to jump on the boycott bandwagon or write a million letters to our senator.

If you squeeze an orange, you are going to get orange juice. If you squeeze an apple, apple juice. Too often, a Christian gets squeezed, and everything but Jesus comes out. Hurt, anger, frustration, judgement.

Let’s not allow ourselves to be hurt by the world. Let’s hurt for the world, and show them Jesus.

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.

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…

A Christian perspective on Halloween


I’ve changed. I see things so differently now. That’s what happens when we become born again and allow ourselves to be pottered by our Father. Our hearts change. Our way of thinking changes. It’s awesome.

We start to see people, not for who they are standing in front of us, but we see them as God does. We see their value, worth, and potential. We see them as being created in God’s very own image. We see a life that has purpose.

Halloween is the one night of the year when hundreds of people you haven’t met come knocking on your door. Yes, most are children in search of candy, but think about it. How often do people walk up onto your front porch and ring your doorbell? I don’t see witches, sorcery, and darkness. I see opportunity.

I used to slam churches for having Trunk or Treat in their parking lots. I would say things like “They are still celebrating Halloween and worshiping the devil” and “They just change the name to make it sound better” or “God is up there shaking His head in dismay.”

Please punch me in the face. I have since repented for being so…well…judgmental.

I personally don’t believe there are different levels of love. Telling someone God loves them and He thinks they are awesome has the same effect as praying for a cripple, and they climb out of a wheelchair. It’s all about motive. To love someone means we show them unconditional love, without expecting any certain thing to happen. We love. The Holy Spirit moves. Maybe in that moment. Maybe later when that person is sitting in their car holding a gun to their head. We may never know how our words and actions impact someone.

How can we be a light to the world if we only interact with those inside a church building?

I’m not saying sacrifice animals and play with Ouija boards. I’m saying don’t turn away Iron Man when he rings your bell and holds out his hands for candy. Tell him how much Jesus loves him while you’re handing him a Snickers bar.

As Christians, we have to get over this mindset that if we accidentally see, hear, or touch evil, we become contaminated. That’s just fear, and fear isn’t of God. Jesus lives inside of us. Greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world. It says that in my Bible. Do you really think He is repulsed by someone who isn’t born again? Do you think that God is up there covering His ears when someone is swearing? Come on, that sounds so ridiculous, doesn’t it? But yet, that’s what we do.

Jesus ate with tax collectors and pharisees. He laid hands on the lame, blind, and diseased. He showed mercy and forgiveness to prostitutes and murderers. People touched His cloak and became healed. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

Dressing up and trekking around the neighborhood in search of candy isn’t going to damn you from ever walking through the pearly gates of Heaven. Our goal isn’t to just say a prayer and get into Heaven anyway. Our purpose on this planet is to manifest the image of God and love others. Unconditionally.

Love the cashier at Walmart who is constantly complaining about his/her life.

Love that person who stands behind you at the bank huffing and puffing because it’s taking too long.

Love the obnoxious customer who says you have no idea what you’re doing.

And love every Hulk, Minion, Zombie, Witch, Captain America, and Vampire that graces your doorstep tomorrow evening.

Instead of locking our doors, turning out the lights, and hiding in a dark corner clutching our Bibles, let’s see them how God does.

Lovable. Reachable. Redeemable.

The twisted Gospel


I’ve gone about one week without Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, and it is amazing. I seriously doubt I will return to any of those apps. I want to keep my blog here, because I am a writer. I like to write. I want to share things that God puts on my heart, whether anyone agrees with them or not. I’m not here to argue or debate over things. The bottom line is this: Jesus paid a high price to reconcile me back to my Father. He said, she said…yeah, but…well, that’s not right… None of that stuff matters. If it’s not aligned with the heart and mind of God, I’m not interested.

The Gospel is good news.

Luke 2:10-11 says (emphasis mine):

10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Somehow we have turned this message into a struggle not to sin, barely making it through life, and riding the ups and downs of our experiences. Jesus said “It is finished”, not “To be continued.” Where is the joy? Where is the hope that lost people are so desperately seeking? Christ in us, the hope of glory. (Col 1:27) There is nothing that shows we are any different from the world, except that we go to church.

Here is what Christianity in this country looks like.

  1. See that you are a sinner
  2. Say this prayer (which didn’t even exist until maybe 500 years ago)
  3. You now have a ticket into Heaven
  4. Go to church

The problem with this is that we walk out of a church service, revival, or crusade and get mad at someone who cuts us off in traffic. We complain about our money, jobs, and circumstances. We argue and fight with our spouse on the way home. We are teaching our children that Christianity is just going to church.

Saying the “sinners prayer” doesn’t make us Christians. It’s a twisted form of the true Gospel.

The Gospel isn’t about being blessed by God and having our names in the book of life.

The Gospel is dying to self, picking up our cross, and following Jesus. During His time on Earth, Christ modeled the Christian life. He was entirely dead to His own flesh, and completely surrendered to love. He was love personified. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. Jesus was a human man, filled with the Holy Spirit, walking in love. He said to follow Him. I know it’s possible.

We can live just as Christ did. 

Mark 16:14-18 (better known as the Great Commission) says:

14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 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[b] 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.”

It doesn’t say the signs that follow believers are: complaining, division, conditional love, hypocrisy, judgement, condemnation, pride, and selfishness.

Just the very fact that we complain shows we are concerned with our self. Which, if I read my Bible correctly, means we aren’t dead to self, which means we aren’t following Christ. He said to die to self.

It’s impossible to walk in love if we are still holding on to our self. 

Here are the attributes of love from 1 Cor 13. I love the Message Bible version.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

All of these attributes are the complete, polar opposite of self.

Satan believes that we love our selves more than we love God.

Let’s prove him wrong, and drop the twisted Gospel. Let’s die to our self, and walk in love.