Religion is a Crutch!

Madelyn Murray O’Hair (who fought successfully to remove prayer from school) famously said, “Religion is a crutch and only the crippled quote-religion-is-a-crutch-and-only-the-crippled-need-crutches-madalyn-murray-o-hair-117-14-62need crutches.” She was so crippled with hatred for her father that she chased him around the house with a butcher knife, trying to kill him.

Jesse Ventura said religion is a “crutch for weak-minded people.” Before he went out and sued the widow of the American military hero Chris Kyle. He was so crippled with…something…that he sued a widow.

Always a bad plan to attempt to deride religion by calling it a crutch.
First, some of the very best, most excellent people in history were…religious. Washington, Lincoln, Wilberforce, Tolkien, CS Lewis, Martin Luther AND Martin Luther King.

Second, there will come a day in every man or woman’s life when it will be proven that we are all crippled and in need of a crutch.

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Weak-minded people like Washington, Wilberforce, Tolkien, Martin Luther AND Martin Luther King (none of these weak-minded people sued a military widow).
WE all have bodies and minds that are broken and battered and bruised that will eventually die and decay.

WE are all crippled.

Some try to overcome it through bravado and bravery and pompous comments, some just hobble along until they die, and some deny it to the end.

The truth is…if I live long enough to see life beat the arrogance out of me, and I use just a little bit of the wisdom God gave me, I’ll get to that place where I personally realize that I, just like every other human being, am actually crippled.

I’m crippled in a hundred different ways. Do I need a crutch? You bet I do.


In John 6, Jesus does a remarkable thing. He’s massively popular with around 15,000 men, women and children following Him. So He preaches a sermon that DRIVES EVERYONE AWAY. He cuts His own popularity from 15,000 to 12 disciples!

He notices this and asks his inner circle of 12, “Do you want to leave Me to?”

And Peter the bold, Peter the outspoken, Peter the “often wrong but never unsure” has what may be his greatest moment of inspiration and clarity – he just nails it.

Peter says, “Lord, where would we go? You have the very words of eternal life.

The words of Jesus are more than clever prose or poetic expressions, they are life itself…for today and tomorrow and forever and ever and ever.


So I misled you a bit. Kind of.

Religion can be a crutch. Jesus is not. A crutch just helps a cripple hobble along, Jesus will carry us along, and in His Kingdom will heal completely.

Isaiah wrote about Him almost 3000 years ago. Isaiah 35:6 says “The cripple will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!”

I’m crippled in a hundred different ways. Do I need a crutch? You bet I do.  At my best, at my worst, I’m entirely dependent on Jesus…the one whose words are life itself…for today and tomorrow and forever and ever and ever.

Amen amen!

 

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#BestChristmasEver

best-christmas-ever_title

Q: How do you get the best Christmas? 

A: With an excellent Christmas list.

“Like this David?

  • A list of food to be bought.
  • A list of parties to go to.
  • A list of presents you want.
  • A list of presents your kids want.
  • A list of Hallmark Channel movies to watch.
  • A list of Christmas shows to watch.

Is that the kind of list required for the #BestChristmasEver?”

No. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. go-to-jail

Those things are fine and fun and nothing wrong with any of them. But not one of them is essential for the Best Christmas Ever. In fact, for most of the last 2000 years, Christians all over the world have worshiped without any of those things!

I think there’s a better Christmas list. It’s found at the beginning of Matthew. It’s the genealogy of Jesus. “Yawn,” right? The word “genealogy” does not excite me at all.

What if I told you that:

  1. It’s the “family of Jesus list,” and
  2. It has the grandpa and great grandpa and great great grandpa of Jesus, and
  3. A bunch of the folks in His family are reprobates?

Would that make it more interesting? Because that’s the real deal. In the list of Jesus’ family (Jesus who is perfect, sinless, wholly God and wholly man), there is:

  • Ruth – a descendent of incest – the Moabites are descendants of Lot and HIS DAUGHTER- (all caps because I am yelling in horror) “having relations” (Gen. 19:33).
  • Tamar – who dressed up as a prostitute so that her father-in-law would GET HER PREGNANT (all caps-yelling again) because her husband died before they could have children.
  • Judah – who unknowingly had sex with his daughter-in-law because HE WAS HAVING SEX WITH A PROSTITUTE (all caps again-so much to yell about)!
  • Rahab – who WAS a prostitute.
  • Jechoniah – was so horrible that God actually cursed him.

Not exactly what you’d expect if you’re thinking, “family of Jesus.”

Imagine Tamar’s kid – first day of first grade:

Kid sitting next to Tamar’s son: Who’s your mom?
Tamar’s son: Tamar.
Kid sitting next to Tamar’s son: Tamar??? REALLY?? The one who had sex WITH YOUR GRANDPA??????

Horrifying.

But there they are. Right in the family of Jesus. Complete moral disasters. He’s got major league outcasts in His earthly family.

Matthew is the writer. Also an outcast. And rightly so. He was a Jew and a crooked tax collector who took money from his fellow Jews, for their enemy the Romans. Matthew was a traitor before he started following Jesus. Everybody hated the tax collector.

And I have to wonder, (pure speculation on my part) maybe Matthew’s thinking about being an outcast as he’s carried along by the Holy Spirit writing this…

Matthew: “I’m going to air some of my people’s dirty laundry right here at the beginning – to set the stage for the rest of the story.

Because when folks hear about the woman caught in adultery being saved and Zacchaeus the crooked being saved, and the thief on the cross being saved, that’s going to cause some self-righteous heads to spin.

So let’s be clear dear reader – Jesus has outcasts in His earthly family and they are right here in this geneology!”

Praise God He has outcasts in His family. Because we are all outcasts. All Every one of us.

Jesus died to wash the outcast clean, and bring her or him into His family.

Maybe you’ve felt like an outcast before. Left out. Left over. Awkward. Uncomfortable. Maybe you have some secrets in your past, or in your family history and you think, “If people only knew the real story – they wouldn’t want anything to do with me!”

No no no. Jesus is Lord of the outcast.

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 (NLT)

In Christ, you’re no longer on the outside. In Christ, you’re on the inside.

Christmas means no matter what your situation, background, secrets, or history – Christmas means through Jesus, you are included in God’s great family. Not as a black sheep, not as an unwanted child. But as a man or woman deeply loved by Jesus.

You. Are. Included.

Amen and amen. And Merry Christmas!

 

 

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10 Things You Gotta to Know About Walking on the Water

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I think Peter has gotten a bad rap.

Since childhood I’ve been told the story of Jesus walking on the water and how Peter was brash, overreactive, spoke without thinking, took a risk and then failed miserably because he’s such a loser-he took his eyes off of Jesus (because no one has ever done that!). Jesus is the hero; Peter is a zero.

Wrong (about Peter – Jesus really is a hero).

If you don’t know the story, it’s in Matthew 14. Here’s the Readers’ Digest version: Disciples are on a boat. Strong wind and waves. Jesus walks to them, on the water. They think He’s a ghost. He’s not. Peter wants to walk on the water too. Jesus says, “Come on!” Peter does. But then looks at waves, gets scared, and sinks. Jesus pulls him up.

Of the twelve disciples in the boat that day, I’d rather be Peter than any of others. If anyone deserves to be discounted, it’s the other 11. Not Peter.

While it’s true that Jesus asked Peter why he doubted, consider:

  1. 12 men saw Jesus walking on the water; ONE wanted to do it bad enough to ask.
  2. 12 men saw Jesus walking on the water; ONE had enough faith to get out of the boat.
  3. 12 men saw Jesus walking on the water; ONE had the initiative to get out of the boat.
  4. 12 men saw Jesus walking on the water, only ONE other, in all of human existence, actually did walk on the water.
  5. 12 men saw Jesus walking on the water, ONE tried, succeeded, and then failed.
  6. 12 men saw Jesus walking on the water; ELEVEN failed even to try. 
  7. 12 men saw Jesus walking on the water; ONE was motivated by faith, we can only surmise that 11 were motivated by fear.
  8. 12 men saw Jesus walking on the water; Only ONE learned first-hand what it means to take his eyes off Jesus, sink, and have Jesus pull him right back up!
  9. 12 men saw Jesus walking on the water; ONE stands out for his faith.
  10. 12 men saw Jesus walking on the water; ONE got to (and this is the best part) walk on the water with Jesus

Peter got to do something that nobody else has ever done! He got to experience what no one else has ever experienced! And he got to do it with Jesus. Why? Because Peter did what nobody else on that boat would do.

If you want to experience God in a way you never have before,
do something you’ve never done before.

William Carey said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” That’s Peter. And that could be you too.

It’s much much better to attempt something wonderful for God and fail, then be a smashing success at doing absolutely nothing. 

Some of you have tried something wonderful for Jesus and you think you’ve failed. You may be heartbroken. But instead, take heart! In God’s economy – you have won…because you got out of the boat and tried for Jesus, while thousands of others sat quietly on their posterior in the security of the stern. 

God is calling all of us to reject security. Step onto the water. That’s where you see Jesus at work. That’s where you experience Jesus at work. Win, lose or draw – it’s always a win…when you take a step of faith for Jesus.

It’s time to get out of the boat and attempt something wonderful for God.

Amen, amen.

 

 

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