How Can I Fight ISIS If I’m Not Military, Police or Katy Perry?

The world is a horribly dark place as evidenced by the Islamic terrorist blowing himself up along with 22 kids and parents in Manchester.

And what can I do about horrific darkness like Islamic terrorism?unnamed
If you are in the military, you have a specific role in fighting the darkness.
Do it well. We’re for you.
Praise God for you!

If you’re in law enforcement, you also have a very specific role in fighting the darkness.
Do it well. I’m for you.
Praise God for you!

But if you are not in the military or law enforcement, and following Christ, what can you do? I mean really – what can we do beyond virtue signaling on social media – “I stand with Manchester! At home! I changed my profile pic on Facebook!” Beyond declaring group hugs and no borders and no walls like Katy Perry (who coincidentally lives in a bullet proof bubble with armed security and a wall around her house).

If I’m serious about following Jesus, and I sincerely want to make a difference, isn’t there something I can do?

God actually has a word for you.

In the very beginning, it was dark. In fact, there was nothing. And out of nothing, God created everything. And He said, “Let there be light.” And instantly, there was light.

The darkness was driven back by God’s light.

Fast forward many years, Jesus walked the earth, and He famously said,”I AM the light.” John 8:12IMG_0850

You could accurately proclaim, “That Jesus is lit!”

And about 60 years after Jesus was born there was a very dark city called Ephesus. Half a million people and none of them knew God. Instead, they worshiped the Roman god Diana or the Greek god Artemis. The worship included a lot of dark stuff including temple prostitution and horrific rituals.

Jesus (The Light) showed up in this town, in the form of a little church full of His followers.

And God told says to them in Ephesians 5:8, “For once YOU were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!
And they, “Lit it up.”

So with that all in mind, His word for you?unnamed (1)

Be the light.

Not everyone can get in a jet and drop a MOAB on a hornets’ nest of dark hearts plotting murder and mayhem. Not everyone can go undercover and find people plotting the death of young girls leaving a concert.

But everyone who has Christ can be His light.

So do it. Be the light of Christ to change hearts and minds wherever God has called you to live and work. Ask God every day to use you to shine a light into the souls of people all around you.

Can that really make a difference?

Christ’s light is so powerful that when it shined into the soul of a seething murderous monster named Saul, it changed him into the greatest Christian to ever live – a man named Paul who God used to write half the New Testament.

And here’s the payoff:

The light you shine today might just fight back the darkness in a heart that could do tremendous evil tomorrow.

 

So in this dark and evil world, get lit! And light it up everywhere and every way you possibly can. unnamed (3)

“You are the light of the world—let your good deeds shine out for all to see so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:14, 16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Amen amen.

 

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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.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
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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Arkansas, God and Execution-4 Points

Arkansas is big in the news right now because the state is trying to get through some executions before their execution drugs expire. And some Christians are upset about it and arguing that God is against it (for the record, I love prison ministry, I share Christ with inmates several times a year and I love taking Communion with Christian inmates who are my brothers in Christ).

Now to be clear, reasonable people can disagree on the death penalty. It is harder to get executed if you’re rich and can buy the most expensive lawyer around. Every pro-bono attorney is not Atticus Finch. I’d argue those are obstacles to be overcome, not reasons to do away with capital punishment.

But there is one thing you cannot do if you take the Bible seriously:

You cannot argue that the God of the Bible is against the death penalty.

Last week Shane Claiborne, social activist, tweeted that the death penalty is a disgrace to Jesus.

FullSizeRender (2)
Sorry Shane. Not the Jesus of the Bible. Read Genesis 9:6.
Is that true? Is the death penalty a disgrace to Jesus?

I also came across an article a while back by a “pro-lifer” pleading that Christians MUST reject the death penalty in the case of people like Jack Jones (he raped and strangled Mary Phillips to death in front of her 11-year-old daughter who was tied to a chair) if they are truly pro-life.

Is that true? Does pro-life equal rejection of the death penalty?

On both questions the answer is, “No.”
Here are four reasons why:

1. God is FOR capital punishment.
No ifs, ands or buts. If you want to oppose capital punishment, don’t use God as your source. In fact, you could preface your argument with “I don’t care what God says about it!” Because that’s where you are. And that’s OK! Just be honest. I’m weary of people claiming Christ is against it. It’s in black and white.

The Words of God Himself:
 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, d8488-gen96
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in His own image.
Genesis 9:6 (ESV)

“But that’s Ooooooold Testament. We’re in the age of grace.” Ok. A statement made from ignorance. But I’ll play along.

New Testament:
For he (the govt authority) is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s
wrath on the wrongdoer. Romans 13:4

That’s New Testament. And God says “if you do wrong, BE AFRAID“. And just in case you’re unclear on the weapon, the sword was not used:

  • to shackle a person,
  • to give a person mercy,
  • to taze them,
  • to rehabilitate them,
  • or to write them a citation.

9be0a-esau
Some brutal weapons of destruction.
The sword is a brutal, painful and bloody weapon of destruction, used to “run a person through” so to speak. In short – to execute them. And the sword bearer in Romans 13:4 is God’s instrument of justice and wrath.

So Old Testament, New Testament, God never, ever gives any indication that He is against capital punishment, and in fact, endorses it. Why? Because God values life – He made man in His own image. And He punishes the taking of it. 

2. It is a grave injustice to equate abortion and capital punishment.
When someone argues that to be truly “pro-life” you have to be anti-capital punishment, they are making a horrendously (and I’d argue inhumanly) unjust statement. It’s saying that the murder of an innocent baby is the same as the Biblically endorsed execution of a man who brutally raped and murdered a woman in front of her daughter.

That is sick and twisted and is an indication of a morally compromised mind.

unnamed (4)
This statement is evidence of a broken moral compass.
An innocent baby is not equal in any way to a guilty murderer.

They are not the same. Not in God’s eyes. Not in any sense of justice. Only in a skewed “God’s so impotent and weak that justice is just not even in His framework” sense does this view work.

3. Pleading mercy for a murderer is not necessarily noble OR pro-life.
This point I find most offensive. There’s something particularly unsettling and untoward about Christians who are not the injured party pleading mercy for a murderer.

If you are injured, you have standing to plead for mercy for the aggressor. If your loved one is murdered, I suppose you have some standing to argue for mercy for the murderer.

But if you sit in another state, unaffected by the crime, suffering no loss, suffering none of the pain of the crime, pleading mercy for a murderer does not make you noble or necessarily pro-life. In fact, I’d argue it makes you:

arrogant,
unjust,
lacking in compassion for the true loss of the victim’s loved ones.

And I’d say you have an unhealthy appetite for mercy that doesn’t cost you a thing.

At the very least you have diminished the value of the life taken and the pain and suffering of the victim’s loved ones.

4. Capital punishment doesn’t keep a person from repenting and finding Christ.
Some, with a warped view of justice, argue that when a person is convicted of murder, that we should seek their salvation instead of their just end (according to God’s Word: Gen. 9:6, Romans 13:4).

The two are not mutually exclusive. It’s not either/or. You can give the death sentence in a court of law (no one’s talking about vigilantism here) and still share Christ with someone. As mentioned before, I share Christ with inmates several times a year. I love it when anyone gives their life to Christ!

And the truth is, death sentence for a brutal crime could be a great motivator for repentance. Who wants to stand before God with the stain of brutality and murder on their soul?

You have to look no further that the thief on the cross in Luke 23. It was on the cross, hours away from death…when faced with his own mortality that the thief repented and was granted salvation by none other than Jesus in the flesh. Jesus didn’t save him from execution. Jesus saved him from hell. A much better salvation. 

Why does this matter?

Because Christians need to be people of the Word. People who know it, understand it, and follow it. People who do not misquote it or use it as a shill for their own agenda. And Christians need to be people of justice. Seeking justice and mercy for the victim, whether the victim is a baby killed in the womb, or a man or woman murdered on the street.

God is very clear on capital punishment. He offers salvation to all – the liar, the gossip, the thief and even the murderer. But nowhere in Scripture, NOWHERE in Scripture, does He offer rescue from the just punishment for crime. Rather He sets up governments to institute that justice and defend the defenseless.

God is for capital punishment.

 

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The Shack is Messed Up

 

unnamed-1
  Last line of this tweet kind of says it all. 

I hate to be a frumpy, grumpy old man, but if the new movie, The Shack, is true to the book of the same name, it is really whacked.

 

If you’re not familiar with it – the runaway bestseller was released in 2007 and was simultaneously praised AND criticized across the theological spectrum.

And it is royally messed up. Which is hard to say from watching the previews! Because the previews are heart-wrenching, heart-warming, with good actors, and it looks like it would be a good Christian movie.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Interesting that the star of The Shack is the same guy from Avatar. I like him! And both movies have a religious aspect, neither of which is Christian. Obviously, Avatar has an otherworldly, science fiction religion that the author “made up” for the story.

In the book The Shack ( the movie isn’t out yet), the author also, “made up” the religion for the story. 

How can you say that David?!? It’s a Christian book! It’s been endorsed by some famous Christians! The author says it’s Christian! The MARKETING CAMPAIGN SAYS IT’S CHRISTIAN. NOBODY WOULD LIE IN A MARKETING CAMPAIGN.

Really? I get so weary of folks accepting that everything called Christian just must be. Jesus Himself said people would come in His name – not to save you but to deceive you! Jesus the Son of God said don’t just accept something because someone stamps His name it! You can read it yourself here: Matthew 24:5.

Here’s the bottom line on The Shack: If anyone truly believes God’s Word to be, well…God speaking, then “anyone” should realize that the author of The Shack doesn’t believe what God Himself has already said and he (the author) has made up his own version of a god.

I lost count after about six heresies (beliefs contrary to Christian doctrine) in the book, so I’ll bullet point four major ones.

Here’s a little bit of what I mean:

1. In the book, God the Father presents Himself as Goddess the Mother.  Apparently, the god of the Shack was suffering from the same gender confusion our culture is experiencing!

Think I’m overstating?

God the father/mother speaking, “For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning.”

Woman? Papa? Which is it??? The author made God transgendered way back in 2007! Way before Target let men in the women’s bathroom!

This in spite of the fact that God has chosen to verbally and specifically call Himself, “God the Father” from the time of Adam and Eve all the way through His Word to Revelation.

For at least 5000 years God has deliberately chosen to represent Himself as God the Father.

That alone should be enough to trash the book. According to the Shack – Jesus blew it when He prayed “Our Father in heaven.” Jesus should’ve prayed, “Our Mother in the Shack.” 

When we start making God in whatever form WE choose, we might as well make Him into anything – a piece of wood, Chewbacca, Kanye “Yeezus” West, whatever. It doesn’t matter – because we’re making it up as we go along and that’s ALL idol worship.

And personally? I don’t ever want to stand before God and explain why I decided His description of Himself was SOOOO inadequate that I, in my finite ignorance, chose to change it. That’s the definition of arrogance and foolishness.

Note: Later in the book the god the mother turns into a ponytailed old man hippy. I’m really not sure which is more annoying…

2. The Jesus of the Shack is a counterfeit Jesus (kind of a karmic/universalist Jesus).

Referring to Buddhists, Mormons, and Muslims, Jesus of the Shack declares “I have no desire to make them Christian,” (wait, wut?) and paints Christians as religious fanatics and part of a sinful world system. That may be a lot of things, but that’s not the Jesus of history OR the Bible.

Jesus also tells Mack that he is “the best way any human can relate to Papa (god the father/mother) or Sarayu (The Shack holy spirit).”

Best way?

Best way of what? Many ways? Lots of ways? “Best” implies there are options for relating to God.

No way.

Jesus said He is the only way:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

One way. Not “best” way. Only way.

3. The goddess of The Shack doesn’t punish sin. “She,” says, “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.”

The author is making it up as he goes along….

The real God does take joy in saving people. That’s what John 3:16 is all about. But:

God NEEDS to punish sin because He is a just and good God. 

Crooked evil judges let the guilty go free. Crooked judges must themselves be brought to justice.

God is NOT a crooked judge. He’s a good judge. He’s love and justice. So He must punish sin.

She (the goddess of the Shack) says, “In Jesus, I have forgiven all humans for their sins against me, but only some choose relationship.” If all humans are forgiven, then all go to heaven, even Hitler. Lest you think I’m making too much of this, the author of The Shack has refused to affirm that only the sins of those who repent are forgiven (read more by clicking here-last paragraph).

God has not forgiven all sins. In Acts 3:19 Peter says, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.” 

God’s punishment: “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” Matthew 25:46 (NLT)

God really punishes sin. Every. Single. Bit.

But Jesus willingly took my place, so that if I repent of my sin, and follow Him, His sacrifice will wipe all my sins away.

4. It’s irreverent. I’m not quite sure how to communicate this in a way that sounds “right” when I write it, but the Jesus of the Shack is just a little bit of a ridiculous goof. He’s dropping stuff on the floor and chasing fish that He can’t catch and talks like a child at times (according to the author).

66 books in the Bible, lots and lots of words – so wordy! But God never presents Jesus like that. Ever.

 


So those are my top four reasons The Shack is wrong, whacked, wretched and the worst. 

Now you might say:

a. “But David, it’s fiction!”

So if it’s fiction, anything goes? Like I could write a book about how Jesus didn’t die, didn’t rise from the grave but married and had little Jesuses, and the church covered it up for 2,000 years? That would be ok?

Then how come Christians got all worked up about the DaVinci Code? It was just fiction.

b. “But David come on! It has caused some people to hunger for God!”

Ok! All aboard the money train! I’m publishing a picture book that presents Jesus as Ariana Grande! I’m sure lots of the 12 to 30 male crowd will have an increased hunger for my Jesus, and I’ll get rich!

Is that what we’ve come to? As long as the “Jesus” you present makes people hungry, it’s good? I’m hungry for the bacon god!

Here’s the issue that’s critical for our souls:

Run from anyone that tries to sell you a different God than THE One revealed in His Word. Worship God the Father, creator of heaven and earth. God the Son, who died for our sins and rose to give us eternal life, and God the Holy Spirit, our counselor, and comforter.

At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11 (NLT)

Amen and amen.

 

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God Lives Here

Some of you read the title you thought, “universe.” Some of you read it and thought, “church.” aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Both true but not what I’m talking about at all.

I was thinking recently, “I can relate to God the Father because I have a father. I ‘get’ what He means by that. I can relate to God the Son because we have actual historical pictures of Jesus like this one! And we have Bible stories and songs so I can relate to Him!”

But growing up, I heard about the “Holy Ghost.” Wait. Wut?

Ok – not ghost. That’s King James. How about “Spirit.”

Again with the spooks! What does that mean? For me as a little kid it meant this remote controlled ghost that I ordered for 95 CENTS. What a bargain!!

ghostExcept it was white trash bag with a white balloon and fishing line. My first introduction to the word, “rip-off.” Next was sea monkeys. Don’t bother. They are not monkeys at all! They are brine shrimp. The heartbreak of being a first grader with a pocket full of cash.

But Holy Spirit? What does that mean?

Here’s a phrase that sums it up:

God Lives Here.

Where?

In every follower of Jesus Christ. INSIDE you.

He’s God THE Spirit. Because He’s Spirit, can dwell, make His home in, be inside of – you.

Most Excellent Example: David and Goliath

The story is this: Goliath is a big  Philistine beaten hard by an ugly stick and he loves to kill people and break things. Challenges the Israelites. They – the army – the warriors – are trembling in fear. Like babies.
David – shepherd boy. Goes out to the battlefield. Takes five stones and sling.

goliath
This picture was NOT in my children’s Bible. Most excellent, though. 

Hurls stone at Goliath. Hits Goliath. Goliath falls down. David gets his sword and cuts off his head. Kills him. He’s a hero.

David must be an extraordinary guy right?

No way. Nothing extraordinary about him. But God is extraordinary.

Then how does he KILL the giant David?

Settle down. I’ll tell you.

Jump back ONE chapter in the Bible. This happens:

Samuel the great prophet of God (who was great because the great God spoke through him), goes to Jesse’s house.  “Bring me all your sons.” Jesse calls all of his sons. Except one.

Jesse didn’t bother to call David because David was not very outstanding, remarkable, noteworthy, terrific, unique or spectacular. In fact, you could say (according to his own father anyway), David was ordinary.

David was so ordinary that when Sam says to Jesse “call your sons”, David was:

Left out.                      Left behind.                         Forgotten (by his own dad).

Excluded.                     Insignificant.

 In Jesse’s estimation, David doesn’t count.

Have you ever felt like that? I have. Many times. My position in grade school baseball wasn’t left field, it was “left out.” We’ve all been left out at some point.

Samuel goes through all David’s bros – Eliab – the face jock, Abinadab – voted “best six pack abs,” Shammah – voted “most likely to slay a giant.”

God says “no, no, no – I don’t look on the outward appearance, I look at the heart.”

Sam asks Jesse “Are these all your boys?” Jesse says “Oh yeah, there’s that one…ummmmm…the sheep boy, but he’s busy.” And of course you and I know, THAT’S DAVID, GOD’S MAN, GOD’S ANOINTED, GOD’S LEADER, GOD’S CHOSEN KING FOR THE NATION FORGOTTEN WITH THE SHEEP!!!

As is often the case in my writing I’m using all caps because I am shouting at how absurd this is.

Go read the story. So very fascinating. David is brought in from the field. Samuel anoints him, and at that moment (I Sam 16:13) the Spirit of the Extraordinary God “RUSHED” upon David.

God lives here. In David. From that day on.  And ordinary David goes and slays the giant. Because the extraordinary God lives in ordinary David. 

God lived in David, and made him dauntless and bold and daring and courageous and wise. And God will do the same with you.

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Romans 8:11 (NLT)

Get this: the extraordinary God lives in ordinary you.

The more you recognize that and walk in that truth and believe it and cooperate with Him, the more He will make you:

dauntless

bold

daring

courageous and wise.

Say to yourself, “God lives here.” Which so awesome. Let Him rule. 

Amen and amen.

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Take This Job and Quit It?

One day in the land of Matthew 4:18, Jesus is walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He sees two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living.

Wait a second!  Do not read ahead! Don’t gloss over that because it’s really significant.

They fish for a LIVING.

You got that? Are you sure? Because it’s a really, really big deal.

This is how they pay the bills, bring home the bacon, earn their keep, support themselves (ok-not bring home bacon-they are Jews. That doesn’t happen until Acts 10:13. Still way before I was born-praise God! Bacon=happiness). 

that-face-you-make
Dumb. But kind of funny.
They fish. It’s a job just like the job you have that pays the mortgage/rent, the electric bill, pays for gas and food for you.

So Peter and Andrew are doing their JOB.

Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men!”

I can imagine many possible excuses people might offer. Sure Jesus! I’ll get right on that-

  • When I’m done making a living!
  • When I’m done paying the bills!
  • When I’m done catching all these big fat scaly stinky fish!
  • When I’m done taking the fish to town!
  • When I’m doing selling them!
  • When I’m done binge-watching on Netflix!
  • When I’ve paid off the mortgage, got a nice nest egg set aside, the kids are grown, and college is paid for.
  • How about I just follow you on Twitter?

But the Bible doesn’t say any of that! It says something really amazing:

Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Matthew 4:20

As in…they left their JOB at once and followed him. Just think about that!

Peter and Andrew

walked…

off…

the job.

WHO DOES THAT? WHO WALKS OFF THE JOB BECAUSE SOME GUY WITH A MESSIAH COMPLEX SAYS, “COME FOLLOW ME?”

Positively insane. Nobody gives up everything! You pray a prayer, you tell Jesus you love Him, sing songs to Him, and you go to church when:

it’s not inconvenient,

it’s not raining,

it’s not so pretty that you want to get outside.

But they just walked off the job because that’s what Jesus told them to do!

Truly insane. Unless….

Unless what David?

Unless…instead of HAVING a Messiah complex, He really IS the Messiah. Then…leaving everything behind and following Him is the absolute sanest thing you can do!

And because they, “walked off the job” to follow Jesus, they changed the course of history. All of history after this, “following of Jesus” bit would be different than all of history before. They walked off the job to follow the one who divided history (BC and AD, or if you’re a secularist, BCE, and CE-sorry! Jesus still divides it).

So…Jesus may not be calling you to quit your job (although He may!).  But guaranteed 100%, Jesus bogatais calling you to follow Him in some real and tangible and concrete ways that change your world and life, for the rest of your life. He’s calling you to put all of your trust and faith in Him – as your Lord – King – Savior…and your Leader.

 

 

Follow Him.

Amen, amen.

#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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