Archives For condemnation

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Standing before my Heavenly Father on that great last day will be full of Joy as my answer for living in His eternal kingdom will be, “Jesus.” You can’t build eternal life on anything other than God. Any other foundation is faulty and will produce a sure fall.

The way is narrow for a reason. It is narrow because He loves you so. He left no room to over-think eternal life. The words of His grace have called to each of us, “”I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

John 3:17 teaches that God didn’t send His Son to condemn the world. Instead, He sent His Son that the world might be saved through Him. We didn’t need condemnation; we needed salvation. We were already under condemnation because of unbelief. However, when we believe on Christ and turn to Him in repentance, condemnation is washed away.

The hope of the believer is the Resurrection. In our resurrected bodies We will at last be fully human as He has purposed from the beginning. We will reflect the image of God perfectly and forever. One day, heaven and earth will come together forever and His glory will flood the universe. I hope to see you there.

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Don’t mute Jesus. Excel in making Him known through loving the unlovable. Jesus never chose sides. He loved the world. He hung on the middle cross loving both the one on the left and the one on the right. He chose them both, but only one chose Him that day. He chooses everyone that everyone might have the chance to repent and turn to Him in surrender. 2 Peter 3:9b teaches that God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

The only division Christ came to bring was to a division that points all of humanity to a decision for Him or against Him. He did so because choosing Him or rejecting Him is the only eternal choice that really matters in this age, or the age to come. You must point humanity to the middle cross every day of your life through your actions and your words. People in our world are hungry to belong. They are hungry and thirsty to be heard, valued and love unconditionally.

Pointing humanity to the left or to the right will never satisfy the hole in their lives. Pointing them to the middle cross is the only answer. In John 6 Jesus speaking to the crowd said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Jesus is still offering that call to the world today. He doesn’t offer it through himself (his physical presence) anymore because He sits at the right hand of the Father waiting to return. However, he still offers it through us, His children by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As Christ followers,  you and I have the Spirit of God living on the inside of us seeking to serve and rescue the world. The rescuing of the world doesn’t happen by following the media, or by choosing the left or right. Rescuing happens by choosing to obey the command of love, and pointing the world to the middle cross where Jesus stretched out His arms wide to embrace everyone who would hear.

Will you obey and follow His leading, or will you be a quencher of the Spirit? Will you mute Jesus today by choosing the left or the right or will you live for Him and promote Him today by choosing the middle? The middle cross is still the only answer for the world because Jesus used it to defeat evil forever. Jesus turned an ugly cross of Rome into a vision of beauty that rescues the world.  His crucifixion was the greatest act of love ever accomplished for humanity, and it’s still the only path that leads us home.

Let There Be

July 19, 2013 — 2 Comments

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I find it perfectly beautiful that God didn’t curse the darkness and chaos of creation to call it forth. He simply spoke in perfect love, “Let there be…”

There is a “let there be” moment in every life of chaos we encounter.

It takes time. God didn’t speak to the creation in just one day.

Let us never forget there is eternal life waiting to be called forth in every dark corner of the world and yes, even your community.

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I’m not a big fan of cursing the darkness. As a Christ follower,  we should be primarily concerned with being salt and light. While it’s true, the Bible calls us to reprove the works of darkness, reproving darkness and cursing the darkness are two different approaches entirely.

Cursing the darkness is throwing condemnation at those who are outside of Christ, while reproving darkness is shining our light as to awaken the sinner from their sleep. The first is done in the same spirit Jesus rebuke James and John for when they wanted to call fire down on those who rejected Christ. (See Luke 9:54)

The latter is done in the Spirit of love that understands that those outside of Christ are under condemnation already, and we have no need to throw more their way. (See John 3:18) If we are to win the world to Christ, we must do so in the greatest power know to man, which is the love of God.

Hate never reached or rescued anyone, but love has proved time and time again to rescue the most hardened heart. Jesus died to prove love real. We are called to do more than talk about grace; we are called to demonstrate grace to everyone. Yes, Even the ungrateful and evil. (See Luke 6:35)

In Ephesians 5,  we are called to take no part in unfruitful works of darkness. We are told to expose them. We expose them by  letting our light shine, and be visible, not by trying to curse the darkness and win a religious argument. When we love like Christ, His light shines and awakens the sleeper from darkness to light.

Many Christ followers need to return to trusting in the love of God to win the lost. We need to  stop trying to win them by persuasive arguments of men, arguments of condemnation.

Allow me to say it again, Hate never reached or rescued anyone, but love has proved time and time again to rescue the most hardened heart.

The Ugly Grudge Bucket

February 21, 2013 — 4 Comments

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There is just something ugly about a Christ follower carrying grudges. Carrying around that proverbial bucket filled with ugly is a laborious task to keep doing. In fact, not only is it laborious,but also it grieves the heart of God. We are supposed to be people of forgiveness.

Grudges lead to nowhere good! Grudges damage everything. Grudges will hurt you from the inside out and will produce a wedge between you and your fellowship with God. Letting go of grudges and moving beyond them is the only godly option.

Letting go of grudges can prove to be difficult. Let’s face it, when you have been hurt, it is hard to let go. Fear often plays a role in us not letting go because we don’t want to ever be hurt again. Therefore, we hold on to the grudge and keep our guard up. As right as that may feel, you and I know deep down inside it’s just downright wrong.

You can only be free when you forgive. Otherwise, you are in a prison of your own creation. You are letting the grudge be your Lord instead of Jesus. Anger and frustration control you more than you know. However, you would do well to remember Ephesians 4:26-27 – And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

Grudges are nothing to play with. Grudges can take you down a path you never thought you would go. You might do something you will regret forever. Turn before it’s to late and you jeopardize your reputation and the position you carry as a Christ follower.

Holding on to a grudge is not done in a vacuum. The longer you hold a grudge the more you will entice others into thinking about the person you are angry at in the same way you do, then you become the blind leading the blind.  Read with your heart the following verses and enjoy the rest of your day.

Hebrews 12:14-15 – Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.  Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

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Those outside of Christ have a perception of you. They know you are a follower of Christ; but how do they label you? Do they define you by all the beautiful life-giving things you are for, or do they define you by all the things you are against?

I once heard it said, “It should break our hearts that often we are known more for what we are against than what we are for, for who we have excluded than for who we have embraced.”

Years ago when I gave my life to Christ, I became part of the youth group at the church where I surrendered my life to Christ. It was an enthusiastic group of kids. They loved God very much. However, there was one thing that confused me much.

They spent a lot of time after the message in the altar praying. Now of course there was nothing wrong with that but it was some of the prayers I heard that confused me. The prayers didn’t confuse me because they were wrong. I think they confused me because they seemed incomplete. The prayers were one-sided prayers.

I would often hear prayers of repentance over sin they had committed in their lives. Of course,  there is nothing wrong with that because it’s the right thing to do. However, I would also hear prayers of repentance over things that were not sin. I’m not sure why they did that, but I can only assume it was motivated by the desire to be holy and closer to God. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with that, other than you’re repenting over something that doesn’t need repentance.

The thing that was missing were prayers that would accompany them out of an altar into the darkness of their world with the love, grace and mercy of Christ as their battle cry. Instead, I often saw these same kids walk into the darkness preaching their convictions onto those outside the faith. Therefore, many of them became known for what they were against, instead of what they were for.

I once heard Billy Graham say, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.” I love that! I don’t have the ability to convict anyone. I do have the ability to bring guilt to someone but that not the same as the conviction the Holy Sprite brings. I much rather leave the task of drawing the heart of the outsider to Christ in the hands of the Spirit of God.

I don’t have the right to judge the outsider. That’s the job of God when He sees fit to do so. (Judging one another in the church is for another post) However, I will share just one scripture. 1 Cor 5:12, “It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.”

It’s my job and your job to love! When we love and show God’s love to the world it melts and convicts the heart of the outsider. When people met Jesus, they didn’t walk away with an opinion of what He was against. (Well, the religious Pharisees did because they needed to be shook up) When people encountered Jesus, they walked away hopeful because of what He was for.

So, allow me to ask you one last time. Those outside the faith, Do they define you by all the beautiful life-giving things you are for, or do they define you by all the things you are against?

Live like Jesus. Love like Jesus and He will change the world through your witness.

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Matthew 9:11 “And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?'”

 

The religious folk always speak up, don’t they? Their questions are always self-righteous. Their questions always have a built-in motivation to separate the Christ follower from the darkness.

What if God never intended us to be separate from the darkness? What if instead, God wants us to bring light into the darkness? After all,  It’s not like God is afraid of the darkness. Psalm 139:12 declares, “even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

When was the last time you invited someone who is just rude, crude, and vile to have dinner with you?

I much rather look at my life not so much as a person who avoids darkness at all cost, but rather, I consider my life as a carrier of God’s light, marching through a dark world picking up broken people and showing them the King.

Have a great day; darkness is calling and I must eat with the sinners. I’ll be in good company. Jesus will be there.

P.S. How did Jesus answer the self-righteous?

Matthew 9:12 “On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

You can only LEARN WHAT THIS MEANS by going and doing. Just saying.

 

You are fired!

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

No one wakes up in the morning and says, “I hope I get criticized today.” None of us pursues criticism, but criticism has a way of finding each of us.  We each love positive feedback that lifts us up and encourages us. However, along with positive feedback, there is a place for criticism in our lives.

As a pastor, I get my share of uplifting feedback, and I’m grateful when it happens. It’s nice to know you are loved, cared for and that something you have said or written has touched someone’s life in a positive way. Nevertheless, criticism finds it way to my doorstep also. I don’t have  a criticism shield that protects me from hard words, but I do have a way of navigating strong and sometime hash words.

1. Fast answers mostly make it worse

When I first hear or receive criticism, I tend to get defensive. I can feel hurt and anger start to gain a foothold on my heart. Therefore, I don’t answer the criticism fast. I take time to hear it again, read it again, and think through it. I want to first find any truth in the criticism that I can grow from. You can’t find the truth in criticism fast. You must find it slow.

2. I write what my flesh would like to say

I have fun with this one. I defuse my anger and hurt by GOING OFF in writing. I write strong in your face stuff. I respond like I’m in a war. I keep writing until I begin to laugh with just how silly my words of defense are. Once I’m done with writing, I delete it or throw it away.

3. I try and give the other person grace and pray

Often we only see criticism as all about us. However, that is just not the case. The other person might be condemning me because they are just hurt and needed to deflect their angry and pain toward another person. Therefore, I read the criticism again and look for pain that might be in their life. Then I pray for them. It’s hard to stay mad at someone you pray for.

4. I respond until its time not to respond anymore

If I respond I ask them question of clarification. I ask them question that help me to see their side. I can’t fully turn a situation around unless I really have a handle on what they are truly trying to say. If they answer back in a calm and mature manner, then I keep the conversation going. If they take it to a more ugly level…I stop responding and move on with my life.

doubt

If you have ever had a friend, or a family member doubt the faith, you know how disheartening that can be. It cuts your very soul. In some cases, your friend or family member simply doubts something in the bible, but in other cases, they may even depart from the faith altogether. It hurts to see this happen, and it give rise to many emotions inside of you. In fact, many of those emotions, if not submitted to the Lord, can damage the one doubting, if unleashed on them improperly by you.

Here, are some things to do when doubt has captured your friend or family member.

1. Keep your emotions on the altar

Take all your angry feelings, and leave them on the altar of God. He can handle your pain better than you can. Worship Him until the feelings of hurt, anger, and betrayal slip away.

2. Trust that God is still asking questions through them

Even John the Baptist doubted at one point in his life, and sent word asking if Jesus was really the one. Once He heard the right answer, he was unchained from doubt, and moved on in His faith. All great men and women of God have doubted at some point in their walk with Christ.

3. When they become unfaithful, God doesn’t

2 Timothy 2:13 tells us, “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” God is faithful and will continue to work in their lives, even when they have stopped moving forward with God. You must remember, God loves your friend or family member more than you ever can.

4. God can move mountains

What is impossible for man is never impossible for God. He can move doubt over the cliff in their life in a moment of time. Mighty to Save by Hillsong says this,
Savior
He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever
Author of Salvation
He rose & conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

5. Finally, my favorite verse that many forget about.

MERCY! Jude 1:22 tells us, “22 And have mercy on those who doubt;” You must never forget that mercy wins over judgment. When you want to give judgement to the one you love…GIVE MERCY

God bless you
Pastor Steve

Sex Was God’s Idea

October 12, 2012 — Leave a comment

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One of my favorite places in the Bible is Genesis 1:31 “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” When God creates anything, it’s good, it has design, and it has a purpose. There is just no way around that beautiful truth.

The trouble then, is not with God, but with humanity. Mankind has a history of taken what God has created and set purpose to and messing it all up. We have a way of taking good things and making bad things out of them for our own pleasure and purpose. When we do that, we are making an idol of self to worship, instead of worshiping only God.

Okay then! Let’s see a show of hands. Who out there likes sex? Wow! I knew it, that’s a lot of hands up. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed. Sex is awesome. God created it, and therefore, it is very good. However, the key to keeping it good is to keep it pure in the context of God’s given standards. When sex is taken outside of God’s blessings, it becomes damaging.

Sex was meant for marriage

Sex in marriage was God’s idea. To debate with that truth is to only be arguing with God. If you want, go for it, but know this…you’re not going to win. Scripture declares to each of us in Proverbs 16:25, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” That’s pretty straightforward. I’ve often said, “What you believe matters, because what you believe determines how you will live.” You are either living in God’s will or outside of God’s will. There is no middle ground.

When God created sex it was to populate the world. In other words, it was for procreation. Adam and Eve were told by God to “be fruitful and multiply.” The way you multiply is to have…wait for it…wait for it….SEX. Another benefit of sex was that Adam and Eve could experience intimacy the way God intended for intimacy to truly be. Please make a note in you heart at this point that sex was placed in the context of one man and one woman. Sex was placed in the context of marriage.

Allow me to throw in a few side comments the bible speaks of. (You can read them on your own)

1. God’s word says to flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18)

2. God’s word says not to commit adultery (Exodus 20:14)

Sex was meant for marriage because it’s the way God has set it up. It has been said by many that God’s purpose and design for sex are impossible to be achieved outside of marriage. I would fully agree with that summation.

The damage of having sex outside of marriage can be both physical and relational.

1. Sexually Transmitted Diseases

2. Unwanted Child

3. You place a wedge between you and God.

4. You damage your testimony

5. You will carry memories of sex outside of marriage into marriage. (Can be a colossal problem)

So what if you have messed up already?

1. Take it to God and ask Him to forgive you.

Repent of your sin and turn your back on it. He is full of mercy and grace. He took all your condemnation on the cross.

2. Move forward without guilty in your walk with Christ

In my book, The Descent to Compassion, I deal with the Woman caught in adultery. Jesus forgives her and then tells her to, “Go and sin no more.” I love that! He calls it sin, and then gives her grace and mercy.