Archives For Mercy

Armpit Verses And Lights

October 2, 2012 — 2 Comments

light house
Luke 6:27-38
27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

I’m a dedicated hunter. I get up early during hunting season, and head out the door long before the sun comes up. I love it. One of the places I hunt is way out in the country and just getting there in the dark of the night is quite difficult. There is one area of road that is about 5 miles long near the land I hunt and has more curves in it than a Monte Carlo racetrack. I drive slow and careful as the headlights light the way. Nothing is odd about that because that is what you do on a country curvy road in the dark.

Now let me share a situation and then submit a question. Suppose I was driving that same road in the dark of the night and decided to turn my lights off and navigate the road in the dark. What would you think about that decision?

You would think I’ve lost my ever-loving mind. You would think I was mad because the natural thing that is going to happen sooner or later is…I’m going to run off the road and wreck. Just like turning my light off on a curvy road in the country would be crazy, so is turning your light out on an enemy.

Jesus said in Matthew 5 “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father which is in heaven.”

When you and I turn our light out on our enemies, it’s only a matter of time until we run off the road and bring dishonor to God’s love.

It’s our call and duty as Christians to shine our light on the just and the unjust because it’s the God thing to do. We know deep down these verses are the right way to live, the kingdom way to live, but knowing and doing are two different things. So what does God have to say about loving our enemies?

Some verses in the bible I call armpit verses. We prefer to put deodorant on them and move on. Luke 6 is a great example of some of these armpit verses. However, Don’t look at that passage as a list of moral rules to put a check beside of when you achieve them from time to time. Instead, look at it, as it truly is- the true character of God and the character that should be in his children.

N.T. Wright once said this, “Think of the best thing you can do for the worst person, and go ahead and do it. Think of what you’d really like someone to do for you, and do it for them. Think of the people to whom you are tempted to be nasty, and lavish generosity on them instead. These instructions have a fresh, springlike quality. They are all about new life bursting out energetically, like flowers growing through concrete and startling everyone with their colour and vigour.”

We are called to love our enemies. We are called to shine our light on the just but we are also called to let it shine on the unjust. Find out more by listening to this weeks message. If you are on a Mobile device you can hear the message by clicking HERE

Did You Hear Jesus Sigh?

September 25, 2012 — Leave a comment

 

earsWhy did Jesus sigh? The definition of sigh is to take a deep audible breath (as in weariness or relief)

Mark 7:31-37 is such a great passage. So much is going on it’s hard not to be overwhelmed with joy when you read it. The people brought to Jesus a man who was deaf and had a impediment in his speech. They begged Jesus to touch him.

The first thing that jumps out at me is the care and concern of the people. They knew Jesus was the answer and they would bring people to him. In fact they would bring people and would begged Him to do something. All through the scripture we see this beautiful pattern of care, this pattern of people bringing other to Jesus but I wonder how much of it happens in our day and age? Do we rely on the “church show”, to bring them in?

Do we look to bring people to Him? Do we pray for our lost friends and love ones to be touched by Him?  After all, the scriptures tell us to go out and compel them to come in so that the house will be full. I wonder…is there much “compelling” going on in Western Christianity?

Next Jesus takes him aside. Now isn’t that just like our amazing God! He pulls us away from the multitude in order to take care of us, to love on us…to heal us. Jesus always had compassion on the crowd but He did His greatest work on individuals.

What was healed?  His ears were opened and his speech was set free. That is what happens to us when God shows up. He opens us open to hear Him and when we hear Him our hearts are changed and our speech is set free to speak of Him.

Finally, the passage says, “He Sighed…”
I’m not sure where I read it or heard it but the reason He sighed was because we were never suppose to be broken or separated from Him. (See Genesis 1:26-31) We were created to live forever as the good creation He created. It was our choice to sin that broke the relationship and it was and is the curse of sin that damages us and this world. There is only one answer…that answer is Jesus.

Well, I could just go on and on but I’ll save it for another time.

Share your thoughts. Leave a comment.

painfultimes

The Library of Congress has over 34.5 million books. (Not including photographs, maps, music and manuscripts.) All of the items make up the story of world history.

If it were possible to read every book, look at every picture, listen to every piece of music, you would discover that even though the world is a grand and beautiful place…something is just not fully right. There is still a lot of pain in the world. But you know…you didn’t need me, or the Library of Congress to tell you that. All you have to do is look around or look within, and pain raises its ugly head

However, in the middle of all of the pain, there’s a truth that points us to a rescuer. His name is Jesus and he said in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

When it comes to pain, we are often given only two choices–fight or flight.

However, there is a third option for a Christ follower. You can take the hand of God, submit to His plan, and walk through the pain, and out the other side. We live in a world were the church will sometimes hurt you. The people of God and life will sometimes hurt you. Even Following God will often bring pain to your life, but following God is the only thing that will eventually do away with all of the pain. Allow the next statement to sit in your heart today and think about it.

The plan of God is more important than your pain, because it’s the plan of God that will eventually take the pain away forever.

 

Do you believe that God has a plan for you life?  Do you feel left out in the desert of pain, forgotten by people and God? What if I told you that God’s plan could include a lot of pain, that it will be difficult, if not nearly impossible to understand in the now, but will eventually work out if you follow Him? Would you still want to embrace His plan for your life? Hagar did!- she felt forgotten; she felt pain, and she felt marginal.

You can read her story in Genesis 16 and 21. She found out that God is the God that sees and hears. Guess what? He sees and hears you also. You are not forgotten and your pain will not last forever.

To hear my message on this topic CLICK HERE.

Resentment

“Resentment and fear are two issues that need to be dealt with before we can begin the process of preparing our inventory. Our resentment toward people, places, and things that have injured us keeps us preoccupied and limits our ability to live in the present moment.”(Friends in Recovery 62)

One of the things I have noticed over the many years of being a pastor is that many people are trapped in the endless cycle of resentment and fear. Often I see it manifest just when someone is getting really close to achieving what they have been attempting to accomplish for a long while. It is like they get right to the finish line and decide to turn to the left or to the right. Just before victory they take off running in the wrong direction while the crowd that was cheering them on stops cheering and looks on in disbelief. It is like they are afraid of success.

I am convinced that the thinking patterns they learned while young children kicks in and they revert back to what they know is safe, instead of pressing forward and crossing the finish line into the unknown, that may or may not be safe. They are simply allow resentment and fear to control them, and it’s not until they break this kind of thinking, that they will truly be free to become all that God wants them to be. It’s my belief they should take responsibility and move pass the comfortableness of wrong thinking and accept the fact they need to stop blaming others for their failures and move forward with God’s help.

I agree with the statement I found in the book that says, “Blaming others for our misfortune, denying responsibility for hurtful behavior, and resisting the truth are behavior patterns we must discard. These particular learned behaviors were developed early in life and have become character defects.” (Friends in Recovery 62)

Tips For Dealing With Resentment And Fear

1. Fear And Resentment Can Be Defeated With God’s love.

The bible tells us that perfect love cast out fear. Therefore, when you accept the love of God, and pass His love unconditional along to others,  you are turning the battle over to God and not carrying it yourself.

2.Letting Go Of Resentment And Fear Is a Decision.

You must stop allowing them to stealing your time. You will never move forward while chained to resentment and fear. Make a choice to walk in the promise that goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life. Picture goodness and mercy as two people behind you cheering you on!

3. Forgiveness Is Powerful

Forgiving yourself and forgiving others will crush resentment and fear. Both are hard to do but never impossible. The Holy Spirit living in you desires both to happen so surrender to His desire, and allow it to supernaturally take place.

What are you thoughts? Share with others by leaving a comment.

casting

You carry what you don’t lay at the feet of Jesus, and the longer you carry it, the heavier it gets. When you carry something that was meant to be placed at the feet of Jesus, the weight sinks into your heart and the real battle begins. The real battle is the war between the Spirit and the flesh. The bible tells us that the Spirit and flesh are contrary one to the other. Allow me to offer an early hint as to the outcome of NOT placing your troubles at the feet of Jesus… you will lose every time.

Maybe you’re out there today, and something troubling has made its way into your heart, and it’s been there a long time. You feel like you can’t go another day, and bitterness has become your closes friend. You’re restless at night and your days are filled with no peace at all. I just want you to know that the power of choice can set you free.

When I choose to hold onto my trouble I place myself in the position that doesn’t humbly submit to the Lordship of Christ. It’s buying into the lie that I can carry trouble without it damaging my soul. The truth is… neither you, nor I, can handle anything without laying it at His feet. So what’s the answer? Read the following Scripture slow and with your heart.

1 Peter 5:6-7"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God,that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."

We need to humble ourselves, and cast all our cares on Him. Never forget, when you cast something, it means you throw it away from yourself. Oh yeah! Don’t forget to cut the line once you cast it on Him. If not, you might just be tempted to reel it back in.

Share with others by leaving a comment.

tipping_for_jesus

Every two years my particular denomination has an assembly to bring us together for meetings and worship services. We literally take over the entire uptown of whatever city we choose. The local restaurants get to serve us three times a day and money is made and of course, that is a great things for any economy. However, while everyone is making money…from time to time, the servers in those restaurants get missed when the tipping is bad.

Many years ago I was at one of our assemblies. I was eating the first night in a very good establishment. The place was packed with Christ followers. Our waitress was doing a great job but you could see frustration on her face. It troubled me, so I asked her, “Is everything okay? You seem upset.” She paused, leaned in close to my ear and said, “There is a religious meeting in town and most of the people in here are Christians and tips are horrible. Why are religious people always the worst tippers?”

I was both shocked and blessed by her comment. I was shocked because as a Christ follower, we should be the best when it comes to leaving tips. I was blessed because I didn’t look like a preacher to her. (insert smile)

I have no conclusive way of saying that Christians are the worst tippers but I can say that many servers in restaurants seem to think so. I’ve asked many over the years while eating and the answer is all most always…religious people.

Okay, so allow me to cut to the chase. I believe as Christians, we should be the best tippers of them all. You just never know how your tipping can open a door for ministry. For example, the restaurant I mentioned I was eating at, I ended up giving  her a really big tip and then decided to eat every meal that week in the same place. The next night she saw my friend and I in line and asked for us. Once we were seated, she shared how thankful she was over the tip we left. We then shared with her we were preachers. She was shocked and smiled. Long story short…by the end of the week after eating there 5 times and getting to know her, I was able to share Christ with her and she accepted Him into her life.

Your tipping is a witness and the better you tip, and the more often you frequent the same restaurant, the more your influence will grow or shrink. My advice to you would be this: think of your tip as a missions offering, and represent Jesus in a lavishly giving way. For years I’ve always tipped 20% or more and I always get the name of the server and if they are available the next time I’m at the restaurant I ask for them by name.

I guess you can see where I’m heading with this one. In other words, the restaurant becomes my mission field and dealing with the same person over and over becomes a great way to built a relationship. If they are a believer, I minister to them by having a  conversation throughout the evening as they serve my family. If they are not a believer I make it my goal to one day win them to Christ.

Finally, if the service is really bad…I tip big anyway. I call it mercy tipping, after all God is merciful to me when I don’t serve Him well. I simply pass it on. Now get out there and tip better…You wouldn’t want baby Jesus to cry would you?

 

Thoughts? Leave a comment.

hand holding rock

Her sin was dragged out of the darkness and into the streets of condemnation. Words of insult and judgment by the men that caught her in the act of adultery drew a crowd around her as she was brought to the feet of Jesus. There, at the feet of Jesus, the crowd waited for the Judgment of Deuteronomy 22:22 – When a man is caught with another man’s wife…they both shall be put to death.

We know the story: Jesus writes something in the sand as  he looks her in the eyes, then he say as he looks at the crowd, “He that is without sin among you, cast the first stone.” One by one they leave.

“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on sin no more.

 TWO QUESTION TO PONDER

What would happen if those outside the faith meet more Christians of mercy than Christians of Judgment?

What would happen if we stop living our Christian faith like its us against the world but instead we embraced a walk of love and mercy among those who do not yet know our wonderful Jesus?

ONE STATEMENT TO PONDER

It’s not us against the world. It’s us in the world but not of the world, loving the way Christ loved.

FOUR WORDS TO THINK ABOUT

MERCY TRIUMPHS OVER JUDGMENT (James 2:13b)

We all know what judgment feels like. It makes us want to fight, to prove our point…to defend ourselves. However, mercy draws our soul and melts our heart to pursue right again. It’s the same with those outside the faith. When we offer mercy to those outside the faith it draws there soul. When we offer judgment and condemnation it causes a fight. Acts of mercy rarely make the headlines in our day and age but they do make the headlines in the Kingdom of God. We need Christian fellowship but we also need friends who are outside the faith that we hang with and walk beside in mercy and not with judgment.

GOD’S MERCY WORKING THROUGH YOU IS MORE POWERFUL THAN JUDGMENT

Look at this scripture where Jesus hangs out with sinners.

Matthew 9:10-13 (ESV)

10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. (A life of mercy draws those outside the faith)

11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples,  “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (The world doesn’t get upset when Christ followers hang with those outside the faith) (It’s the religious that get upset)

12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. (Go to any doctors office. Doctors hang with sick folks)

13 Go and learn what this means, (we learn by going and doing) ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

I END THIS POST WITH A PICTURE TO PONDER

In Exodus we learn of the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat. One of the items in the ark of the covenant was the Law of God. However placed on top of the ark of the covenant was the MERCY SEAT. Blood would be sprinkled on the mercy seat. Now picture the cross of Christ. He hung above us in mercy and He gave his blood for us…MERCY.

MERCY TRIUMPHS OVER JUDGMENT

 

 

 

 

friends-talking-Proverbs 28:23 says, “He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward than he who flatters with the tongue.”

Let’s face it.  Rebuking a friend is hard but I want to remind you that it’s biblical. Many people find it easy to lift others up and we should because not only does it make the other person feel good but it makes us feel good also. However, in the end are we as willing to offer rebuke where and when it’s needed? Well, that my friend is not so easy.

Sometimes I think we value our friendships more than our friends. We will let a friend harm themselves (or harm others) because we’re worried about losing our friendship over a confrontation. We are afraid they won’t like us or that they will be mad at us, so we just never say what needs to be said in order to correct those that we love.

I have found many times in my own life that when I said the hard stuff it was not received very well at first, but given time, the person I had to rebuke would always return to acknowledge that I did indeed speak truth into their lives and they were now very thankful for the hard words I had to say to them.

What’s the secret? You have to be okay with not being liked or feeling that you are not liked for awhile if you are going to rebuke someone in love.

I believe someone out there today reading this post has something they need to say to someone else. You have put it off for a long time and deep down you know you must speak up. I would say today is a good day to obey what you know the Lord as told you to do and trust that in the end, you will find more favor for telling the truth.

Here are a few tips that will help you rebuke a friend:

  1. Don’t shame the person
  2. Don’t rebuke them in front of others
  3. Affirm to them that you truly love them and care for them greatly
  4. Speak straight to the issue and don’t rabbit trail them to death
  5. Offer helpful advice they can do to correct the problem
  6. Show them your heart of grace by affirming you are in their corner

SPECIAL NOTE: When you rebuke the wrong way and mess it all up…rebuke yourself and forgive yourself, then do better the next time. Just saying.

Miley_Cyrus_hair_cut-490x490

“Just a month after tweeting that she loved her new blond hair, Miley Cyrus has chopped it off.” Here

In the spirit of haircuts being talked about all over Google today,  I present to you the Christian Combover.

A comb over or combover, is a hairstyle worn by bald or balding men in which the hair on one side of the head is grown long, and then combed over the bald area.

I wonder if some people try the combover on their Christian walk? Do they know there is a problem in their life, and instead of cutting away the waste, they move the waste around trying to cover up what everyone else already knows is the problem?

Well, for those out there with a combover on their faith, I would recommend a walk over to…

1 John 1:9-10

“9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Confession is good for the soul. Stop hiding what you know you need to get rid of. God waits on your confess, so He can pour out His forgiveness.