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What to do when you are getting rocked by life…

Sometimes I come across material that is so full of wisdom it just needs to be purposefully plagiarized and adapted to fit the shift that I want it to have. It’s been said that Shift Happens! Shift is good. So…I’m shifting Chuck’s article. I just want to give full credit to Chuck Swindoll for all the positive material in this post.

Any sarcastic material is my own doing. By the way, Chuck Swindoll is my favorite of all communicators…WARNING…Sarcasm follows…{If you do not like Sarcasm…please just jump down to the long line that begins the non-sarcastic content of this article} (Disclaimer…for the Church police who are opportunistically looking for people who they think need some behavioral modification… I know you think I should have said Jesus is my favorite communicator, instead of Chuck Swindoll…so, I want to say… Jesus is my supreme communicator, but not my favorite communicator…most of the stuff Jesus says cuts to my heart and convicts me in a hard way and I don’t always like it, so Jesus is not my favorite communicator, but He is my supreme communicator). Hopefully that disclaimer will prevent any members of the BMPD from WRITING ME a christian “ticket”. LOL (Sorry for the sarcasm folks…just gun shy from all the “BMPD” I have encountered in the past year) BMPD…you wonder?

Behavioral
Modification
Police
Department.

How do you know somebody is on the BMPD? You usually can identify the BMPD from the literal badges they wear on Sundays, when they wear their best for God. (If somebody believes you should wear your best for God…shouldn’t they wear their best 24/7 and not just on Sunday?) Some examples of the badges are posted to the right…I removed any church names to protect the reputations.
There are many forms of the BMPD badge…what the badge literally says is not what’s important, the motive behind the reason for even wearing a badge, is what is alarming…but the most dangerous BMPDs are the ones who are the Private Detectives who don’t wear a physical badge. These types have their badge hidden in their heart.

The Private Detectives of the BMPD, have nick names…sometimes fittingly called “Private-eyes” and some have been nicknamed “tricky-dicks”. These BMPDs are people who look just like a regular Christian, but are just undercover private eyes in the religious world. I think it “stinks” for the BMPD members that BM stands for something else other than behavioral modification. I’m not trying to be gross, I’m being literal about the ‘movement’ part. BMPDs cause great “exits” in their local churches and sadly it’s usually new people exiting and getting flushed “down” eternally…because they got treated like poop by someone with a badge at church. (I wanted to type the real word instead of poop, but I really don’t want a ticket from a BMPD).

Some churches are loaded with a higher number of BMPDs. The picture I have inserted to the right and below is a quadrant image I drew of 4 types of churches in the world. Every Church has some love and some challenge. However…the amount of love or challenge directly affects what kind of church it is. As you can see a BMPD loaded Church is a church that is High Challenge and Low Love. This type of church is equipped with quite a few pharisaical, aka BMPD people who really believe you should follow all the “rules” and if you don’t you will be corrected on the spot and sent home…even as a first time guest at church. A Church like Jesus is a church that is High Challenge and High Love. You can explore and study the quadrant to determine what kind of church you are in. Please don’t be a BMPD. Its a powerful thing, but it won’t land you in Heaven. Well…that’s what Jesus said.

This post is not about the BMPDs…its crazy how I let these types take up precious time of mine…and your reading time. Charles Swindoll didn’t reference these people even once in his blog that I’m adapting…He’s 80 something and much wiser and self-controlled than I am. I hope to be more like him someday. I’m working on it. Before I get on with the incredible message of this article, I must say one more thing about the BMPD. Jesus called them names. Oh, yes. He called them Sons of Vipers, White Washed Tombs, Hypocrites, Blind guides and Fools. He warned the Apostles about them often. One BIG example is Matthew 23:1-36. Jesus was brutal towards the BMPD. Well…enough of that stinky subject. If you persevered through that…the rest is really refreshing!
________________________________________________________________________________________

The big question is this…What do you do when you find yourself surrounded by the BMPD in your work/ministry/friendships/Church, etc?

The rest of this post you are about to read is a MODIFIED version of what Chuck Swindoll wrote. I accept full responsibility for all material above and below. To read his exact blog, just copy and paste the following link into your browser and you will see the differences in how I adapted his information. His post does not include anything about the BMPD. My jabs at them just came out of my gift of immaturity. If you are offended by my comments about you…I mean… about the BMPDs, please obey Jesus about what He says in Matthew 18:15 and I will respond accordingly.

Swindoll’s unchanged article link…
http://www.insight.org/resources/devotionals/the-truth-perspective.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DailyDevo+%28Chuck+Swindoll%27s+Daily+Devotional%29&utm_content=FaceBook

The passage that inspired Charles to write what he did in his post is Psalm 119:98–100 (NIV) I typed it below.

“98Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. 99I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. 100 I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.”

So imagine you have recently got a job that has proven to be less than you expected. You prayed for the job, then lo and behold, it opened up. God “spoke!” πŸ™‚ You were grateful. After a few weeks, however, you found that the working conditions…usually caused by people who actually hired you…leave much to be desired. In fact they might even be nightmarish. Furthermore these people might be self titled and self proclaimed christians. Your first and natural response would be disappointment, perhaps even disillusionment and at its worst, Shock and Awe. This would lead to daily irritations and possible arguments. Your life could soon become consumed with negativity, pessimism, and verbal assault. Exit motivation. Enter low enthusiasm and possibly into a dead end. You want to quit, but the world tells us that quitters are losers. (I’m not sure that last statement is a fact…people who finally QUIT picking their nose are not losers…people who QUIT wetting the bed are not losers and…I love the movie line in American Gangster where Denzel Washington is told by a wise old man that “Quitting while you are on top is not the same as quitting!) By on top…I mean…in this instance…before you become the walking mat where BMPDs wipe their feet on you frequently. In my instance, I had a few special circumstances that allowed me to walk from the dead end…but not all have that luxury and can’t quit. So…if you do not quit, because circumstances just won’t allow it…your dead end…puts you into a serious predicament.

I have personally experienced this very situation in the past year. This explains why Chuck Swindoll’s original article resonated with me so much. As I write about my recent experience of a dead end, I don’t write about it with any bitterness and I have forgiven the people and circumstances. I write only from my personal experience in hopes you can glean some earned wisdom from my bad experience that might help you.

So..if you are in a dead end and you “can’t” quit…then instead of getting sarcastic like I tend to do or just quitting like I was, thankfully able to do…

How about trying this…

How much better to apply some basic, biblical principles! Let’s say, instead of wallowing in sorrow or swimming in the cesspool of bad attitudes, you dug deeply into God’s Word, absorbing wisdom, cultivating insight, gaining understanding. You discover from Romans 8:28 that God uses all things for your good, even unpleasant experiences. You also discover from Romans 5:3–5 that God uses difficult times to help us grow mature in faith.

And not only this, but we also choose to thank God in our trials and dead ends, knowing that trials bring about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. We choose to celebrate that “we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. We confirm through our devotion to God 1 Corinthians 10:13 that says God won’t let us go through more than we can actually handle…with the help of Him and others, of course.

This truth gives you a different perspective. You are the Lord’s personal “project.” Its not a fun project, but a very beneficial one. His plan is to develop you into a mature, stable person. He really does have your very best in mind! Nothing is coincidental in the Christian life; all things (even your miserable job because of miserable people!) are tools in God’s hands, and He is lovingly shaping your character. You learn to accept that your job, with all its limitations and irritations and BMPDs, is a perfect place for God to mature you and make you more like His Son. Rather than resist or look for the first escape, you resolve to greet each day as another opportunity to grow in grace toward others and submission to Him. Wisdom helps you look at your situation from His viewpoint.

Then, those who work around you don’t bother you as much because God’s Word has taught you how to see through their surface problems. Or, they may bother you just as much, but it’s like water off a duck’s back! You now see that their verbal assaults are indicative of a deeper problem of inner unrest in themselves. You see how they continue to hurt, but compassion grows in you because you recognize that they have been hurt…thus “hurt people, hurt people. You also learn that you need not take their abuse personally, for it really isn’t directed at you personally. It’s their release, their panic, their insecurity. Soon, your insight has cushioned you from an ugly, irritating, retaliatory spirit. Instead of arguing with them, you find ways to help your coworkers. You actually pray for them and be like Jesus to them. (Be careful in these relationships…for these very people whom Jesus loved and prayed for and served…killed Him) (To the BMPD…I know Jesus laid His own life down…that’s not my point)

In this new focus, you have now begun to respond to your once-irritating occupation with a positive attitude. Time spent in the Letter of James, for example, has taught you to be very careful about what you say and how you behave before those who don’t know Christ personally. (Q: But, Chuck Swindoll, what if they are Christians and treating you poorly? A:I think Chuck would say, “read 1 Corinthians 5”) Furthermore, in your doing a diligent job regardless of the circumstances, you have gleaned understanding. And to your own great surprise, you have actually begun to enjoy and accept the challenge of your situation because you know it is exactly where the Lord wants you. It is an ideal place for making Christ known through your words and deeds.

Don’t misunderstand. I can’t guarantee that through regular interaction with Scripture you can transform your environment. Some circumstances are beyond help. Believe me, as a pastor, I never rule out the possibility of miraculous, divine intervention, but I have become wise enough to recognize my own limitations of not actually being Jesus…Only Jesus can truly change people. So, I don’t want to create the impression that you can change the world by gaining spiritual understanding. I guarantee, however, that YOU will be transformed. And through your spiritual growth, the Lord may improve your environment a great deal. Regardless, you will be changed. Your attitude will change. Enthusiasm will fill the void created by helplessness and hopelessness.

God’s Word is for you, my friend…I repeat… it’s for you! There is no situation that you cannot face if you are really serious about spending time on a regular basis in the Book of books! And a great place to start is Psalm 119, especially if the grind of low enthusiasm, BMPDs, and dead ends have begun to take their toll.

Tomorrow is a new day and I hope the beginning of new you. You and I choose to behave the way we do. I believe we become what we are becoming right now. I’m encouraged that we are reading this together! I pray that we begin to become what this is all about.
What a challenge!


Spiritual Influence is portable…This is new to me.

The last two years of my life has schooled me. I believe education is good, even though the cost can be tremendous. This schooling has caused me to change my ministry position and even my family’s physical location. I naively assumed that my spiritual influence, on the people I influenced in my previous ministry position and physical location, would end as my position and location changed. I was wrong, and so many wonderful people in AZ and FL, this past weekend, demonstrated to me that spiritual leadership does not center around what state I live in or what happens to be the name of the Church we all attend or what position I hold. Earned spiritual leadership is portable and eternal. I am deeply grateful for those who have entrusted to me the function of friend, leader, teacher, pastor, mentor, encourager or any other function of influence that you might have allowed me to earn from you. I am humbled and grateful to be given the chance to continue that influence, wherever I live or whatever position I assume. I certainly am learning from all of you, and I do not see that ever ending. I was reminded this weekend that God has placed the entire world in our hands to influence and inspire. We are the body of influence that is holding the whole world. God has given us the huge responsibility of influencing each other and the whole world. I am looking forward to our continued spiritual journey together through this side of life that will ultimately land us in the presence of our King where we will spend eternity in community with one another on the other side of this life. We are family and location or position will never sever that. Until we gather in Heaven, we must keep our spiritual influence on one another portable. That is Church! I look forward to our continued influence upon one another’s lives. This past weekend was healing and revealing for me and I pray it was for you too. So, as we break out of the huddle and head off to our individual ministry positions and physical locations, let’s keep influencing each other, leading one another, loving one another and taking on the world together. We’ll have plenty of time together when our King is told to return and do His thing. Until then…let’s spread out and influence this world in the mightiest way we can with the short time we have left.


How do I know I’m forgiven and saved?

It is astonishing to me how something as eternally significant as salvation is so erroneously misunderstood and debated. The following rant is the simple truth of what the Bible demonstrates in receiving salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

When we all sinned and separated ourselves from God, starting back with Adam and Eve, we jumped on the bandwagon of independent belief, demonstrating we don’t need God, and therefore traveled this life, on our own, outside of a walk with Christ. This action is sin and God cannot be in relationship with anyone in sin. So, by our choice we separated ourselves from God.

God is the one who wants us back. God is the one who sent Jesus so that the opportunity to be in a relationship with Him again would be available.

Bottom line…God wants all his lost children back. God sent His Son to seek and save the lost. He wants us, His found Children, to work with Jesus in attempting to find all His lost children.

If God is the one who wants the restored relationship with His lost children, why would He make it extremely difficult for them to return? Imagine a Father who lost his child for a long period of time. Then, after searching for that child, finally finding her. However, when he found his lost child, he wouldn’t let her know that she had been found until he first set up a complicated obstacle course. This lost, but now found child, would have to carefully maneuver through his challenging obstacle course to get back to her father, who would now watch how difficult it was for her to run back to him, while he teases her with outstretched arms, waiting for a reuniting hug.

Silly? Isn’t that what Christians do when they fight and argue over how to be saved? I don’t think it’s silly, I think it’s sick. A sick game of setting up obstacle courses for abused and abandoned children trying to get back into the arms of their hero.

Recently, I accepted the Lead Pastor role in a Church. After accepting the position, and traveling 36 hours across the USA to move my family from everything we were comfortable with, I abruptly resigned after just seven weeks. There were multiple and serious dysfunctions that allowed my short effort to permissibly end. One of the lighter dysfunctions was the mentality of the eldership, and some key people in the church whom these elders submitted to, that kept telling me that if an unchurched person walked in the church building wearing inappropriate clothes that I must approach them and ask them to not wear such clothing again. An example of what was inappropriate was brought up and it was something as silly as wearing a “Lady Gaga” T-shirt. I found myself facing my worst nightmare. I was being forced to set up obstacle courses for lost people seeking God. These man made courses were something that lost children of God would have to maneuver through, as they took the risk to enter the doors of a church building, seeking the loving arms of a father who had been calling out to them in the dark for years. I found myself being forced to behave opposite of how Jesus behaved. I had to walk away from such un-Christlike behavior.

Here’s the deal. God is the one seeking. God is the one finding. God is the one saving. God is the one who wants you back. If this is the deal, then why would He make it so difficult to return to Him? The answer…

He doesn’t make it difficult. People do.

Christians need to be shouting from the pulpits and Bible studies, “Relationship! Relationship! Relationship!” But I fear too many circles of people, to make themselves look more fruitful in their lack of seeking and saving the lost, are busi-fying themselves with more knowledge courses and outward appearance courses, and christian obstacle course meetings, all the while eternally lost children of God are screaming, “Somebody Help Me”, and that scream is a lost cry, crying out for their father.

I find it ironic that the best passage in the Bible to teach somebody how to be get back with God is an Old Testament passage. Psalms 51:17…
“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken spirit and repentant heart, O God.”

I know of people who have Heard the Good News of Jesus, Believed Jesus to be Lord of Lords, Confessed Jesus as Lord of their life, and been baptized….BUT…they lacked a broken spirit and repentant heart. Were their actions accepted by God? I’m not the judge. If I were forced to share my opinion, I would say they are not.

I know of people who wore Lady Gaga T-shirts, were guilty of drugs and abusive bodily behavior, people who were so desperate that they had nothing to live off of except what only pigs could eat, who ran back to the Father with a broken spirit and repentant heart, who had not been baptized, or confessed or fully believed…yet were not rejected by God and thus were welcomed into his arms as He wanted to hold his lost child again. The lost now found.

Are they saved? I’m not the judge. But if I were forced to guess, I would say they were.

Salvation is found in a
Broken Spirit
&
Repentant Heart.

The extremists argue with one another about this, as if it’s all supposed to be complicated.

The most extremes are the legalists that believe if you die before you enter the baptism waters you will burn in hell.

The other extreme are the ones I call the epic-gracers (Not to be mistaken with the Church my friend Randy Green started called Epic Grace Church…check them out at www.epicgracechurch.com. Randy Green is one of the best one on one evangelists I know!)

This other extremist type of believers, I’m referring to, believes that people are saved no matter how you live…just say a prayer and you’re good to go, all safe and secure from all alarm.

Neither… as it seems, have broken spirits or repentant hearts.

I am one of the first to show and teach that Hearing, Believing, Repenting, Confessing and Baptism always happened when someone who was lost became saved in the New Covenant of Jesus. But, be it noted, I have participated with people who have done all of those things, but lacked a broken spirit and repentant heart. Outward actions don’t save. Broken spirits and repentant hearts towards Jesus’ blood saves. When one truly recognizes Jesus was brutally murdered because of their sins, it should lead to a broken spirit and repentant heart. God will never reject a broken spirit and repentant heart…no matter what outward actions have or have not happened.

How grateful are you for Jesus dying for your sins?
How broken are you knowing your sin required Jesus’s brutal beating and crucifixion?
How repentant are you? Repentant means 180 degree turn from sin.

Repentance is tricky. Its impossible without a broken heart/spirit.

GOD WILL NEVER REJECT A BROKEN SPIRIT AND REPENTANT HEART TOWARDS JESUS.

Somehow its all been reversed. In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders despised Jesus and fled from Him and the lost flocked to Him.

Today, its just the opposite. The religious magnetically flock to Jesus and the lost don’t want to have anything to do with Him.

Something has changed.
Who changed?
The Holy Scriptures declare in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
One thing I am confident about…Jesus didn’t change.

It’s supposed to be really easy to become Christian…
And
It’s really hard to live as one.

Somehow, certain Christians have made us think that God’s trend is opposite of that. They’ll use the passages of “counting the cost” and “not being people of the world” to make us think that we have to behave before we believe. (I call this ‘theology’ “Behavioral Modification Religion.” )

Believe and belong first. That’s the easy part. The lost getting found!
Once you have been found, now you and I must work on our behavior. Behavior is another word for obey.

Jesus did not say, “if you are lost you must obey me.” One can’t love somebody if you have no relationship with them!
He said…
“If you love me obey me.” John 14:15.

Anyway with the theme above..Its never your job to make sure your brother has his speck removed from his eye before you remove the log sticking out of yours.

Good grief.

I so thank God, that the people in my life did not make me run through an obstacle course to get to Jesus. I wouldn’t have run it. I’d STILL be lost. That’s eternally disastrous.

Please Lord…I beg of you to never allow me to put up obstacle courses in front of the lost children you are wanting back.


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