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The Bible says MY own work is “Skubala!”

When I think of the world and places like…Uganda…Namibia…Romania…Haiti…Guatemala…India…Appalachia…Peru…the Philippines…Russia…Cuba and other places that we must travel to so we may be the hands and feet of Jesus, I shudder at their physical condition, and it seems extraordinary that one person could walk into it all and decide to tackle this thing and actually believe he/she could make a dent.

The reality is…and I’m intensely convinced of this…that the work must be He not I or it all fails. Do you know that if your life’s work is your’s it will die with you. But if it is His work it will live beyond you and continue much good. Name your profession…the above statement is true of it too.

I suppose I should clarify who He/His is above. It is clearly the Holy Spirit through which Jesus Christ sent us as He returned back to His gated community for now and is referenced in Acts 1:7-9, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” This Holy Spirit that Jesus sent…when you and I are dwelling fully in it…will experience the fruit of this Holy Spirit. This fruit is referenced in Galatians 5:22, “The fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness and Self-Control.” It’s fair for me to write that anytime I am not living in the fruit above, I have stepped away from the presence of the Holy Spirit and begun to live in the flesh again. When I am not immersed in the nine fruit of the Spirit mentioned above, I am grabbing life from the hands of God and saying that I am greater than He is…we would never say such a thing, but actions speak louder than words.

The Apostle Paul new this best. The farmboy inside of me can’t help but teach this next paragraph in it’s truest form! Paul says in Philippians 3:8 that any gain based upon his own work failed to endorse Christ alone as the source of good. As Paul wrote this, he wrote it in a way that the translators of the Scriptures have determined too controversial to write in their new translations for fear of upsetting the BMPDs of life. Click the following link to find out what I mean by a BMPD…it’s a blog post titled, “What to do when you are getting rocked by life.”)

These politically correct translators have used the word “Rubbish/refuse” in Phillippians 3:8. But in the King James translation, it is called what it is, DUNG…but even King Jimmy’s translation was not the word The Apostle Paul literally wrote and used. He literally used the word “Skubala.” This word skubala is not used anywhere else in the entire Bible. The exact translation is not rubbish or dung or refuse…it is literally translated, “shit.” So, the following is the exact translation of what Paul literally wrote in his letter to the Church in Philippi back in the 50’s…and I don’t mean the 1950’s. Here’s the exact translation of the word Skubala…

“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them shit, that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8

I wish the translators had the guts of the Apostle Paul to say it like He said it. I think that passage would catch our attention much better and aid us in knowing what our own work…when we do it on our own power…really is. Can you imagine being in the Philippian Church when the Pastor stood to read this new and exciting letter from Paul. They must have been anticipating this letter’s arrival and when it arrived, word would have gotten out about it, and a big crowd would have gathered for Church to hear it read! I would have loved to at least been a fly on the wall when the Pastor arrived at this sentence! I wonder if there were gasps?!

Are you building your own work…Church/school/law firm/pharmacy/accounting practice/football team/garbage truck driver/plumber/mission work/etc…with your own Skubala…or is it all coming through Jesus Christ…Lord of Lord’s….King of King’s…whom someday will return to judge the living and the dead. When He returns on that day…He will not arrive in Love and gentleness…He came in love the first time some 2000 years ago. He is coming back…and after paying the huge price to earn the title, “All-Authority-One”…with His arrival the Skubala is going to hit the fan. Make sure your “work” is done through the name of Jesus Christ! Period.

Build through Jesus and Him alone. Whatever you think is yours…it’s not…it belongs to the King.

So….I must become less…He must become greater. You too.

In every detail of your life…please be sure to put this sign in the right place…..

….and NEVER forget what the Apostle Paul wrote just after calling His own works, “Skubala,”

“I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength!” Philippians 4:13

Bring on the world and all it’s Skubala…Jesus is in us and now we must be off to Ends of the Earth! There is a lot of work to be done!

Let’s Go!

Love ya,
Trent Renner


Hydrate — Winning from the inside 36 (Matthew 7:7-11) Ask, Seek, Knock

7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.Matthew 7:7-11 NLT

This passage from Jesus has caused a lot of wonder in the minds and hearts of Bible readers. I think this teaching of Jesus’s has caused anger in the hearts and minds of those who have begged God for things, but the prayers seemed to go unanswered. If this teaching has caused frustration and wonder in your heart and mind, I hope the following thoughts will provide some answers and explanations. I cannot promise that you will still not be frustrated.

I want to first add a disclaimer. Anytime you and I ask, “Why?” to God…we are more than likely going to be left hanging. I think on rare occasions God provides the answer as to why something happened…but not until the person affected looks back with 20/20 hindsight.

So, it seems in this teaching of Jesus’s, that He is encouraging us to be persistent in our asking. In a Hydrate Devotion to come later, I will be writing in regards to the parable Jesus taught about a Persistent Widow. If you do not want to wait for that devotion, then I encourage you to go ahead and turn to Luke 18:1-8 and compare it to this teaching of Jesus’s.

It seems that persistence pays off. However, if persistence pays off, then why do Children in Africa starve to death everyday? Why does the little girl being abused each evening by her foster parent not get what she is begging for? Why did my family members daughter die of Cancer at 15? I imagine you and I could record a thousand more “why” questions if we worked at it. But I already mentioned that we shouldn’t be asking God why He does some things and doesn’t do other things.

Check out a couple other Bible verses about this subject matter. Hopefully after reading them, you might have a few more answers as to why some things you ask for don’t happen. First let’s look at James 4:2-3. “You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

Also:1 John 5:14
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

These passages provide some answers that help us understand why we sometimes do not receive what we ask for. Wrong motives are a key reason. The other is that we are asking for something that is not in God’s will for us. I hate that reason. But, it’s a biblical reason and thus I accept it.

On a side note, when it comes to this topic, do you have a friend in your life that you can discuss these issues with? A friend who you trust enough to tell you whether or not they think your motives are pure. A friend you trust enough to tell you whether or not they think your asking is in accordance with God’s will. I have found that the only way I can have a friend in my life like that is to first be one. It’s always good to have a trusted friends opinion. If you are like me, then it’s easy to be blind to my own ambitions and will. Having a few trusted friends who are not afraid to share their opinion about you to you will always be beneficial in being self aware about your own motives.

There are no easy answers to this subject. My advice is to never stop asking what it is that you desire. There is no harm in asking. However, if you are desiring a 30 foot yacht to show up in your driveway or for the next 500 million dollar power ball winning ticket to be in your hands when they announce the numbers…you might do well to remember than nearly 20,000 children will die of starvation today around the world. It might help you to understand God’s will with more clarity when you recognize that today there will be about 154,000 deaths around the world. Now think about how many of those souls are going to Heaven or Hell. What, exactly is it, you are begging for God to give to you? With the stats I just shared, does your prayer still have a chance of being answered in the positive?

If you and I get up each day and pray a prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, it will include this line, “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” If you are praying regularly that God’s will be done, you will find your heart and mind being okay with God answering your prayer with the answer of, “No.”

Are you still looking for answers as to why some things you ask for do not happen? Here are some more…do not forget that the Bible teaches that God is not a control freak. Even though God can do anything He wants, the greatest attribute of God is the fact that He is not a control freak. God’s greatest ability is in the fact that He restrains Himself. I imagine it would be really easy for God to simply force every soul into Heaven for eternity. However, would that really be love? Love doesn’t control or force. Love lays down guidelines and then honors choice. Another reason as to why some wonderful things that should happen, but don’t, is because our world has been cursed by ourselves when we sinned. This curse, beginning with Adam and Eve, has brought about death, disease, injustice and heart ache. Is this God’s fault? Of course not, God is love and He gives freedom of choice. In our freedom of choice there are consequences.

Still looking for other reasons as to why you don’t get what you ask for?

Have you considered there is an enemy of God’s who is trying to steal you from God? The devil is alive and strong and is doing everything in his power to disrupt and destroy your heart, soul, mind and strength. If the devil can win in this venture then he wins in attaining your soul for eternity. The best way for the devil to disrupt your life is to get you to blame God for things that God shouldn’t be blamed for. If the devil can get you angry and bitter towards God, then the rest of the devil’s mission is easy.

If you still aren’t satisfied, as to why God doesn’t just answer your prayer requests in the manner you desire, I would like to share one more. When Jesus taught this subject material in person, He was immersed physically in the world of the Hebrew culture. In this Jewish society, prayer life was typically focused on forgiveness, justice, repentance, soul searching, and self improvement in behavior. It is rare to read old prayers from centuries ago where the subject of the prayer was on material goods, riches or other self pleasing desires. Might it be, when Jesus teaches on this subject material of keep on asking that He wasn’t talking about physical and material goods at all? Might is be, that Jesus is suggesting that you can answer many of your own prayers? How? If your prayers are more like the kind of prayers that took place in Jesus’s time, then your prayer focus would be continually asking God to help you be more like Him. If this is the case, then if you continually prayed to be more kind to others, it will seem your continual focus on being kind will actually answer your prayer and you will find yourself practicing kindness. I like to say, you will become what you are becoming right now. If you spend the next week, continually asking God to give you more patience with one of your children…might it be that your continual focus on patience through prayer, will cause you to become more patient? Nowhere in this teaching of Jesus’s does He say, ask and God your Father will wave His magic wand and give you what you ask for. I think Jesus knows that you and I will become what we focus on. Prayer is focus! Many prayers we pray, if our motives are right and we are praying for things that really matter, then many of our prayers/focus can be answered simply because we are focusing on them.

Again, many of our prayers we pray are just not in the will of God. God isn’t interested in your comfort as much as He is interested in your character! But I sense that some of you are reading this and still not satisfied as to why your loved one passed away from a nasty disease when you begged God persistently to heal them. Well, I answer that by asking, was your loved one a believer? If you answered yes, then I believe that God did heal your loved one. Death for a believer is to leave this earth and join the Father in eternity. That is the ultimate form of healing. The prayer may have not been answered exactly like you wanted, but the person was healed and you will see them again, if you too are a follower of Jesus.

I’m sure there are other reasons I could come up with, but my time is up. I would love to hear from you in regards to other things you can think of as to why some of our prayers seems to not get answered.

I would like to close with this twist and challenge.

How many prayers are being prayed by desperate people right now that you can actually answer? Can you answer the prayers of a hungry person? Can you answer the prayers of the jobless person? Can you answer the prayers of someone praying for a friend to come into their life? etc. etc.
How different would your life be, if you lived it in such a way that your actions were many people’s answered prayers?


What God CANNOT do!

I’m not sure if I’m like other communicators in the fact that I have rhythms of communication focus. Meaning, I have soapbox issues that I stand on as a critical focus of my preaching and teaching and thought process. Sometimes the focus/soapbox lasts only for a couple of weeks. The one I’m focused on lately has been one that has been my focus of thought for nearly a year. In fact, I’m not sure it’s a soapbox, and is instead, the central focus of my life and teachings and will remain so. My current focus has been on the fact that God created two laws that everything in life centers on. The laws I refer to are found in Leviticus 17:11 where God simply says, “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”

Law One: The life of any creature is in its blood.
Law Two: The life blood must be shed in order for atonement/forgiveness.
God’s entire life system is built upon these two foundational laws. Why? I don’t know…Ask God someday…He created the system. I have found that it doesn’t do me any good to fight God and His ways.

Another critical factor and soapbox of mine about God is the fact that God is described as being both Mercy & Justice. I tend to think that God would argue with Himself a lot because of these two bi-polar traits. Justice and Mercy are opposites…God is both. Makes my head spin.

One other critical factor of God is that He is Perfect thus Pure Holiness to the extreme.

These traits create some “CANNOT” factors for God. There are some things that God CANNOT do. Keep following my thought…

So…as history goes…We all sin and fall short of God’s glory. God says when sin happens, He, in His perfection cannot be around sin, so He has to separate Himself from us. The only way we can be reunited with God again is for forgiveness to take place. God’s law above say that can only happen when lifeblood is taken. Meaning….somebody has to die to pay for the sin so atonement can happen. Did you notice that atonement is At-One-Ment?

This is where God’s bi-polarity of Justice and Mercy conflict. God in His extreme MERCY trait chooses for us not to die to pay for the sin and instead chooses His only Son, Jesus.
With Jesus’s death, His lifeblood paid for your sin and mine. Do you see how God’s Mercy trait is fulfilled by letting us live, yet God’s JUSTICE trait is fulfilled because His only Son died? Mercy and Justice were fulfilled. God’s mercy said, “people can live.” God’s justice said, “Jesus will die in their place.” Then God’s mercy flooded back and God thus mercifully raised Jesus from the dead. God’s justice is going to swing back our way again…how? When God sends Jesus to Judge all of mankind. Justice served. All complete. Mercy to Justice to Mercy and ending with Justice. Every human being given the choice to choose God’s mercy or His justice. It’s your choice. Heaven is Mercy. Hell is Justice. If you go through Jesus, God promises Mercy. If you choose not to go through Jesus, God’s Justice will be served. Both Justice and Mercy are traits of Love. Heaven and Hell will be full of people whom God loves. Love is giving you a choice. You have the freedom to choose the trait of love via Mercy, or you have the freedom to choose the trait of love via justice. Its a pretty simple way of life and it demonstrates a pretty cool God!

Fact…God’s cool and He likes you and He gives you freedom to choose to live how you wish…with consequences of whatever your choice is.

I say all that to make this point. I’ve heard people argue about how incredible God is and they wonder if there is anything that God CANNOT do.

There are some things that God CANNOT do.

1. God CANNOT go against His own law. This would mean that God lacks integrity and therefore would not actually be God.
2. God is perfect…He CANNOT sin.
3. God is love…He proved it by taking the lifeblood of His only Son to prevent you from having to die for your own sins. Thus God CANNOT love you more than He already does…or less. God IS love.
4. Because God is perfect and holy…God CANNOT break His promises.
(BTW…My list of 4…I’m sure is incomplete…so…please add anymore things that you think God CANNOT do in the reply section of this blog post!)

Thinking on these 4 points of things that God CANNOT do…here is a Bible verse to back them all up.
19 God is not a man, so he does not lie.
He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

Numbers 23:19

What are some of the promises of God…. (The list below is not exhaustive…and by all means you don’t have to keep reading to the bottom…However…If you could use some encouragement on the promises of God…below is just a teasing of the greatness of God and some promises that God CANNOT break! I find it easier to follow God knowing that there are some things that He CANNOT do.

Thanks for your time in reading to this point. I am honored.
I look forward to running into you someday and speaking with you about any of these things!

God Bless
Trent…

Some OLD TESTAMENT Promises…

God’s promise to bless Abraham and those that bless the descendants of Abraham.

Genesis 12:2-3
2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

God’s promise to break the bonds of slavery.

Leviticus 26:12-13
12 I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your heads held high.

God’s promise not to lie to you or change His mind on you.

Numbers 23:19
19 God is not a man, so he does not lie.
He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

God’s promise that if you search for Him you will find Him.

Deuteronomy 4:29
29 But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.

Joshua’s testimony that God’s promises in the Bible never failed.

Joshua 23:14
14 “Soon I will die, going the way of everything on earth. Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed!

God’s promise of protection in the Bible

1 Samuel 2:9
9 “He will protect his faithful ones,
but the wicked will disappear in darkness.
No one will succeed by strength alone.

God’s promise to judge us by our hearts not our outward appearance.

1 Samuel 16:7
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

God’s Promise that His love never fails.

1 Chronicles 16:34
34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

God’s promise to heal a nation.

2 Chronicles 7:14
14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

God’s promise of fruitfulness and prosperity

Psalm 1:1-3
1 Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.

NEW TESTAMENT promises of God.

The promise of power from God

Acts 1:8
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The promise of right standing before God

Romans 1:16-17
16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.[a] 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.

The promise that all things will work out for good.

Romans 8:28
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

God’s Promise in the Bible of comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
God Offers Comfort to All
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

God’s promise of a new life in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17
17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

The promise of every spiritual blessing.

Ephesians 1:3
Spiritual Blessings
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.

God’s Promise in the Bible of salvation.

Ephesians 2:8
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

God’s promise to finish the work He started in us.

Philippians 1:6
6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

God’s promise of peace when we pray.

Philippians 4:6-7
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

God’s Promise to supply all of our needs.

Philippians 4:19
19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

The promises of Jesus in the gospels.

Jesus promise of rest.

Matthew 11:28-30
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Jesus promise to find purpose in life.

Mark 8:34-37
34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul?

Jesus promise of our names written in heaven.

Luke 10:20
20 But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”

Jesus promise of eternal life.

John 3:16
16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Jesus promise that He will return for us.

John 14:2-3
2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.


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.


Christian Cannibalism

I recently and regrettably entered into a Facebook thread that I wish I would have never even seen. It was impossible for me to miss. I pulled up Facebook on my computer and it was literally the first post my eyes connected with. I think God wanted me to see it. It disturbed me all day. It reminded me of something that is terribly wrong with our Christianity. I have, in the past, been guilty of it and I think that’s why I am so bothered by it. When I was guilty of it, I was younger, and arrogant, and pretty quick to be critical and I lacked compassion. Let me share a part of what I first read when I set my eyes upon Facebook. It was posted by a Pastor and members of his church followed his lead. Throughout this blog post, anything “blocked in” is an exact quote from the Facebook thread I am referring to.

“I have observed over the years concerning ministry leadership. Accountability is a great thing. The truth is not everyone wants to be accountable to someone. Men do not like to be governed. But I believe if pastors were more accountable to other pastors it would prevent a lot of ungodly behavior and harness the rebellious, independent and selfish inconsiderate attitudes that seems prevalent today. Accountability would mean that you allow someone into your life to question you, to give you wisdom. You give them permission to speak into your life. You cant correct someone you don’t have a relationship with.”

What is written above, in my opinion, is very accurate and right on. Accountability is a great thing. Everybody needs accountability. If the post would have stopped with just what is written above, I would have enjoyed the post and been challenged by it. I would have been encouraged by it. It would have caused me to double check where my checks and balances are and what health they are in. But the author of the post didn’t stop there. The paragraph below is the finishing touch the author chose to express. It is his finishing touches that have inspired this blog post.

“These men cower from true friendships because they want to do it all on their own. They want to be the entrepreneur. They want to say “I did it my way.” Or worse, they are hiding their private sin. If you do try to correct them, they will call you religious, a zealot, a Pharisee. You can’t win with certain people. They don’t want to submit. They don’t want to be accountable to you….they want to be superior. They want to hide the secrets of their hearts.”

The author of the paragraph above is a Christian Pastor. He is publicly writing about Christian Pastors and Christian Ministry Leaders. The second half of the author’s post is highly critical, judgmental and an irresponsible action due to the very nature it is posted for the whole world to read. I completely understand that there seems to be an epidemic level of Pastors having moral failures in our culture today. I am in full favor of accountability. I am not disturbed by the fact that the author of this Facebook thread I reference is screaming that we need more accountability. I’m disturbed, deeply by the fact that the Facebook post I quote above is something that I would fully expect to originate from a secular author, a critical atheist, or at least from Kathy Griffin. If it were written from any of them, it would have been expected, but for this to be posted by a fellow Christian and Pastor is only what I could call Christian Cannibalism at its best. It is said that Christians seem to be the only ones who shoot their own wounded. Why is it that so many Christians are so nasty with other Christians? Why do we bicker about things in such a public fashion. When this happens we only hurt our own cause for Jesus Christ.

The Facebook thread, I refer to, was inspired by the actions of a pastor who was caught in sin and it hit the headlines in the local newspaper. The news of another failure brought the cannibals out for a fresh bite of fallen Christian flesh.

Sin is appalling, by no means does my post make light of any kind of sin. I give no excuses for sin. My post is about the sin being committed by a group of people who are publicly condemning a fellow Christian for his own sin. It is no surprise to anybody that everybody has sinned and falls short of God’s holy standard. The Bible confirms this in Romans 3:23. However, what is actually more appalling to me is public judgement and shaming of Christians by fellow Christians. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am very familiar with the passages in 1 Corinthians 5 about being commanded by Paul to judge one another as Christians. What is disturbing to me is doing it before the eyes and ears of the unchurched on Facebook. Paul actually warns of such cannibalistic behavior in 1 Corinthians 6:1

“If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?

The passage above is technically referring to lawsuits, however, the principle of the matter is the same. I think that Paul is saying, “air out your dirty laundry privately, please don’t do so in front of unbelievers.” To take it even further, Jesus commands us in Matthew 18:15 to personally/privately confront a person who has offended us. Jesus said that if the offender doesn’t listen, then take two or three others with you, if the offender still doesn’t respond then go with the elders of the church. If there is still no change, after the privately grouped confrontation meeting, then Jesus says to treat the person like a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. By the way…HOW DID JESUS TREAT PAGANS AND CORRUPT TAX COLLECTORS?

The Facebook post written by Christians that took a fallen Christian leader and rubbed his face in the mud publicly, is simply what is called Christian Cannibalism. It is epidemic amongst Christians and if Jesus is to ever use us effectively, we must stop this disgusting eating habit.

As I, regrettably, tried to squelch the cannibals from continuing their public feast, I found myself the target of their starvation. The group didn’t know who I was, but the Pastor did. The group accused me of not living in the real world. They said, without knowing who I was, “that I didn’t have clue and obviously had never been hurt by a Christian leader before, and that if I had, I would be in full agreement with them. They said, I “lived in a different world than they did.” My gut hurt from that response, because I have partaken, erroneously, in christian cannibalistic feasts back in my stupid days. I am glad that my heart hurt as a result of this Facebook thread, because it verified that I have grown in my lacking areas of compassion and wisdom, and it hurt me to see this group repeating mistakes that I wish I had never made. One lady typed into the Facebook thread…

Too many people have left church because of corrupt leaders! Thank God there are still godly ones!

Again…I do not question the truth of her Facebook comment. It just chills me to imagine what unbelieving bystander might be reading the cannibalistic frenzy, and what they might be thinking about how Christians behave and treat one another…especially the wounded and fallen. The world knows that Christianity has dirty laundry, and it doesn’t help anyone, when the Christians want to hang that dirty laundry in everybody’s front yard, and then yell at each other from their front porches while their unbelieving neighbors watch. Its a freak reality TV show, just minus the TV. The lady’s who I quoted above about too many leaving because of corrupt leaders, seems alarmingly blind to the dangers of her own behavior and its effect on people who are checking out the church. The pot seems to be calling the kettle black.

What is shocking to me, and curiously has me asking a question of the lady of the last quote, is, “how does she know her pastor is one of the “godly ones.” Didn’t the congregation of the fallen pastor, believe he was “one of the godly ones,” before he got caught in his sin?

Its a whole other blog post for another time, but the members of the Church have struggled with loyalty to people and pastors way too often instead of keeping their loyalty and followership on Jesus. He’s the only who can really be declared, “Godly One.” The rest of us…well, not so godly.

When I asked the group to be more kind to the fallen Christian leader, I mentioned that it seemed fair that Christian leaders have a special target on their backs that the devil loves to shoot at. Christian Pastors are high on the devil’s hit list. I typed, that it made sense, to pray for our Christian leaders, especially the fallen ones, and not publicly attack them. That only seemed to fire up the Christian mob even more, one lady gripped her fork and knife and licked her lips for another bloody bite and replied…

oh yes! blame it on the devil… boo hooo hooo! the devil made me do it!

There was no good in the Facebook thread I was engaged in. I immediately went to each post I had typed and removed myself from the thread.

I don’t have some creative line to end this post. I’m saddened by it all. The older I get the more I recognize that we all need Jesus stronger and stronger living inside of us. God never intended the world to be this way, and God commanded his followers to never behave this way.

If I were the devil, I would be targeting the Pastor who started this Facebook thread and who also has a very diligent and passionate and “hungry” following. If I could get this pastor to screw up too, then all his followers will be so heart sick that I would win some huge battles in striving to pull people from Jesus.

We must stop following people, and simply appreciate each others gifts within the body of Christ. I have personally experienced what happens when a large group of people put their faith and hope in me as a pastor and then the instant I am gone from the scene, it all falls apart. The solution for every Christian is to keep our eyes on Jesus. He is our Lead Pastor!

Most of all…what must stop…is the cannibalistic behavior amongst us as Christians. Jesus warns us about not being able to get into the Kingdom of Heaven if we have hate towards our Christian brothers and sisters. The public bashing of each other must stop. We must handle ourselves like Jesus commands in Matthew 18:15. We must forgive one another and carry one another’s burdens.

Jesus also commands us to treat others like we would like to be treated. If I blew my credibility because of sin, I sure would hope that people would not publicly bash me on Facebook. Would I deserve it? Yes. But does that make it right? No. I would hope that my Christian brothers and sisters would surround me and privately kick my butt and at the same time love and restore me in whatever amount of time it would take.

As Christians we must stop the cannibalism. We must stop shooting our wounded. The Bible says, that we will be known by our love.

Since I’ve been quoting the great Apostle Paul throughout this post, it is fitting to finish with one more of his writings. Its Colossians 3:16-17, “16Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17And whatever you do or say, (or type in Facebook threads), do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”

I love you, and I commit to do my very best to always demonstrate my love for you.
Be patient with me as I continue to get better at doing it.
I will work on being patient with you.
Deal?