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Power, Secrecy and a Lack of Accountability…

I was watching the news over a lunch break just a few moments ago and couldn’t help but notice, through sheer repetition, Jay Carney, President Obama’s Press Secretary saying, “The President believes that the Press should have unfettered & balanced freedom to information so as to honor the first amendment rights of the Constitution, anything else would be inappropriate.”

I’m grateful to know that our constitutional rights are being protected and valued by our leaders of this great country. I do worry about its validity though. Why? Not because I may or may not be a fan of this administration…I pray for it daily, but because I believe deeply, that if you or myself have to keep repeating something publicly, the only persons we may be trying to convince is ourselves.

Does Martha Stewart have to publicly say that she is a great cook?
Does Michael Jordan have to publicly say that he is a great basketball player?
Does Billy Graham have to publicly say that he is a great evangelist?
Does Mother Theresa have to publicly say that she is compassionate?
Does the Miami Heat have to say that they will win the 2013 NBA Championship?

The answer is no, to all the questions above. Why? Because it is obvious. Actions speak louder than words.

In the past I have encountered individuals and groups of people who hungered for their personal agendas to be protected. I have worked through forgiveness for these tragic situations and now have the privilege to be able to write about lessons learned and observations made as I look back now with 20/20 hindsight. I am grateful for you, as you read this, for you have granted me such a privilege of writing, because—well, you are reading this. 🙂

In the multiple accounts I am referring to, I have noticed a similar pattern in each. First, an unspoken and obvious desire to have no accountability or responsibility when something goes wrong. Second, a hunger for power. And third, a hunger to pursue selfish ambition. By the way, ambition is not a sin. The Bible doesn’t warn us against ambition. Jesus was ambitious. What the Bible warns us of, is selfish ambition. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition.” What is the difference between ambition and selfish ambition? One promotes the progress of self at the apathy towards others. Personal agendas are very dangerous. I might add, personal agendas without accountability grow into forms of devastating evil.

Do a self check right now. This is hard to do when you think you do no wrong. I confess that I have had times in my life where I felt I could do no wrong. The ability to confess that fact is the very act that cleanses that sin. So, I say all that to say, those who need to do a self check the most, won’t…because they don’t think they need it.

Self-Check Time. Is there something in your life that you keep telling yourself or publicly declaring? You will notice it by its sheer repetition. I have repeated to myself in the past, “These people will like me”…and I had to keep telling myself such. Why? Because I really didn’t think people would like me for who I was. It was just a deep insecurity that I grew up thinking. I played on a basketball team in college that was lead by a coach who kept saying that we were a united team, while allowing a couple of players to travel on their own on B-ball trips in their own vehicle. (Not coach Rupe…in case some are wondering) It was clear we had unity problems on and off the court. Yet, the coach kept saying we were a united team? He was only trying to convince himself, we all knew better. I have encountered people who believed the best thing that could happen to their company was simply making sure their presence remained in the company for as long as possible. Who were they trying to convince? I have encountered a group of people who kept telling themselves and me, that they had to have the power. Who were they trying to convince and what was their agenda?

When you hear a preacher, continually harp on an issue…it’s is likely that he/she is struggling with it him/herself.
When you hear a Press Secretary repeat something over and over, it is likely that he is trying to convince himself and/or protect a personal agenda.
When you hear a group of people continually debate about who is in charge, it is likely that they are trying to self-preserve.
I am a student of Church world and have noticed some churches keep repeating how they are the biggest church in their town.(I’m not referring to CCV) Why are they repeating that? When you hear a professional athlete repeat how dominant he is, who is he trying to convince and who is he trying to protect?

What is it in your life that you have been vocally repeating? Who are you trying to convince? You don’t have to convince the people who are watching you. We know you by your actions. Jesus said in Matthew 7:16 (NASB), “You will know them by their fruit.” When my words do not back up my actions, everybody knows it but me, and how I look foolish. When your words do not back up your actions, everybody knows it and how foolish you look. Once, there was an elder who told me in front of a bunch of other people that I have two ears and one mouth for a reason. That reason is to talk less and listen more. That was great advice that cut to my core. I learned from that elder. I appreciated the accountability, even though it hurt at the time, it made me sit back and shut up and listen. I am still working on getting better at such. What shocked me, is that specific elder was one who wouldn’t shut up in our private meetings. LOL. Crazy isn’t it? We are imperfect people and the only time that gets us in trouble is when we actually try to make other people live better than we do ourselves. I call that behavioral modification and control. It’s everywhere, but it is at its stinkiest in the church. It is crazy how Christians get very angry at other people for sinning differently than they do themselves.

Bottom line…We all need accountability. We need it of any kind. If someone tells you they don’t need accountability…that is the very person who needs it most. Why? Because they said it! Who are they trying to convince?

As far as the Top of the News is going right now….

We are seeing what happens when power seeking more power goes “unfettered” by a lack of accountability through biased-non-reporting from the press. The press is crying foul at something they actually empowered to happen. I pray it is a lesson learned. This lesson should soak into every fragment of our individual lives, corporate lives, committee lives, elder’s in church’s lives, marriage lives, and friendship lives. Hunger for power and living for self leads to secrecy, and secrecy is the beginning of sin/evil…let it go unchecked by covering up the truth and the truth will build such power that it will eventually blow forth in such a mighty way that it will reveal the culprit in a very naked way.

If you are a Christian and in a healthy Church, you should be able to come forward, confess your sin and be embraced by the loving arms of the body of Jesus Christ. There will still be consequences to covering up the truth and sin, but you will be loved not judged. That is the Church behaving its best.

If you are not in the Church, and are, like in today’s top news stories, the U.S. Government…well… your role, and the hot water that seems to be coming to a boil. I’m afraid more judgment is coming than love. The Government is not like the Church. The Government works for the people, and hell hath no fury than a people scorned, lied to and tricked. Its different for the Church, nobody answers to people, we answer to Jesus. There’s a big difference. I would rather answer to Jesus than to people. People are scary. Jesus is not. People are unpredictable, Jesus is not.

I like to say, “Time tells all things.”
Jesus said it better. “You will be known by your fruit.”
Jesus said it best, when He said, “The truth shall set you free.”
Be truthful now and there is nothing to hide and nothing to blow up in our face and leave us naked before our judges.

Power, Secrecy and a Lack of Accountability are very dangerous things.
I’ve never seen a single soul, in all of world history, be able to safely play with power, secrecy, lack of accountability, and not get burnt and thus be left naked and exposed before the whole world.
If you hunger for power, have secrets and a lack of accountability I’ll bet you keep secretly telling yourself that it will all be okay.
Who are you trying to convince?
My advice, if you will accept it, is to take up 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.”

God is the Power. God knows all secrets. God is the ultimate accountability. AND…God is love. That makes me stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene. He is the one and only true King.

In 1905, Charles Gabriel wrote a great Hymn called ‘I stand Amazed in the Presence.” It’s one of my favorite songs. I think when you read the lyrics below, the notes will play in your head. I dare you sing it right from where you sit…who cares who hears you…sing it! 🙂

I stand amazed in the presence
of Jesus the Nazarene,
and wonder how he could love me,
a sinner, condemned, unclean.

Refrain:
How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful
is my Savior’s love for me!

He took my sins and my sorrows,
he made them his very own;
he bore the burden to Calvary,
and suffered and died alone.
(Refrain)

When with the ransomed in glory
his face I at last shall see,
twill be my joy through the ages
to sing of his love for me.
(Refrain)


What Is The Motivation?

Jesus’s teachings, life and death are common. Many others have taught, lived and died. These common things didn’t motivate the apostles to begin The Church. It is Jesus’s resurrection that charged His followers to boldly give everything for Him.

The resurrection is what set Christianity apart. The resurrection is what makes Christianity right. The resurrection, not your personal preferences, is what should cause deep passion in you. THE RESURRECTION OVERRULES your need to be right, your music preference, what you wear, your leadership style, your insecurity, your ignorance, your sin, your attitude, your control, your dominance, your flesh, and your last breath. They all have been overruled! What else could it mean to be titled, “Lord of Lords and King of Kings?!”


Hydrate — Winning from the inside 35 (Matthew 7:6) Pearls, Pigs & Dogs

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6

Jesus used some crazy illustrations. I imagine He fascinated His listener of His day. I’m fascinated by what He says just by reading it. This Bible passage has been used to teach many personal agendas. The passage is vague enough that I believe its okay to use this passage to make all kinds of conclusions. I intend, before this post is over, to make a specific point using this passage to teach about dogs and pigs in the form of people. Before I write my intended point, I think it would be healthy to take a quick shot at what Jesus literally meant when He taught this passage referenced.

In passages throughout the Bible about judging, we can read that we aren’t to judge unbelievers…and “dogs” was a slang term for unbelievers, in Jesus’s time. I think that Jesus is saying that we shouldn’t try to use Biblical ideas/principles/wisdom to try to help or teach unbelievers through their problems because they do not even believe the Bible to be true at this point in their life. I have tried this. I have tried to talk to unbelievers about their problems and have quoted parts of the Bible to them. I found it thrown back in my face. Almost with hostility. (Have you ever purchased a Bible and gave it as a gift to a non-believer? It has a tendency to turn the stomach of the recipient. It seems to backfire.) It is giving something sacred to a “dog” or a “pig”. When its all said and done, the sacred gets defiled and the pig just stays muddy. I think that’s what Jesus literally means. The solution is to love unbelievers as they are and when they start believing, they will open themselves up to the “pearls.” Its better to wait than to try to force feed the Bible to someone who isn’t ready for such a huge meal.

The rest of this blog is biased by what I want to write about. I want to write about “CHANGE” as the sacred pearls and the dog and/or pig could be anyone of us at any given time in our life.

I grew up on a large farm in the NW corner of Kansas. (Oakley KS) My parents still live there and it is now quite fun to take my wife and 4 children there to experience farm life. At the Renner Farm we have always had a dog and have had significant periods of time where we owned hundreds of pigs. I think that most people believe that dogs, overall, are very intelligent. I’m guessing that most people, however, are not aware that pigs are just as, if not more intelligent than a dog. I know for a fact that most people do not think that pigs are animals of cleanliness. No doubt, every pig likes its mud, but most people do not know that mud is a pigs air conditioner. A pig does not like to get dirty as much as it likes to stay cool. A pig can only sweat through its pores on its nose, which means it can’t sweat much to cool off. It has to use external resources to cool off. A water puddle and mud is to a pig, as a swimming pool is to a kid on a hot summer day! It cools.

There is a point to this lesson about dogs and pigs. Keep reading.

A dog, as it ages and gets accustomed to its comforts and patterns of habit, doesn’t like to change. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” A sweaty pig ends up in cardiac arrest due to heat stroke. “You are sweating like a pig” If a pig can’t sweat enough to cool itself off, then it just sits in the mud with very little movement in the heat of the moment.

Using this beastly illustration is my attempt to teach on change or the ability to change. Are there moments in my life where I act like a dog? Are there moments in my life where I act like a pig? My answer to those questions is yes. Sadly we all can act like dogs and pigs when it comes to needing change. The remaining post below is an all out assault on the human pigs and dogs that exist today. On rare occasions I personally need the following assault.

**WARNING** If you are offended by the remainder of this post you are most definitely resisting learning a new trick or you are willfully stuck in the mud. Or, to say it succinctly, you are a dog or you are a pig. Hopefully not both…I’m not sure what that would even look like.

How do we know if we are morphing into a dog or a pig?

Its simple…I am becoming a pig or a dog if I am resistant to change something that needs to change.

The piggly or doggedly things in us start to surface when someone else suggests the need for change in our lives. I have realized, through a couple of surprise life altering encounters in my recent past, that there are some underlying issues that cause us to not want to change. Show me where legitimate change is needed but is not happening and we will also find the underlying reasons as to why those who need to change are not. The number of things I am going to list is not complete. You may be able to think of some other reasons. If you can think of others, please share them with me in the comment section as I want to continue to be a learner and change agent.

Below are the main reasons why people don’t like to change. Or…below are the things that Jesus says causes Christians to become “Dogs” or “Pigs.”

SELF PRESERVATION – You want what you want! Its pretty simple really. A pig and a dog have a narrow focus. They think about their immediate desires and they pursue it. Anything that gets in the way of their selfish desire…well…have you ever experienced an attack from a dog? Have you ever listened to a hunter talk about being attacked by a wild pig? Encountering an angry dog or pig is terrifying. These creatures only think about their immediate desires and when those desires are being threatened, the fight or flight method kicks in. In the Church world, if pigs and/or dogs don’t get what they want, their fight or flight method kicks in. The fight method causes for long meetings and then extra special meetings after THE original meeting. The fight method in the church reveals who is really in charge. The fight method brings the worst out of people and reveals what is settled in their heart. If the fight method doesn’t surface, then that leaves the flight method. Its hard to say this, but it’s spoken in love. When pigs and/or dogs don’t get what they want in the Church and they don’t want to fight, then they just leave until they find what they desire. Churches that are dying, are really just hospices for the pigs and the dogs. I don’t mean that in a mean spirited way, I say it in total love and truth telling. If I refuse to change in areas that change is required, so success and fruitfulness can happen again, then bottom line, I am selfish. I am acting like a dog or a pig and I don’t deserve the pearls that God would have me manage. Self-Preservation is a sin that morphs christians into pigs and dogs.

EGO – “I like what I like and I think my ways are the best ways.” That sentence, which is a thought and very rarely spoken, is riddled with ego. Let me be clear about something. Ego in itself, is not a bad thing. Ego, in its simplest form, is confidence. As long as someone’s ego doesn’t rise higher than their ability or integrity, then that ego is a okay…it is confidence. Was it not ego for Jesus to say, “I am the way, the truth and the life”? The Apostle Paul had ego. David had ego. Goliath had ego. Jezebel had ego. The instant their ego level went higher than their integrity, they were disciplined by God. (Pride comes before the fall.) How they responded to their discipline determined if God allowed them to reestablish their influence or not. Repentance is huge! A dog and a pig are both confident that their way is the right way. The dog likes the tricks he is able to perform. The pig loves the cool comforts of its stagnant mud hole. The dog has learned to selfishly entertain itself with its old tricks and only gathers with other dogs and pigs that like those same old tricks. The pig has been laying in its mud hole for so long it doesn’t smell the stench anymore. Understanding this helps us realize how easy it is to become a dog and a pig. The dog and the pig see no need to change. Change would make them uncomfortable. To learn new tricks would require sacrifice as they worked through a new learning curve and would require admitting that their old trick used to be good. The pig would have to risk getting out of the mud, which takes a lot of effort, and could cause over heating issues as they stepped into the light. The dog’s ego prevents it from experiencing the thrill of new tricks. The pig’s ego prevents it from experiencing fresh mud holes down the road.


A typical pig or dog, at this point, would ask, “who gets to determine what tricks or mud holes are the right ones or not? They would ask, what makes you think your mud pit and your tricks are the right way? The answer to that question is, I don’t know if my idea is the right idea, but what I do know is that your old tricks and your mud pit are not effective anymore. I have found that pigs and dogs are confident of the way they think is right. Christians who are NOT pigs or dogs don’t know what method will work best, they only recognize when a way that used to be the right way no longer is. People who are not pigs or dogs want to leave the old tricks and want to get out of the stagnant mud hole. People who are not dogs or pigs are willing to try something new and they won’t have any of the reasons listed in this post that hold them back.
Pigs and Dogs, due to Self Preservation, are sub-conscienly driven by their own desires. This fact is an integrity problem due to selfishness. This integrity problem begins to rise. The person’s integrity now begins to drop under their ego and now they begin morphing into a pig or a dog. Unknowingly the dog and the pig enjoy being stuck in the mud of old tricks. Worst case scenario is that this reality is the beginning of a slow and safe death. If the worst case scenario doesn’t happen then the pig and the dog quietly slip into the village of average. Some might say that average isn’t so bad. I say that average is invisible. I would prefer death to invisibility. Eventually they end up in the same place. Ineffectiveness. Isn’t that the same as death?

CONTROL – When a person is committed to self preservation, which naturally leads to their integrity level to drop below their ego level, it will progress into the desire to control. Self Preservation + Low Integrity/High Ego = Control. Controlling people are dogs and pigs that will not receive the pearls that God would have them manage. People who refuse to change, keep everything under their control. A good illustration would be like a ship’s captain who refused to listen to the navigator as he warned him of a huge coral reef just ahead. The controlling captain, with all his/her ego and self preservation abounding…controls the ship right into death for all.
Pearls to swine…so tragic and devastating.

AFRAID – Change is suffocated by fearfulness on a daily basis. It is scary to get out of the comfortable smelly mud hole. The possibility of looking stupid as the dog tries a new trick is debilitating. People who refuse to change are really just people overwhelmed by fear. These reasons for not changing feed off of each other. Controlling people are in full tilt self preservation mode because they are afraid of something. Fear could be accused as being the king motivator as to why the pig and the dog even exist in church world. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of failure. Fear of losing a position of power. Share your thoughts with me about this in the comments section.

LAZINESS– Bottom line, its hard work to change. Lazy people hate change. We are busy, stressed, and don’t need more pressure. The pig and the dog lie to themselves, thinking that everything is fine and they don’t want to fix it, if it ain’t broke. The problem is that out of control ego and self preservation have blinded them to the fact that when something isn’t growing it is actually dying. When newcomers enter the old tricks mud pit, he/she notices the tricks are ineffective and the mud is stagnant. The new comer naturally, and even kindly, will mention the smell and age of the tricks, but the pig and the dog are overcome by fear which causes them to resort to control which causes them to fight or flight. Bottom line Pigs and Dogs struggle with being lazy. The pearl is hidden in the new trick and just outside the reach of a mud hole. Its hard work to get to get the new pearls. Jesus is warning us not to throw pearls to swine or give sacred things to dogs. Jesus knows the underlying reasons that are being listed in this post.
My hope in this post is revelation and awareness, not condemnation. I hope the pig and the dog, reading this, don’t see this as condemnation. I hope the pig and the dog realize they aren’t meant to be a pig or a dog, but a New Creation in Jesus Christ that is bent on completing the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus Christ.

How do you kill the Pig or the Dog within you?

Kill SELF PRESERVATION by promoting the progress and purpose of other people, more so than your own… Matthew 20:28, For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Stop trying to make Church what you think it should be and make it such that people who are far from Jesus want to come and give their life to Him. Be willing to sacrifice your wants for others. Jesus did. As a Christian you can get what you want on your own outside the walls of church. You can fill your desire for your favorite worship music at home. You can fill your desire for your style of Bible study on your own study time. You can self feed. You are the Christian. Sacrifice your desires for those who are still searching for Christ. Paul said, I become all things to all people so that some may be saved! What a great attitude. Paul was not a pig or a dog.

Kill EGO by considering others as better than yourself. The following passage is adequate for Ego and Self Preservation. Philippians 2:3, Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Kill CONTROL by giving it back to God. When you try to control anything, its like you getting in the face of God and screaming at Him, “I can do it better than you, God!” That’s eternally devastating. Romans 8:9 says, But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.”
Kill FEARFULNESS by trusting God at His word. Don’t forget that God wants what is best for you! He doesn’t promise safety, but He promises eternal good to those who live for Him. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

Kill LAZINESS by knowing that you work for God, not yourself and certainly not for your selfish desires. Romans 12:11 says, Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.”

Change!
For God’s sake, be willing to change.
Gor the sake of the World, Change.
For the Church’s sake, keep changing the methods, but keep the message the same.

There are pearls/blessings/thrills/adventures/challenges/fruitfulness to be harvested!
Jesus says never give pearls to a dog or a pig.
Don’t be a dog.
Don’t be a pig.


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?