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Church Planting Sequel

Do you remember the old Whitesnake song “Here I Go Again”? It was a #1 hit song. Originally released on their 1982 album, Saints & Sinners, the song was re-recorded for their 1987 album Whitesnake. In 2006, the 1987 version was named the 17th Greatest Song of the 1980s by VH1.

The Lyrics resonate with me as I venture into what will be my 2nd Church plant. Some of the Lyrics go like this…my comments are in parenthesis.

I don’t know where I’m going, but I sure know where I’ve been. (Steve Jobs said, we cannot connect the dots looking forward, only looking back.)
Hanging on the promises in the songs of yesterday (Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Amazing Grace, How great thou art, The Old Rugged Cross.)
And I’ve made up my mind (I’m planting a church again. The first one was amazing, I have no idea how this 2nd one will turn out.)
I ain’t wasting no more time (I’ve been side-lined for more than a year now. Its time to do what God has created me to do, plant a Church)
Here I go again, here I go again (Yep…but the “I” should be a “we.” I can’t do this on my own. Its not mine, its the Lord’s. I want to include people from all around the world who will invest their time, talent and treasure in this church plant. What do you have that you would like to invest in this specific work of the Lord’s?)

There are so many unknowns in the future. I know this Church plant will come with some criticism, but we must move forward. There are thousands…no… millions of people who are far from God that if any Christ centered church out there doesn’t reach them, they will spend eternity is the most formidable and tormenting place ever in existence, Hell. The Church shouldn’t criticize each other. We shouldn’t compete against each other, we should celebrate our differences and march together as the body of Christ. We should complete each other.

So many people think the church is the most segregated organism on the planet. Some would “prove” this by saying that whites go to one church, blacks to another, hispanics go one way, Asians another and right on down the skin color chart….and then they’ll prove their segregation comments further by saying, the youth go to one place, the children to another, men this way, women that way, divorcees here, young couples there, senior somewhere else. This “glass half-empty” mentality says that these facts show that the current church is all a great tragedy.

I’m a “glass half full” mentality kind of guy. I agree with the description above, but I do not see it as segregation. I see it as the body of Christ and just as a heart goes one place, the lungs go to another, the toes, the head, the fingers, the kidneys, the eyeballs, the elbows, the knees….

I think the church is the most strategically located entity in the world. It has diversity that reaches to the ends of the earth. IT TAKES ALL KINDS TO REACH ALL KINDS! “Birds of a feather, flock together! Every color, race, tribe and misfit has a place in the body of Christ. A.K.A…THE CHURCH! If it is an organism that believes that Jesus Christ is THE way, THE truth, THE life…then it is a unified, universal, un-defeatable body that is a giant, beautiful, imperfect, spectacular….CHURCH! It isn’t tragic that we are spread out all over the world in like groups…its miraculous and beautiful.

I love the Church…even when her dirty laundry is hanging out for all the world to see. I love the Church. Even in it’s worst form…its beautiful!

That’s why I’m starting a brand new one in Orlando Florida…in a suburb called Oviedo.
I don’t know how it will turn out, but I give this one promise…
I’m going to love joining with a group of people who want to make a dent in this crazy world…where we team together complimenting each other with our different strengths, talents, and spiritual gifts. My greatest passion in life is helping you be successful by leading you to understand your purpose by helping you understand your giftedness that the Lord has blessed you with and then challenging you to storm the gates of Hell at all costs! I’ll storm them with you!

Its going to be an unforgettable, eternal journey.

To God Be The Glory…Great Things He Hath Done…

Here we are Lord…Use us!
TR


Trajectory – Shift Happens

One decision, one person, one integrity problem, one accident, one encounter…and your entire life trajectory can be altered for eternity. We are all just one decision from having our entire life trajectory being altered for eternity. I have never in my life imagined living in Orlando Florida. I planted a church in Phoenix Arizona and dreamed to be the Lead Pastor of that Church for 40 years and then retire and pass the baton to one of my sons and ask to have the Church broom so I could be the Church Janitor and best cheerleader the new pastor could dream of. To be perfectly honest I hate the phrase, ‘If you want to make God laugh just tell Him your plans.” I hate it, but I get it.

I am completely dumbfounded, flabbergasted, blown away, that I now live in Orlando Florida. My family’s trajectory change has moments of thrill and moments of chill…yah…the bad kind of chill. One decision… has me living 2,180 miles from anything I have ever known and facing giants and obstacles that make my skin crawl, my heart ache, my blood pressure to rise, and my heart to beat faster for the thrill of the challenge. One decision led to this. One decision that I know I was supposed to make. How do I know that I was supposed to make it? Because God told me to. It was so clear that, if I had to make the decision again, knowing what I know now, I would have to make the same decision because God was that clear. Steve Jobs said that we can never connect the dots looking forward, only looking back. Others say we all have 20/20 hindsight.

So the average comfy Christian would reply to my paragraph above, “Its okay, Trent…God must have wanted you to live in Orlando Florida and have you doing what you are doing now…or… what happened wouldn’t have happened, its all God’s plan…so let go and let God.” Isn’t that convenient. I’m not a Calvanist and I think that answer is a copout. Its wrong to place all the blame or responsibility on God. Its easy to blame God for the disasters/trajectory changes going on in your life. When you blame God nobody else has to accept responsibility. The phrase, “God’s Got This” is true but that is different than saying God caused this. Want an example?

Adam and Eve. Did God plan and intend for them to break His rules of not eating of the specific trees in the Garden of Eden? Did God tell Himself before He created Adam and Eve….”Hey I’m going to create this thing called people and I am going to love them because I made them in my image to be like me…but in my plan I’ve got this little fun twist I want to play around with…I’m going to cause them to screw it all up. I am going to watch them become ashamed of each other and then I plan on watching them kill each other and then I’m going to kill my own Son to pay the price for their screw ups and how fun it will be…because I”m gonna blow them all away by raising my son from the dead after I kill Him! God leans to His right and asks His Son…”Sound Cool, Jesus?” “You up for this great plan, Son?” Jesus says, “that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, Dad.” God replies, “Oh, Jesus…don’t be a bad sport. You can do it! Think of the adventure!” So God proceeds with his “will” and for thousands of years orchestrates rapes, gangster murder, divorce and hate, suicide bombers, as He leans back into His memory foam love-sac and from His game room in His gated community called Heaven, xbox 360 controller in hand, intensely playing through His favorite game called Life. Press X for Jump, Y to knife, UP arrow to receive prayer, DOWN arrow for eternal punishment…

Too cynical for you? Yah…me too…I’m in a sassy mood. Its been a rough week. It all makes we want to scream from my roof top that Life was never intended to be this way. If you can read through my cynicism there’s actually a good lesson here.

Trajectory Shift. Your’s might shift tomorrow. Everything you’ve been doing for the past 13/20/60 years could be completely annihilated before your very eyes…tomorrow. If it happens you’ll be put in a trajectory change that will make you question everything you thought you knew about life, the people around you and leave you screaming, Why?!” Ask yourself… Do you trust that person you are about to make the deal with? Do you trust your spouse? Do you trust your dad? Do you trust that taxi driver as you jump in the back seat. Do you trust the engineer who just built the bridge. Do you trust the man who put the bolt in the truss hanging over your head in that giant football stadium? Do you trust the driver on the other side of the dotted yellow line? Do you trust the councelor who is meeting behind closed doors with your child? Do you trust the guy working under you as he sees the rungs of the ladder above you? Do you trust the spiritual mentor you’ve had in your life for the past 20 plus years? Do you trust your preacher and how he handles the church finances? Do you trust the man dressed up in a SWAT uniform carrying a gun across the parking lot of the movie theater? Trust and Trajectory shifts…they go hand in hand.

Its tough to walk the fine line of trusting someone, something, and at the same time making sure everybody signs the dotted line of security.

In God We Trust…everybody else pays cash and signs the agreement.
I’ve learned in the past year about trust and security and trajectory shift. God is the only one we can fully trust without thinking much about it, without worry, without stress. He always has our best interest in mind, even if it doesn’t feel good. Everybody else…you will have to choose to trust, it will require some security backup like contracts and waivers. Even then its a finicky trust. Its a trust that if all parties aren’t seeking the best interest of each other it will end up in a trajectory shift in your life that will take your breath away and you will be bothered by it the rest of your life. Shift Happens!

I chose to trust. 20/20 hindsight proves that it was a blind and naive trust. I didn’t have anybody sign the agreement that I wrote up. I didn’t get perfect clarity before I committed. I feel like a dummy. I trusted. I quietly pulled back the paperwork, folded it in half and slid it in my back pocket. Oh…I’d like that 20 seconds of time back. I believed in the idealistic dream that everybody has everybody else’s benefit in mind. You see…it takes two to make a plan work right. It takes all parties listening to God and behaving like God to make God’s plan work. Even one entity thinking only for themselves and the deal is bust. Trajectory Shift starting in 10…9…8…

I do not blame anyone, but myself. I don’t blame the other party. I most definitely do not blame God. I’m just heart broken over all the shift! Its a load of shift. I’m sick to my stomach…frequently…about it all. What does a man do now? I know the answer to that question!

You get up, shake the dust off your clothes and put your feet on the ground and start over. What else can you do? It doesn’t work to keep laying in the dirt bloodied and pathetic. It doesn’t work to listen to the voice of the critic. It doesn’t work to listen to the voice of one who is celebrating as you suffer the shift. You get up! Tomorrow arrives consistently everyday. Time keeps ticking whether I want it to stop or not. I must choose to fully grasp the shift and make the most of it. Shifts make for new beginnings, new places, new plans. Pain and trajectory shifts are twins. Pain doesn’t mean its bad, its just reality. Trajectory shifts means somebody didn’t get what they hoped for. That causes agony, but new beginnings too. My trajectory shift has landed me in another part of the country and feels like another part of the world. My trajectory shift has me realizing that everybody is the same whether you live in Arizona or in Florida…Uganda or Peru…Jerusalem or Paris.

I am truly understanding for the first time in my life what the Bible means by all Creation groans for the return of the King, Jesus Christ. I used to think only weak people groaned for the return of Jesus. I’ve realized its just the opposite. People who really haven’t faced a crushing trajectory shift in their life, who sit under the umbrella of false security and false contentment are the soft ones who don’t understand why people groan for the return of Jesus. If you aren’t groaning for the return of Jesus you have the “blessed” position of comfort and a life truly unaltered. You’ve gotten your way for too long. To this type of person, it is alarming to think of Jesus returning, for life is too good to have it all end now. Death terrifies this type of person because life is too good. What a crazy, wild, out of control world we live in…its quite thrilling if you think about it. I guess its all how you view life.

I am astonished at the patience and love that Jesus carried with Him every minute of the short time He lived here as one of us. He encountered such selfish people. On rare occasions we can see when He encountered a person that “inspired” Him. It was usually a person who had faced incredible hardship and trajectory shifts in their life. It takes my breath away when I think about how much restraint, that God the Father must have, to NOT send His Son back down here to settle the score once and for all and end the nonsense, the selfishness, the clamoring for power and privilege and position. Fighting for who answers to who. Scheming to get what they want when they want it. I want to scream…Jesus…please stop the madness! God’s patience is maddening to me and at the same time a beautiful gift to me. And you!

Its enough to make a pastor throw in the towel of ministry to go work at Home Depot. But…

No chance.
I’ll never quit.
Yes…I said it…Never.

I have been crushed. The crushing has made me smarter, harder, more aware. I’m not sure if all of those things are good or not? I assume it depends on how I use those knew weapons from this day forward.

Time tells all things. Trajectory shift changes all things.
For now…the trajectory has shifted. Shift happens. I can handle it. It just makes me weary. I must rest…for tomorrow is guaranteed to begin. The sun will rise. The Son will return. In the mean time….
I’ll try not to screw it up. If I do…that’ll change the trajectory again. Trajectory change wouldn’t be so bad if it was just me that it affected. The trajectory shift I experienced a year ago…because of one decision,…affected more than 20,000 people. Their trajectory was altered, even though multitudes of them will never know. I wish it would have just affected me. I faced an incredibly scary decision just a few nights ago that I had to make. I made it and my trajectory has shifted again. This trajectory shift has affected nearly 1000 people. In the next few days and weeks all involved with experience more trajectory shift because of the choices of a few.

I wonder if there is a viewing room in Heaven where we can someday go to see what should have been or what could have been if all parties would have just acted like Jesus. I don’t think an actual room exists, though, because the Bible says there will be no tears. Sitting in the viewing room of what should have been, would make any viewer watching their “should have been life” flash before their eyes, cry. If there was such a room, it would have a no vacancy sign on because it would be full of those who insisted that their life stay the same. It will be full of people who clawed and fought for only what they want. The video playing in that room will terrify those who refused to change, stretch, grow, give and risk. If you haven’t faced tremendous trajectory shift in your life, it will only be a matter of time. I think there are two kinds of people in the world. Those coming out of a crushing trajectory shift and those who are getting ready to enter a crushing trajectory shift.

As hard as the trajectory shift is…the shift is actually a gift from God. This wasn’t all in God’s plan. I will never know what God had planned in the plan before this trajectory shift. I will be thought provoked for the rest of my life wondering what could have been if everybody would have stayed in God’s will.
The things that happened has caused God to have to change His plan. It has caused God to pick up the ashes
What does a man do in this situation?

It makes him simply say…What now Lord? Here I am use me.

Trust God that He didn’t cause this trajectory change. Man did.
Trust God at His word that He’ll make beauty from ashes. He will.

The Shift is a Gift!

May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground.
Carry on.

Trent


Where O where did my little blog go…

I have been poked, prodded and emailed, face-booked, tweeted and phoned as to where my blogging has gone. I can see that May 9th was my last Hydrate post. I used to post nearly everyday, so I am seeing now that nearly 2 months has gone by without a single tap of a keyboard, I deserve all the prodding. What has happened?

Well I moved 2,188 miles across the USA from Surprise AZ (Phoenix) to Oviedo FL (Orlando). So over the last 50 or so days, my family has packed the house, said goodbye to some amazing AZ friends, moved the miles mentioned above, unpacked the house (about 50 people helped unpack to the two PODS and it took only 45 minutes), we have sold our AZ home to a cash buyer, invaded our new church in Orlando, Metro Church www.metrocc.org, met the new staff team and new church people (wonderful people), unpacked boxes (not done yet) and have gone to the beach twice (going again today!) I am amazed at how many times one can go to Home Depot when moving into a new house. We are currently renting and look forward to purchasing our own home as soon as we can.

So all in all, I have been overwhelmed and I appreciate your patience with me. I appreciate your desire to even read this blog and I hope that my recent lack of it does not cause you to lose interest.

Some of you have asked about my book “Retweeting Jesus” and when it will be released. All I know for now is that it is currently going through what is called the “copy editing” process. It takes a solid month and its about 10 days into it. I’m not sure what the next step is. One thing I’m sure of, is that I will keep you updated about it. I will be asking for your help in getting word out about this devotional book. I think it will help so many Christians understand the passion of Jesus and help even more unchurched friends possibly to give their lives to Him. I pray you will help me when the book comes out.

Be patient with me a little longer. I will blog again very soon. In my next blog post I am not going to jump right back into the “Hydrate” series I am doing. I want to take a couple blog posts and talk about TRAJECTORY. Its what happened to my family that caused us to land in Florida. One person, one church, one decision can change your entire life’s trajectory. I want to blog about my experience and I hope it encourages you, warns you and keeps you on your toes.

It may sound weird for me to say this, but if you are reading this material, I love you and care for you deeply. I look forward to a life long connection with you as we keep our eyes on the most important things of life. Jesus and each other.

New blog post coming soon.
Trent


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 27 (Mt. 6:14-15) “Forgive”

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

Is God forgiveness conditional? According to Jesus, Yes, forgiveness is not something you receive just because Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins. This is a tough teaching. Jesus’ death on the cross ended God’s anger towards mankind for sin and satisfied God’s character trait of Justice. (Thank God that He is also Mercy.) Jesus’ death doesn’t automatically grant us forgiveness. We have to go to Jesus, then through Jesus and be made new in Jesus. We have to accept Jesus as Lord of our life. We have to receive His blood. This is where forgiveness is received as the free gift that it is.

But…

What if, I have done all those things…is it still possible to not receive Jesus’ forgiveness? I will ask you to answer that question yourself after you read a few passages of Scripture. Here are some passages to help us answer this question.

Matthew 18:23-35 (NLT)
Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor
21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone* who sins against me? Seven times?”
22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!*
23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.* 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars.* He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters* from your heart.”

Question: Did the servant receive forgiveness? The answer is yes. Did the servant have his forgiveness revoked? The answer is yes. Why did the servant, after receiving the status of forgiven, return to the status of unforgiven? The answer is, because the forgiven servant refused to forgive someone else.

Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT)
Jesus said, “14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Those two passages give me clear proof that if I refuse to forgive anyone, then God will not forgive me. It’s unimaginable to me that anyone would beg for forgiveness from God and at the same time refuse forgiveness to others who have sinned against us.

Our forgiveness is tied in directly with our willingness to forgive those who have sinned against us. Anybody I have spoken with about this agrees, until they have personally been hurt. Its easy to tell others that they need to forgive. Its not so easy to do it ourselves. So maybe the next few thoughts will help all of us understand why un-forgiveness is like a nasty disease and the quicker we forgive, the healthier we will be personally.

Un-forgiveness not only hurts ourselves but also the person who hurt us. In most cases when someone sins against us and hurts us deeply, the person who hurt us doesn’t sit around thinking about us. The person who hurt us, more likely than not, is not waking up every morning thinking about us. People who cause deep pain, usually do so because they have a tendency to think selfishly. If this is the case, and the person who hurt us is not thinking about us, but we are frequently thinking about the person who hurt us, then we are actually hurting ourselves. Pain makes us think about who, what, why and when we are hurt. Its very time consuming.

With un-forgiveness in our heart, we are consumed by the one who hurt us. I’ve heard it said that thinking about the person who hurt you is like letting that person live in your heart rent free. Again…they are not thinking about us much at all. We are dwelling on them and how they hurt us. It begins to fester. Its all consuming. We find ourselves lashing out at others. Why? Because of un-forgiveness. Un-forgiveness means we don’t heal. Without healing, there is still pain. Pain makes us focus. If we have un-forgiveness towards a person who hurt us then we will focus on the person and the pain. Focus is commitment. We become what we are committed to. If we are committed to feeling the pain and not giving forgiveness then we will become people of pain and un-forgiveness. You will become a person of hurt. Hurt people, hurt other people, or as I like to say, “hurt people, hurt people.

I know we do not want to be hurt people that go about hurting other people. The temptation is to think that the anger we feel inside is good. The temptation is to enjoy the anger feeling we have inside. Sometimes it can make us rage internally and sometimes outwardly. Watch enough Hollywood movies and you will actually begin to believe that the rage and anger you feel is empowering. You will think it feels good and makes you powerful. It makes us think we are strong. It will tempt you to seek revenge and you will begin to believe your revenge is justified. Do you see how dangerous this is? Compare it to man who is taking steroids. He is injecting a chemical inside his body that makes him bulk up and look good. His muscles grow and he becomes an impressive specimen. However, he is poisoning his body. That same steroid that made us all think this person is extremely healthy actually causes him to die. Sterilization, bouts of rage and emotions that are out of control, are all side effects of steroids. But the user thought it was all good. This is what un-forgiveness does to us. Its slowly kills us from the inside or causes us to physically lash out and have sinful reactions.

Mother Theresa said it best, “Un-forgiveness is like you drinking poison and hoping it kills the person who hurt you.”

So what must we do to rid ourselves of un-forgiveness? We have to give forgiveness. Now, in full transparency, I have never felt like forgiving someone who has hurt me. If we are waiting on the feeling to come around, it won’t. Forgiveness is an act of discipline. Forgiveness is an act of sheer holy will. Forgiveness is a choice to be healthy. Forgiveness is one of the most difficult decisions we can make.

I hope the following thoughts will help us give forgiveness to the one(s) who have hurt us. First of all we are dying a slow death if we don’t forgive. It will rot us. Think about this. Just because we forgive someone doesn’t mean they just get off without any consequences. A murderer who is about to receive a lethal injection for his crime can be forgiven by the family of the loved one he murdered. But he still receives the lethal injection. If a family member wounded me deeply, I can forgive the person, and I will be smarter in my dealings with this person from now on. I will create boundaries. If a woman has been abused by a family member, she can forgive that family member, and from that point forward not spend any more time with her abuser. To forgive someone doesn’t mean that we have to be in each others company in the future. If we have been hurt by someone, forgive them and then create boundaries. Don’t forget that God is a god of Restoration. He deeply desires us to be in healed and holy relationships. God desires for you to forgive and restore, but God also understands that if one of the parties doesn’t honor the new boundaries set, then God doesn’t expect us to stay around abusive and unholy behavior. Especially if the person who is abusive and displaying unholy behavior calls themselves a Christian. Be smart with this. Don’t trust your feelings on this issue. Trust God’s Word and common sense. We may need to seek some trustworthy counsel from holy friends or seek a good Christian counselor to advise us on these life altering issues.

The critical factor in all this is to triple check our motives as to why we are creating boundaries as we give forgiveness and work on whatever this restored relationship is going to look like. If we are creating boundaries to control and hurt the person back, then we truly haven’t given the person forgiveness and we now are having sinful reactions towards the person who hurt us. How? All control, judgement and praise belong to God only. If we ever do anything for the purpose of control, praise or judgement then we are taking the role of God. If we do this, even if we won’t say it, our actions are screaming, “I am God!” As we create boundaries for the person who hurt us, we must carefully guard that we aren’t actually having sinful reactions of control and judgement.

Forgiveness ultimately frees us from the prison we have been trapped in. If we are trapped in a prison of forgiveness then we must recognize that we hold the keys to our freedom in our own hands. The keys that unlock our jail cell of un-forgiveness are in our hands. The key is forgiveness. Forgiveness allows us to let the person who hurt us go. By doing this they can no longer live in our hearts rent free. We unlock ourselves from the prison we have been in. A popular “churchy” phrase is “let go-and let God.” When we forgive we release this person into the hands of God and trust that God will do what is right to and for that person. If we try to control the situation because we believe that God will be too kind to the person, then we actually believe that God will make a mistake and that we can do a better job of making this person face the consequences they deserve. Again, if we do this, we actually act as if we are God. We think we can do a better job than God. How dangerous is that?

If what I have written above still is not helping us grant forgiveness to the people who have hurt us, then here is my last desperate attempt.

I am going to write this as if I am talking directly with you.

Have you ever hurt someone?
Do you agree that what you did to hurt that person was a sin?
Did Jesus die to pay for your sin?
Did Jesus die to pay for the sins of the person who hurt you?
As I personally answer the four questions above…The answer is yes to all.

Forgive.

How.
Write a letter.
Send a text.
Facebook Message.
Skype.
Phone call.
Personal visit.

We cannot control how the person will respond when we tell them we are forgiving them. They may not even know that they hurt you. They may get angry, lash out, try to hurt more. Don’t worry about or try to control how they respond. Remember forgiveness is for us to be free. Give forgiveness. Live free.

Don’t forget 1 John 1:9(NLT) I would recommend that we all memorize it. “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

Forgive.
Be Forgiven!
Its the good life.


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 17 (Mt. 5:31-32) “Divorce”

“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”
Matthew 5:31-32

DRINK IT IN:

Let me be clear in this “nasty” teaching of Jesus’.
Jesus loves people who have never been married.
Jesus loves people who are married.
Jesus loves people who are fighting in their marriage.
Jesus loves people who are filing for divorce in their marriage.
Jesus loves people who are divorced.
Jesus loves people who have been divorced multiple times.
Jesus loves people.
Jesus loves you.

Is that clear as mud?

Let me be even more clear. JESUS HATES DIVORCE. There is a HUGE difference in hating divorce and hating people. They are not the same thing. Jesus loves the sinner and hates the sin. Jesus hates divorce but loves the divorcee. We all need to be extremely honest here, and call divorce what it is. Divorce is a sin and, yes, God/Jesus hate it. They hate it as much as lying, murder, drunkenness, gossip, idol worship, foul language and all other sins.

I have a big question for you to think about. When did divorce seem to become the unforgivable sin? I’m not trying to let divorce off the hook. I’m not trying to justify it. I am simply fascinated at how people tend to think and feel that divorce is worse than other sins. What is fascinating to me is how different cultures view different sins. In America, adultery and divorce are the big nasties and yet we are almost numb to murder. I traveled to Africa recently where divorce and adultery are rampant, but if you neighbor steals something from you, the whole village goes into an uproar, while sexual sin seems to be overlooked. I traveled to Jerusalem, where you cannot mix meat and cheese together (horrible pizza there) because of Old Testament Jewish Law, but revenge and being judgmental towards others is a daily occurrence and doesn’t seem to upset many people at all. There is something deep inside us that causes us to rank sins, overlooking some and being appalled by others. I’m not sure why.

What am I saying in all this? I’m saying that God hates sin…period. Be careful if you are really picking on one sin at the ignoring of others. Its really not our job to be judging what sins are stronger than others. That is God’s job. This teaching of Jesus’ is a tough one. Again, like in other teachings, Jesus is being very direct. He is “stirring it up” with those who are listening to Him as He teaches this, and He’s “stirring it up” with us as we read it nearly 2000 years later. I think its fair for me to say that Jesus had a “no holds barred” teaching philosophy and in this teaching He opened up a can of “whoop awes!” Do you know what this can is? “Awwwe…I wish He wouldn’t have taught that!”

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of this teaching. First of all, I think it is important that we recognize that God’s law of marriage is a bit different than the governments law of marriage. The government produces a piece of paper, that you pay for as a “couple,” and after some witnesses under the guidance of a state approved officiant sign it with you, you are viewed as married. That is State Marriage.

A God ordained marriage is when God observes you having sex. (God does know and see everything right? This doesn’t make Him a “peeping Tom” is makes Him God of ALL.) When a male goes into a female sexually, they have become what the Bible calls, “one flesh.” In God’s eyes, that is marriage…with or without the paper signed by your local government. With or without a Pastor officiating the ceremony. SEX = MARRIAGE. Why? Because sex is the full consummation of the Mental, Physical, Emotional and Spiritual union between a male and a female. It is how God designed it. The two becoming one flesh can go even one step further. If the sperm and the egg meet up and the timing is right, they create another person, thus “one flesh” is created from the two who were “wed.” Make sense? The two became one flesh and often created one more flesh together, a baby. This is all Marriage!

God created marriage to be a beautiful, sensual, adventurous, vulnerable, emotional, physical, mental, social and spiritual experience. MARRIAGE. Marriage is community. Marriage is how God ordained the entire world order to flow. Marriage is the #1 theme throughout the entire Bible. Some might argue and say that Salvation is the #1 theme in the Bible. I would ask, “What is salvation?” Salvation is the restoring of a person who broke their relationship with God. For a person to become restored with God is to reunite with God. To reunite is union. Marriage is union. God titled it sufficiently in the Bible, by calling Jesus the Bridegroom and the Church the Bride. You are the church. When someone doesn’t’ commit to a local church and also chooses to not be in a relationship with God….this is a form of divorce. God desires marriage. God said from the beginning, right after creating Adam, “its not good for man to be alone…therefore He created woman. God is a God of community. From the very beginning there has always existed The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. Its community, union, relationship, thus marriage.

Understanding what marriage is created by God to be, is the best way to understand why God hates divorce. Marriage is a man and woman teaming together to live life to the full. They compliment each other because they each bring different strengths and weaknesses into the relationship. I love the Hebrew understanding of Man and Woman. The ancient Hebrew spelling for Man is spelled in word pictures. We might better understand them as what we know as ancient hieroglyphics. The word-picture for man, husband and father is…

You might say…”That looks like greek to me.” Well…its actually Hebrew! Now remember, when reading Hebrew, one reads from the right to the left. So, the first letter for man/husband is the letter, “A”. In its most ancient form, written language was written by using “word-pictures.” The A that we have today was first an “Ox-Head.” If you use your imagination you can see that the letter “A” we have today could be an ox head, if you tilt it sideways. The legs of the “A” would then become the horns of an ox head. Got it? This, in the Hebrew language, is called the “Aleph.” Pronounced “u-lef.” Its where we get our English “A”. The ox-head, or the Aleph means, “Strength, Protector, and Leader.” The other hieroglyphic that is on the left side of the Aleph is where we get our English letter “b”. In Hebrew this is called the “beth”. Pronounced, “bet.” The word picture that this letter depicts is a “tent.” If you use your imagination you can see how this could be a tent. The tent, or the bet means, “Family, House.” Again we should read these two word pictures from right to left, opposite of how we read English. When we read these two word pictures as if they were actual letters, this is where we get our word, “Ab.” Translated…Abe, Abraham, “FATHER” Abraham. Thus Father! Jesus said, while dying on the cross, “ABBA.” That means Father. Are you learning Hebrew with me here? So, in this word picture, the man of the house is the husband and father. He is “Abe…Ab” This means the husband is the STRONG(ox) protector of the house(tent). Strong protector of the house. Now the ‘Ab’ has a very difficult task. To protect the house means more than packing your 9mm hand gun and being prepared to take-out the bad guy who is breaking in to your home. Protector of the house, means protector of the Social, Mental, Physical, Spiritual, and emotional state of the household. Wife, Children and self. This is no easy task. As the ‘Ab’ of the house, you are to protect those elements of the home with the same kind of focus and passion you would if an intruder came into your house and you had to use your handgun to protect. The reality is that an actual intruder coming into your home, in the form of a thief or rapist is very rare. But the intruders of greed, selfishness, hate, laziness, anger, etc are intruders that many times live under our own rooftops on a daily basis. Father/Husbands…are you the strong protector of your tents? You are the “Ab.”

Now the word picture for woman, wife and mom is just as fascinating.

Now you are probably recognizing that there is a similarity in the word images for Husband and Wife. The ‘Aleph’ is also in the word-picture of woman. Which means she is strong, protector and leader as well. (Christians who argue about who is the leader of the household, who is in charge, who is over who…miss the entire idea of who Jesus is. He never argued about position. He served and earned His leadership. He washed the feet of those under Him. The best way to husband and wife and who is “over” who is to picture the body. Jesus is the head and the husband and wife are the shoulders.) Woman is also strong leader and protector, but in a different way. Not so much of the “tent/house,” but as the image on the left depicts. The image on the left is the Hebrew letter called the “mem.” It is pronounced like it looks. It is where we get the English letter “m”. So if you say these letters you get “am”…but pronounce it with a short “o….om…am…mam.” Its where we get “mom.” Now the cool thing is the fact that the Hebrew “mem” is a letter that paints the picture of water. Look at the word picture and you will see waves and the “tail” at the bottom of the waves demonstrate the water coming and going just like waves on a beach. There are two different meanings for this letter in the Hebrew culture. The first meaning for water here is…chaos. So mom is the protector of chaos. If that doesn’t fully make sense to you, then understand the second meaning and put them together. The second meaning of “AM” in the Hebrew life was this. A = ox = Strong. M = water=chaos. “AM” was translated to mean “Strong-Water.” Now in the Hebrew world, after a successful hunt, the rawhide of the killed animal, would be skinned and placed in boiling water. The hide would begin to breakdown and the fatty and left over substance from the hide would float to the surface of the boiling water. A trowel would be used to skim this sticky substance off of the boiling water’s surface and the “goo” would be placed on a piece of wood where the extra moisture would be absorbed into the wood leaving a very sticky substance left over. This left over sticky substance was called, “Strong-Water.” This strong water was used for purposes of glue. So, in the Hebrew culture, the ‘AM’…the mother…was the STRONG WATER of the family. Mom is the “glue” that holds everything together. I love that word picture! It is such a true word picture…in most cases.

BUT…hold on…there is another word image for wife/mom/female that is vital in understanding marriage. The word is translated “Helpmate.” God created woman to be a helpmate for man. She is created to be just as powerful as man, but in different ways. (Adam said, bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.) She is just as powerful as man, but in different ways. She is a true compliment/helpmate to man. God didn’t created her to be man’s servant, dish washer, house cleaner…kind of helpmate. But “co-protector.” Both powerful, both serving and loving and needing one another. The best word picture for helpmate is this.

Helpmate is best understood as “She has an “eye” for the “enemy.” The hieroglyphic on the left is a picture of a person with a weapon and is using it to strike…thus…”enemy. ”

The wife of the household has this innate ability to discern things. God has given a majority of women the gift of discernment. The most important ability a wife can have to help protect her family is to be able to ‘Have an eye for the enemy.” She is always watching for the enemy. A mother is very watchful. She see’s things that the kids do, that we as men don’t see them do, and the act took place right in front of our own eyes! We husbands and fathers of the family have a tendency to be very competitive and we have a strong desire to physically protect our family. The wife can help us see people who are dangerous that we didn’t notice. So understand this…the greatest enemy the wife can see, that we as a man rarely ever see, is the “enemy within.” Sometimes, men, the biggest enemy to our family is ourselves. The dad…the husband…the man, we can be the worst enemy. Our pride sometimes prevents us from seeing ourselves as an enemy and a danger to ourselves and to our families. We can be our own worst enemies. Many times we feel like our wives are nagging us about things we could do different or better and it can be deeply frustrating for a man. Even the Bible says that “a nagging wife is like a dripping faucet.” But…what if…we recognized that a majority of the time, our wives aren’t actually nagging us, as much as she is warning us of the enemy in ourselves, that she sees, but we don’t. She is trying to warn us about an up and coming danger because she is discerning that we as the husband/father/man are headed in a direction that is not healthy…and we don’t see it ourselves. We are our own worst enemies. Our wives see it, try to warn us of it, and we want to divorce her. (God hates divorce!) Is this all beginning to make sense?

Do you understand this? She is helping us! She has an eye for the enemy. The problem usually is that when she “alerts” us of this enemy, she does it in a demeaning or disrespectful and damaging way. When this happens we see this as nagging and we don’t listen. But the matter of fact is that she sees an enemy prowling around the “tent” and it happens to be ourselves. Love her for this God given ability, don’t reject her for it. If you are the “AM” of the family and you see your husband becoming an enemy to himself and his family, then figure out a very loving and kind way of alerting him. Disrespecting him and ‘nagging’ him about it will only make it worse.

So…why does God hate divorce? Because He knows a man and woman who make a commitment to one-another (vows) to spend the rest of their lives together being “strong-protectors” of the tent, and all the chaos, but then have sex with other people, or reject one-another because we think we can live better apart, and thus break the vow, will end up worse off.

There is more to this divorce thing…but this is enough to “digest” for now. In a future Hydrate Devotional we will get to some other issues of divorce and marriage.

Don’t divorce your spouse by having sex with another person. Remember sex is marriage. If you have sex with someone else other than your spouse you are divorcing your current spouse and marrying the person you are having sex with. Divorce and Adultery are really the same thing. It is a sin. It is adultery. It is evil.

SWEAT IT OUT:
Recognize each others differences and see them as complimentary protection services.
Talk with your spouse about the ancient Hebrew Hieroglyphics that I have placed in this devotion.
Recognize that you are better together than a part. (Share with each other the things you are thankful for in each other.)
You obviously will have some tensions that you will have to work through. Talk them through with respect and love and gentleness.
Give each other grace and love and forgiveness.
Laugh at yourself a little more. You are not perfect.
Understanding what marriage IS, is the strongest way to prevent divorce and adultery.
Having a great marriage and preventing divorce is not easy. In fact, its extremely difficult. You will have to be unselfish.
Just like Jesus.