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Having Done in Room 1501 (Week 19-22) Passion or Fear in 2015?

Week 19 & 20 in room 1501 at Joy Christian High School were a wrapping up of the entire first semester of the 2014-2015 school year. (Weeks 21 & 22 were Christmas break)FullSizeRender

Week 19 & 20 were a couple of weeks of tidying up Bible Class Notebooks that would serve as the final grade of this first semester of Bible Class.  There were a couple of Zeros I had to give as a final grade.  The Notebooks worthy of being graded actually received a grade as low as 12 out of 100 and some received a 100!  It is quite an experience grading final work.  It shows how much the student cares and for some it simply shows that the student has brilliant strategy.  Strategic students know the educational system.  They know they want to pass the class, get the grade and move on.  Some of the students are doing so incredibly well in the class, that to even take a zero on the notebook, doesn’t drop their grade even a letter grade.  So…a few skipped the notebook and got a zero.

Now, to the rule follower adults reading this, who are shaking your head or even possibly feeling disgusted by this type of student behavior…This strategy actually made me smile.  As a teacher, I gave these students a zero on their final grade and moved on.  I can’t take it personal.  Some of these students who strategically took a zero learned a principle I taught in the first two weeks of Bible Class. They learned about what I call our Personal Hermeneutic.  If you want to know what these 6 levels of Hermeneutic are all about, you can read about it in full detail  here… Week 6 of this blog series of “Having Done in Room 1501”, titled (Spirit Week).  Simply click here.

These few students took ownership in their decision and knew that they could still get an A or even a B by taking a zero on the final project/test of this first semester.  If you read the levels of Hermeneutic, these students did not live in fear of being punished (Avoider), they are not living to please(Pleaser) their teacher or even their parents.  They are not living for some worldly reward (Seeker).  They simply worked hard all semester and knew they had created enough of what I call “grace space” that they could relax/sluff-off and be fine with the final result.

I personally think these students can be the ones who end up being the leaders of our future, because they know how to move forward in life successfully without pleasing everybody around them.  Some of the greatest world changers became what they are because they knew how to strategically break the rules, think outside of the box, generate change, and not be held back by fear of what other’s think.

Please know…I love the students who did the final project perfectly and accomplished an amazing Bible Notebook that is in perfect order. These students too, can have great success, and their work ethic of near perfection, shows it.   The principle I’m trying to point out, is that both example students mentioned above are right.  Just different.  I would bet a lot of money (and I’m not a betting man) that the student who understands the strategy of being able to get away with a zero and still get the grade has more potential at becoming a world changer and leader.  Why?  Usually the person who is in pursuit of the perfect grade, and doing everything by the exact rules laid before them…is someone who is not willing to break outside the box and break a few rules to accomplish something.  Again…this is not about right or wrong.  It’s about style and strategy.mandela and fear

Martin Luther King Jr. had to break a few rules to make change.

Nelson Mandela had to break a few rules to make change.

Benjamin Franklin had to take some huge risks to bring us some incredible inventions.

Michael Jordan failed at the freshman high school basketball tryouts and was cut from the team.

Isaac Newton was told by his teacher that he would never amount to anything.

Beethoven was told to he would never be successful in the music world.

You get the point.Road to success

After all…what is school really about?  Is about getting the best grade? Getting an A?   Is it about doing everything the teacher asks or requires?  No.  It is about the student becoming prepared to be successful in life.  Some of life’s greatest successes happen when we live motivated by our passion and not our fear.   

Are the majority of your decisions you make in life motived out of fear or pursuit of your passion?

I believe your best decisions in life are not the ones that make a lot of sense to other people…even your friends or family.  I think the best decisions in life are made through the understanding of how God made you, what He made you passionate about, and then pursuing those passions through the risk necessary to do what God asks of you.  It’s different for everybody.

The longer I am in the educational and academic system the more I am recognizing that Academia would prefer you to be a robot just like the robot sitting next to you in your class…just like the robots sitting in the Academic Chairs of Authority….so tests are created to make sure you are answering the right robotic questions to make sure you are the robot you should be….measuring all the robots in the industrial robot production lines to other robots.

I’m afraid the average school system is too much like the original line of Henry Ford’s industrial age, assembly line production, of the first car he produced.  These cars came off the assembly line with only one color to choose from, all exactly the same.  It was a great victory for the American way to build a profitable business.  My problem is that it seems that America is stuck in the past of thinking this is still the best process to create success today.  This might be true in the production of material goods, but not in any people business.

I believe our current culture is stuck in the cul-de-sac of the Assembly line age.  Those who are of age to have been influenced by the Industrial age of Assembly lines, are still in leadership of American businesses and are wrestling with the younger generation who have been raised under the influenced of the World Wide Web.  There is a giant traffic jam currently stuck in this Cul De Sac.  It is going to take time and lots of frustration before the traffic takes a U Turn and leaves the Cul de Sac.

Let’s take a moment and think in more detail about what I’m trying to say.   What does Henry Ford and the world of academia have to do with each other?

I do not think Henry Ford’s greatest invention was the Model T car.  In fact Henry Ford didn’t invent the car.  He invented the Model T version of a car. But, I do not think Henry Ford’s greatest influence upon our world came from the Model T…it came from the invention of the Assembly line.  Henry Ford discovered the ability to produce an affordable car through the assembly line that increased the efficiency of manufacture and decreased its cost.  Ford did not conceive the concept, he perfected it. Prior to the introduction of the assembly line, cars were individually crafted by teams of skilled workmen – a slow and expensive procedure. The assembly line reversed the process of automobile manufacture. Instead of workers going to the car, the car came to the worker who performed the same task of assembly over and over again. With the introduction and perfection of the process, Ford was able to reduce the assembly time of a Model T from twelve and a half hours to less than six hours.1926-ford-model-t-assembly-line-photo-338182-s-1280x782

Henry Ford is an inspiration to the USA.  He is a hero to capitalism.  Henry Ford’s style influenced millions of Americans to think differently about production and success.  I think Henry Ford and the other’s who were inspired to copy his style of business might have influenced our American Education System.

Have we created an education assembly line, that maneuvers individual souls down conveyor belts, to Education Assemblers who aim to manufacture products of same-ness?

It is an honest and fair question.  I think the answer is, yes.  And, I think this style has crept into our Churches, Hospitals, HOA’s, Sports world, and many other people circles.

This is why I personally am thrilled to see students jump off the “assembly line”…okay with getting a zero… to live strategically towards their passions, not afraid of the wrath of the Assembly line workers.

I am convinced… greater purpose and fulfillment is achieved through living in your passions and not your fears.  I am also convinced that those who live in their fears will someday arrive at death’s door very safe.  It is terrifying to step out, challenge, and/or ignore the assembly line workers, and live for your passions…but those who push through the terror of stepping out…will be the ones who change something in this world.

Some with a strong Bible understanding, might say that fear can be good, and also might quote the incredibly wise Bible verse of Proverbs 9:10,

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”  

I agree that there is a great purpose in Fear.  Please understand when I celebrate the person who strategically ignores a few rules, that I am not talking about anything that has to do with sin.  When I say I love the person who follows their passion…I am not referring, for even a second, that I celebrate unholy living of any kind.  That is not success.   Some fear is necessary.  The fear of putting your hand on a burning stove.  The fear of being too close to the unguarded edge of the Grand Canyon.  The fear of head on collisions in automobiles. The fear of breaking the heart and will of God.

That’s good fear.

That Bible verse, above…it says the BEGINNING OF WISDOM.  I don’t just want wisdom’s beginning.  I want it’s middle and end.  I want its fullness.  We must have some motivation based from fear.  I’m simply saying we must be very wise in WHO we fear.  I have a serious problem with the RULER Hermeneutic (Clink link and go to Ruler Definition section of that blog).  This type of person believes that if you break their rules, you dishonor God.  This type of person would really have struggled with Jesus in how He confronted the Pharisee’s of His time.   My goodness…Jesus was a rule breaker.  He followed His Passion…To honor ONLY the Will of His Father…at the ignoring of many authority’s rules.

And He was successful.  It didn’t make a lot of sense to the people around Him.  Even those very close to Him…who spent years with Him.  Jesus was so misunderstood because He followed His God given passion.  I wouldn’t say that Jesus ignored His fears…He instead had great courage and trust in His Holy Father that overruled his fear.

It’s not wrong to be afraid.  It’s wrong to listen to your fear at the demise of the Passion that God you to accomplish something for Him.

2015 is Here…ANOTHER YEAR IS ABOUT TO BLAZE BY….What fears are holding you back from living in the Purpose(s) that God is calling you to live for?

What do you fear?  Is it possible that the Devil has instilled some fear in you to try to keep you from doing what God would have you do and be?

I challenge you to really break down your fears by thinking about what it is you truly fear.  When you write down a few things you fear…then…ask yourself Why you fear it.  When you think of the answer…write that down too.  Then ask yourself Why again.  Do this process about 5 or 6 times and I think you will get to the root of what you truly fear.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all Wisdom.  I challenge you to live in complete wisdom…not just in wisdom’s beginning. Complete wisdom will be found by filtering through all the voices in your life and in your head and only listening to the Voice of God.   Listen to only God’s voice.  WARNING NOTE:  God’s voice will never tell you to do something that isn’t already founded in the Bible.  Or, as I like to say it…

GOD’S WILL will never go against GOD’S WORD.

Living for GOD’S Will through God’s Word…will cause you to live as an individual designed by God as an individual, who will stand before God individually to give an account of everything you did.  Don’t be a robot.  God created you as an individual.  If you live in the USA, then you also live in a country that is founded on individuality, filled with truths to be self evident.  You are created to be free.  Live in the Freedom of how God created you to live and follow His guidelines (Bible) of true freedom.  It’s the difference of living for your fears or for your passions.

Happy New Year.

Bring it!

 

 

 


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.


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 14 (Mt.5:25-26) “Before Court”

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”
Matthew 5:25-26, See also Luke 12:57-59.

DRINK IT IN:
I humbly suggest a better idea than what Jesus says in this passage. Live your life in such a way that nobody ever wants to take you to court. Jesus actually said this anyway…Its really not my idea. I should give credit where credit is due! This seems like a simple passage. Jesus knows we live in a fallen world and that we are going to face many trials. It seems clear to me that Jesus was using his own advice found in Matthew 10:16 where He says, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” I translate that passage this way, “Sly as a snake — Innocent as a dove!” I love that passage.

Jesus is a strategist. He is a holy and innocent strategist. I think that we as people have to be very careful about this thing called strategy, because every single one of us is tempted to justify our motives of why we do what we do by simply saying, “its just strategy.” It would be very easy to take advantage of people and call it taking Jesus’ advice about being shrewd. But Jesus also commands us to be innocent. And even stronger than innocent, He calls us to live above reproach. The fact though, is this, Jesus calls us the Sheep, and the people of world, the Wolves. You are to live as a sheep, not a wolf.

I grew up on a farm and for many years we had hundreds of sheep…there may have even been a time where we had a thousand sheep…if not…it seemed like it. I learned from my experience that sheep are fast. Sheep can be very dumb and at other times be very smart. Its easy to cause sheep to panic. Sheep will protect the things they love, like their babies. Sheep are very playful with one another. Sheep love to eat. So, in reality, its a fair comparison for Jesus to call us sheep. Does this sound like ewe? (Bad sheep joke there.)

It does sound like us. Now, we didn’t have wolves on the farm, but we had coyotes.(Close enough.) They would sneak in and kill and steal and destroy. Jesus said, “I am sending you out as sheep among wolves.” Are you ready for me to get personal? Here’s the deal. If you behave like a wolf, you are a not a follower of Jesus, even if you give yourself the “Christian” title. People who call themselves Christians but have the behavior of a wolf are what I call “Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing.” (I said it like I meant it.) I’m not talking about a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” I meant it when I said, “sheep in wolves clothing.” These types of people are really very insecure and weak, but they hide behind their title of Christian and their position of power and they appear tough/wise and strategic, but really are not. This type of person is what we, in America, call a Bully. Bullies really aren’t tough like a wolf…they are insecure inside and have the timid character traits of a sheep, but they put on this tough exterior of words, and positional power and hold all that over people, thus, acting like a wolf. A sheep in wolves’ clothing.

Don’t be a sheep in wolves’ clothing.
Be a sheep. (If this title bothers you, then please take it up with Jesus.)

If you are a sheep then you will have to trust in your Shepherd to protect you. You will have to sometimes finish last and rely on the promise of The Shepherd, “The last shall be first.” This one promise is critical, and it encourages us to live like sheep with confidence in the fact that the Shepherd has our backs! Jesus is our Shepherd and He made sure there would be a Bible created, loaded with wisdom, that would help us live our lives as the kind of sheep, He will return for, and spend eternity with. This Hydrate series is simply a form of teaching from the things Jesus said in the Bible. “Hydrate” is a “thinking out loud” about all the things Jesus commanded or taught in the gospels of the Bible. Hydrate is meant to inspire you and induce within you a desire to focus more on Jesus Christ and understand what He believes about you and asks of you.

All Jesus is saying in this teaching is, “If someone is taking you to court, settle it ahead of time.” He is saying, “Don’t let others determine your future.” I think Jesus is saying, “Your future is your reputation, your position, your hard work, don’t hold onto it all too tightly, but don’t let its’ future be determined by anyone else other than you and me.” Jesus is warning you and me in this passage, to make sure we don’t live in such a way, that we end up being controlled by other people. Jesus is saying the best hands to “land” in are God’s hands and the 2nd best hands to end up in are your own. If you allow yourself and your future to be left in the hands of another person…that’s just not smart and its a form of prison. Its especially not smart when its your adversary. IF you are headed to court with your adversary, settle quickly and keep your future in the hands of God and yourself…not anyone else!

Try to settle ahead of time.
Give.
Take the High Road.
Be sacrificial.
Be like Jesus…who was led “like a lamb to slaughter.”
Do what is necessary to make sure you are able to keep your eyes on eternity. That means be “sly” and “innocent.”

If you fight for the things of the world and win…it’s probably the only reward you’re going to end up with. (I Hope you REALLY enjoy it!) Jesus warned us in other passages of the Bible by saying something like this…I paraphrase… “If you do anything on earth for a reward, that is the only reward you are going to get.” Then He says, “Store up for yourselves treasure in Heaven!” Think of it this way…To those who live for this world…this is as close to Heaven as they are going to get. For those who sacrifice now and live for Heaven…this is as close to Hell as they are going to get.

There is so much more to live for in eternity. Don’t fight so hard for the now.
Fight for eternity.

SWEAT IT OUT:
Are there THINGS in your life, that you have in your own grip so tightly controlled, that God can’t even use it, because you won’t let go of it and trust Him with it?
Here are some ideas when I say “Things you control”…
“Your” work’s success.
“Your” Marriage.
“Your” Children.
“Your” Money.
“Your” Security.
“Your” Habits.
“Your” goals.
“Your” material items.
“Your” stress.
The list could go for miles…

I don’t want to get to detailed on this one. You are smart enough to know if you are holding on to something to tightly and controlling it.
The question is, will you be honest enough with yourself to admit that you are trying too hard and holding on too tightly with____________________________________? (I dare you to fill in the blank and then trust God with it!)

Here are some closing thoughts. Jesus says, “settle things quickly before you go to court.” Now, why again? Because if it goes to court you allow your life and future to be determined by someone else other than you or God. That’s not a good place to be. So…think about the following Bible verses and work with a determined heart to live accordingly.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Romans 12:18

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
Romans 14:19

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Matthew 22:21

Is God “speaking” to you right now about some change you could make in your life about anything that you have just read.

Who are you waiting on to make the change for you?
You are “sly” enough to know that you are the one who makes change in your own life.
Stay sly…and remember…its more important to be innocent.
Sly and Innocent are what Jesus asks you to be.
To know Jesus asks us this, is empowering.
You own the daily choices that determine WHO holds your future.
Keep your future in the hands of God and yourself.
That’s the good life.


Retweeting Jesus “RT@JesusChrist #14”

Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands! –JC
Luke 23:46

The very next sentence that Luke records in the Bible is, “And with those words He breathed His last.” (Would you pause for a few seconds and quietly thank Jesus for what He suffered through so that we, His followers, would be forgiven and free?)

Jesus’ last words on the cross were a Tweet of Trust. Of Letting go. Of ultimate submission. He could have controlled. But He chose to trust His Father in Heaven with the control.

The way Jesus “behaved” on the cross must have made quite an impression on the Roman Guards. Luke records that one of the guards said something right after Jesus breathed His last. Its recorded in Luke 23:47, “When the Roman Officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.”

Can you imagine the burden and sorrow this Roman Officer carried home with him? I imagine it haunted him the rest of his life. I wonder if this Roman Officer was aware of what happened 3 days and 3 nights later. If he did know that Jesus rose from the dead, was it good news for him, or did it only make him feel worse about how he had to oversee and approve of in the killing of Jesus?

I hope to meet this Roman officer someday. It says that he worshiped God, so I am hoping he became a true follower of Jesus after Jesus rose from the dead. I’d like to ask this Roman officer some questions about that horrible day at the cross. I’d love to hear his full version of the story.

So Jesus says…”Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands.”

The human side of Jesus at the tweeting of this sentence must have been a bit nervous. Of course Jesus knew He was going to raise from the dead in 3 days and 3 nights. I still think the human side of Jesus had to of struggled in this final moment. He spent 33 years walking the land, encountering people and representing the Father in Heaven perfectly. We know that the Father never let Jesus down…but the “what-ifs” might have tempted Jesus to have bouts of nervousness while hanging on the cross. I wonder if those 33 years flew by or if it was one long day after another. He sure was mistreated a lot. But I also believe that Jesus laughed a lot. I mean…most of His time was spent with 12 other guys. You know how guys are when they camp together, walk together, spend a lot of time with each other. The fun side of Jesus had to of played some pranks on the guys. When a group of guys get together, somebody is trying to scare someone, sooner or later. Have you ever wondered if Jesus’ miracle of walking on water wasn’t to top a previous attempt by one of the Apostles’ at one of their “Gotcha!” moments? I don’t know. It sure seems like Christians have settled into believing that Jesus didn’t have any fun. We all know He faced many hardships and sorrows. The book of Isaiah says this in a couple prophecies about the Messiah. We know that Jesus faced unbelievable mistreatment at the hands of His own created people. But I still hold onto the hope that Jesus laughed…a lot. Surely, after Jesus caused the Blind man to see, while walking away from this miraculous moment and talking with the Apostles about it, surely Jesus said….”Hey guys…did you see the look on the faces of the religious leaders when I healed that blind man?” Or when He raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus had been dead for four days. Lazarus’ sister warned Jesus that it was too late and not to open the tomb for the smell would be unbearable. I wonder if Jesus, after raising Lazarus from the dead whispered in Martha’s ear, “I told you so,” and then laughed a laugh of love and joy…while giving her the perfect hug. Think about it…you have to be a pretty “fun guy,” to be accused by the religious leaders of being a “drunkard and a glutton.” We know Jesus wasn’t a sinner of any kind…but He must have had some fun to be blamed for being a drunk.

Well…as I wrap up this “Retweeting Jesus” series, I am wondering if you and I can trust like Jesus did. “Father…I ENTRUST my spirit into your hands.”

Its crazy what we ENTRUST in. How much trust do you put in that Red Light really causing everybody to stop and not go through the intersection? How much trust to do you place in that dotted line as you drive on that two lane highway? How much trust did I place in the parachute when I sky dived? How much trust do we place in the hands of pilots and airplanes as we fly through the air at 30,000 feet? How much trust do we place in the hands of construction workers and architects as we drive over their bridges, live under their beams? How much trust do we place in the hands of physicians as they “put us to sleep,” and then use a scalpel and cut us open and literally replace organs of our bodies? We really are a trusting people. It doesn’t seem like it, but if you really think about all that we trust…we are a trusting people.

But do we really “Entrust” God…enough to…

forgive?
tithe?
help a stranger?
let go of controlling your spouse?
commit to a church every weekend?
apologize for harm we caused?
not judge others?
resist temptation and peer pressure?
not manipulate the situation?
not abuse or manipulate our power of position?
not belittle others to boost our own self-esteem?
let go and let God?

On that cross…Jesus died and His Spirit left the earthly physical body it was borrowing and went into the control of God.

Its a safe and perfect place to land. You can be confident leaving your full trust In the hands of a loving God. He really is a God of love. If you don’t believe that right now, then I challenge you to read the other Tweets I have posted in this series. You can’t read them and walk away thinking God isn’t totally love!

If you are struggling letting go of anything in your life and you are trying to control whatever it is that you can’t let go of…is it working for you?

Its hard work to control.
Its stressful.
It takes a lot of focus.
Its tiring.
It will wear you out.

There is a lot of freedom that comes with being so fulfilled and whole in Jesus Christ that you don’t have to control anything.
That’s the good life. It fees you to serve, and give and love.

What are you controlling?
What would happen if you chose to let it go and trust God with the results?

Q: How do you do let “it” go and trust God with the results?
A: You put all your focus and energy in behaving like Jesus Christ and leave the results in the hands of God.

The early church was great at this. In Acts chapter 2 it says that the “Christians” gathered everyday and they DEVOTED themselves to the Apostles teaching, to fellowship, sharing in meals and to prayer.

Think about those “actions.” Can those actions be actions blamed for being CONTROLLING?
Have you ever heard anybody say, “You are so controlling…all you do is pray!”
Have you ever heard anybody say, “You are so controlling…please stop reading the Bible and learning!”
Have you ever heard anybody say, “You are so controlling…all you are is a good friend to others.”
Have you ever heard anybody say, “You are so controlling…please stop sharing your meals with others.”

Those statements are almost too ridiculous to type them out. Those are actions of trust and faithfulness and have nothing to do with control.

Are you thinking about what you might be controlling right now?
What if you asked somebody who really knows you well? Would they say you are trying to control something in your life?

Let’s keep going for clarity on this issue.

If you are just focused on getting a certain end result…then you are probably trying to control it.
If you are just focused on responsibility and doing what is right and focusing on holy behavior…then you are probably not being controlling.

Maybe a good way to look at it is through what we call, Cause and Effect.

You can’t control causes.
You can control effects.

What are some causes in your life that you simply serve? (trust)
What are some effects/outcomes that you are trying to force to happen? (control)

You are going to have to think on this one.

Here’s what I know for sure. You are made in the image of God and Jesus Christ.

Jesus ENTRUSTED everything into the hands of God the Father.
You are to be like Jesus because you were made in His image.
What must you let go of when it comes to the final results and just trust God by being faithful and let God take care of the results?

Can you and will you pray the following prayer right now and then back it up with action?

“Father in Heaven…I entrust everything in my life into your hands. Help me have the strength to behave like Jesus and leave my life results in your control. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.”

If you really want to get specific and let go of control.
Then ask a trusted person in your life to listen to you pray the above prayer out loud in front of them. And instead of praying using the word “everything,” replace the word everything with a specific thing you are controlling. Be specific…in the presence of a trusted witness.

Now that would take a lot of trust and would force you to let go of control. That is true accountability.

I know how good this would be for you and your whole life. It would be so good for you I would like to force you to do it.

But that would be controlling.

I want to ENTRUST!
How about you?


Retweeting Jesus “RT@JesusChrist #13”

“It is finished.” — JC
John 19:20 (NLT)

Surely you have used this phrase before? I have spoken this after completing a Final Exam, book report, doing the backyard or eating a a large pizza all by myself.

When is the last time you said, “It is finished?”

When Jesus says this, He speaks it from the Roman Executioner’s Cross just seconds before his heart beats its last beat. He has just spent the last 18 hours going through unspeakable torment. It is Finished, is a statement of a champion. And in this case…the meaning behind this phrase impacts every person on earth from the past and every person to yet exist in the future.

When Jesus says from the cross, or as I have been pretending, “Tweets” it from the cross. Every Roman follower of Jesus’ Tweets would have perfectly understood in context what He meant. Keep reading…

You see in the Roman empire the Death penalty could be carried out in several different forms. Crucifixion or beheading were the two most popular death sentences given to non-military law breakers. The Roman Empire wanted to be known as fierce and they also wanted to avoid being known as uncivilized. So they had a death sentence “program” that was swift yet brutal. Swift so as not to be too cruel and unusual, but brutal enough to warn a potential criminal that Rome meant business when it came to following their laws.

The military had a few death penalty ways about them that could strike fear in the heart of anybody and hopefully would prevent a potential law breaker from going through with his plan. Here are some of the ways a Roman Military person could be put to death if they caused Rome to be embarrassed or if they broke the military code of ethics. If while on night watch as a Roman guard, the guard fell asleep, and his superior officer actually caught him sleeping, the commanding officer would awaken the sleeping guard, have his clothes stripped off to his ankles, then light the clothes around his ankles on fire and the guard would be burned alive. (One didn’t want to fall asleep on duty. They didn’t have energy drinks then, either!) Another tactic that Roman Officers would use when trying to find the culprit in a military regiment that had “messed up,” was to line the whole group up along a tall cliff. The entire Roman Army Regiment would then walk to the edge of the cliff and literally, while standing, put their toes on the edge of the cliff, and of course, everybody would be looking down, fearful of what could happen. The Officer in charge of the regiment would walk behind each of the soldiers as they stood on the edge of the cliff and would be yelling at them to identify the person who “screwed up,” broke the law, or embarrassed Rome due to negligence. If there wasn’t anybody in the entire Roman Regiment that would “Nark” out the guilty person, then the Officer in charge would begin to walk behind the group and push one soldier at a time off the cliff and have the group watch this person fall to his death. The hopes of the officer was that somebody would finally point out the offender, or the offender would finally confess and then be pushed to his own death, saving the lives of the others in the regiment.

If there was no cliff to be found in the area then the Roman Officer would have his regiment of soldiers line up anyway. He would take out a cup that he carried with him for this very purpose. The cup would be filled with a mixture of Hemlock. Hemlock is a lethal poison. Whether you drink a little or a lot, it is going to kill you. (Hemlock is the poison in the story of Romeo and Juliet. It is also how Socrates was given the death sentence) This cup that the Roman Officer carried would be filled with the Hemlock mixture and was known as “The Cup of Suffering” in the Roman Empire. In the Roman Empire if an officer in charge had to use the cup of suffering there was only one rule…The cup had to be completely drank for the officer in charge to be satisfied that “the crime” committed was paid for. So imagine the Roman Regiment lined up. If the officer had an idea of who the offending soldier might have been he would place that soldier in the first position, the front of the line. He would give the cup of suffering to that first soldier. Now the soldier has a moral dilemma. The first soldier knows that he is going to die whether he drinks a little of this cup of suffering or if he drinks the whole thing. If the first soldier drinking from the cup of suffering only drinks a little, he then would have to pass the cup to the next in line. That next soldier would have to drink a little and then pass it on to the next. However…if anybody in the line wanted to spare the lives of everybody else, down the line, all he had to do was drink the whole cup of suffering himself. If the soldier chose to drink the whole cup of suffering, he would drink the whole cup, give the cup to the officer in charge and the officer would say, “IT IS FINISHED!”

Do you get what Jesus did, when He “tweeted” from the cross, “IT IS FINISHED!”

Jesus was saying, “I will take all the punishment upon myself and spare everybody else for all time past and future.”

However…please think about this with me…this is important…Just approximately 24 hours earlier, Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane and was begging His Father in Heaven to do what?

“Father, Please take this CUP OF SUFFERING away from me!” Jesus begged His Father three times this exact request.

Understanding the Roman’s Cup of Suffering brings about a lot more depth of meaning to this whole situation doesn’t it?

Do you have a child or children? Can you imagine one of your children coming to you…and by the way…this child coming to you has been the PERFECT child, literally. This child whom you love so intensely begs you to not do something. But this something he is begging you not to do is so intensely painful and humiliating. How could you follow through and give the go ahead and then watch it happen to your child? You give the “go-ahead” to have your perfectly innocent child beaten to an inch of his life, stripped naked in front of everybody, you watch him get beaten over the head with clubs, they force a huge thorn crown down upon his bleeding head, make him carry his own cross through the streets while people spit and jeer him. You continue to watch the people throw your perfect child on top of the cross beam and drive nails into his hands and feet. Dislocating his shoulder or both shoulders. Laughing and jeering the whole time. They then hoist the cross, with him nailed to it, to an upright position where you have to watch your only perfect child literally suffocate to death, fighting for air.

I couldn’t do it. If I had to pick who was going to go through that kind of agony to pay for all mankind’s sins. And my choice is between my own perfect child and you…the one who sinned and brought this whole curse to a reality. I’m sorry…You would die. Not my only perfect child.

How much does the Heavenly Father love you? How much does the Heavenly Father love you that He chose for you to live and have His perfect son, His only child, pay the price instead?

REALLY…HE CHOSE YOU TO LIVE. HE MADE JESUS DRINK THE CUP OF SUFFERING INSTEAD OF YOU.

This is the way God desires us to be everyday of our lives. Sacrificial, Giving, Loving, Serving, Accepting.
That’s what He did for you. That’s what He did for me. By doing this, God demonstrated to us how much He loves us and accepts us without having us do a single thing to earn His acceptance. In fact the Bible says that while we were sinners, God absolutely accepted us by having His son die for us…again…while we were still sinning, we were accepted by God. By God giving His only Son as a replacement for us on the cross. (To drink the Cup of Suffering) It shows that you can’t do one thing to earn God’s acceptance and love for you. It is a gift. That gift was given when Jesus was placed on the cross instead of you. Oh, I wish all people lived in this kind of behavior. Let me demonstrate by inserting a diagram below.

The image I have inserted below is an image that demonstrates, perfectly, the difference between Love’s way and Control’s way. I wish I could say that I created the diagram. I did not. Credit is due to the Life Training Material we used to teach at Parkway Christian Church. If you would like to check this full material out then look up www.vcli.org. Vcli stands for Victorious Christian Living. They are headquartered in Phoenix AZ. The material is actually called S.A.L.T. (Seven Areas of Life Training) Its good stuff. The following thoughts are from this material.

God is Love. He COULD control, but He chooses to demonstrate his power and position by Love not control. Please be “self-aware” enough to know which way you live your life and lead the people you influence. Do you live/lead by Control or by Love?

As you can see, Love doesn’t make you earn anything. Love gives you total acceptance first. Love gives you an “A” and then allows you to earn an “F” if you want to. Love says, “I have AUTHORITY to make you earn my acceptance, but I am going to ACCEPT you first and show you how much I love you. When you know how much I love and accept you, you will feel AFFIRMED by be. As you feel affirmed by me, then you will desire to be ACCOUNTABLE to me and when you choose to be accountable to me, you acknowledge that I am an AUTHORITY in your life.

That is God’s way. That is the way God wants you to live and lead others. It will take you totally trusting in God as you live and lead this way.

People, who have a problem with God, usually think that God leads using the Control side of the diagram.
They have had either a controlling parent or too many controlling people in their life.
They have been forced to submit to the person in authority first. It goes like this…
Somebody, with power, demands that you follow their AUTHORITY, period. They do this by forcing you to be ACCOUNTABLE to their rules/style/ways. When you prove you are being accountable to their authority, then the person in authority will begin to AFFIRM you. “Keep up the good work, you are really catching my attention,” they say. As you keep up the good work because you want this person’s affirmation and you continue to work for their affirmation and you stand the test of time…you will finally be ACCEPTED by the person in authority.

How Horrible. Right? Thank God, that God and Jesus didn’t do this to all of us!

This is the way of corporate and worldly living. This is the way of control. People who control are living as if they are God. You agree, right, that ” all control” belongs to God?

So…I say…THANK GOD that God leads us using the Love side of the diagram. God accepts first. How wonderful.
The Cup of Suffering that was given to Jesus proves it.

“IT IS FINISHED.”
That means you don’t HAVE to have control. God’s got that part.
ACCEPT first.
God didn’t force you to make Him your Authority.
Why do you make others bow to your Authority? (If you do.)

God’s Got your Back.
(Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Live like God in all your ways and He will take care of the rest.) That’s my version of Proverbs 3:5-6.

Accept first. Love first. Trust first. You really didn’t EARN anything in your life that you have. You might pridefully think you did. But everything is a gift from the Lord. Everything.

Our School Teachers are a perfect demonstration point on this. Depending on the teacher’s personality and whether or not they are power hungry, they can start you, as a student, with either an “A” or an “F”. The grades work out the same either way in the end.
Everyday you can tell the attitude difference between the teacher that accepts you first and teaches as if you have an “A.” Versus the teacher that has the attitude of not accepting you first and you come into class with the teacher seeing you as a student starting with an “F.” Its an obvious difference and everybody knows it except the teacher.
Which teacher is better to sit under as a student?
Which teacher do you actually WANT to learn from ?
Which teacher really is better at teaching?
Get it?

It Is Finished!
You don’t have to control anything.
Live for others like Jesus lives & died for you.

In your marriage, does your spouse start the day with an “A” or an “F”?
In your workplace, do those “under” you start their job with an “A” or an “F”? (BTW…Jesus washed the feet of those “under” Him.)
In your parenting do your kids start the day with an “A” or an “F”?
In your friendships do your friends start each day with an “A” or an “F”?
In your everyday life as you drive, do totally dumb drivers get to start with an “A” or an “F”? Ohhh…that’s a hard one for me! Can you tell? LOL
Shopping for Groceries does the lady slapping her kids at the check out counter start with an “A” or an “F”?
Waiting in line…wherever…did the guy that cut in line start with an “A” or an “F”?

Give people in your life an “A” first and then you’ll be following the example of Jesus Christ. Fully accept first. Then work from there.
How they treat the “A” you gave them is up to them. There comes a time where that “A” starts dwindling to a “B” or a “C”…its then you and I need to confront the offender…if you wait until they get an “F” to confront…well…that’s just a tough meeting! Its hard work. Never quit working on it. We all have shortfalls. If we follow the teaching of Jesus to treat others like we like to be treated, then hopefully that gives us a few more “A’s” in our pocket to hand out to others. Make sense?
Can I help you with anything?

All right…I can finally say about this long blog…
“It Is Finished!”