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HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 13 (Mt.5:23-24) “Reconcile”

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
Matthew 5:23-24

DRINK IT IN:
What the heck does RECONCILIATION really mean?

I think we can all agree on, for the most part, what Jesus is saying about offering a gift at the altar. The whole purpose of offering a gift at the altar is to give thanks to God for how much He loves us and for giving us the gift of forgiveness. Therefore it is hypocritical to offer a gift of thanksgiving for forgiveness and at the same time hold forgiveness back from others in our lives or have unreconciled relationships. Its a double standard.

Do you agree with me that God will not honor double standards? So, when the offering plate is passed and you are withholding forgiveness from anyone, don’t give until you have pursued forgiveness or have given forgiveness. If the communion tray is coming your way during a worship service, same thing, don’t partake until you have pursued reconciliation. If you are about to preach or teach the Word of God. If you are about to Lead Worship or sing on the vocal team. If you are about serve in the Children’s ministry. If you are about to work in your Church’s cafe, fold bulletins, make phone calls for the church, serve in the youth ministry, stack chairs, sweep floors….ANYTHING that you do for your local church as a form of work or volunteering is a form of “offering a gift at the altar” of God. Its ALL worship. Any worship that has a double standard will be rejected by God.

Bottom line…if we offer gratefulness and love and repentance to God without offering it to others around us, God wont accept our offering. Paul actually warns us in his letter to the Corinthians that if we take communion in an unworthy manner, it is the reason some of us are sick and even have died. This is a serious matter. Let me reinforce this notion a little stronger with a verse from the Bible. Matthew 6:15 says, “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” This is big deal. Unforgiven people do not enter Heaven. If we don’t forgive others or apologize to others then we won’t be forgiven by God. Please do not be unforgiven. I love the passage of 1 John 1:9, ‘If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Please make sure you are offering forgiveness to those who have hurt you. And make sure you are apologetic and repentant to those whom you have harmed. You can’t control how they respond to you, you can only control yourself. I would like to teach on forgiveness here, but there will be a better time in a future Hydrate Devotion. Let me say this before I move on to the subject at hand. Granting somebody forgiveness is more for yourself than for the person who harmed you. Giving forgiveness allows you to let it go and move on with your life. I love what Mother Theresa said about forgiveness. She said, “If you can’t forgive your offender, its like drinking poison and hoping it will kill them.” Think about that. More to come on forgiveness in the near future.

Back to point…
I want to get to something critical that most people have forgotten about. Reconciliation. What exactly is it? My immediate thoughts about reconciliation lead me to think about extreme situations. For instance. What does it mean for a woman who has been raped, to reconcile with her rapist? What does it mean for a child who has been sexually abused by a family member to reconcile with that family member? What does it mean for a man, who has faced harm and heartache from another man in his life, to be reconciled with him? If you have been fired and hold bitterness towards your previous boss, what does it mean to be reconciled? If you have gone through a very nasty divorce and enormous amounts of pain were experienced in the marriage and divorce, what does it mean to be reconciled? If someone murdered your family, what would it mean to reconcile with the murderer? Do see how this issue isn’t so simple?

So what does it mean to forgive and reconcile? Now the Cynic in me wants to write out the typical “Sunday School Answer.” This answer would go something like this, “Well, Trent, you know that Jesus was harmed by you because of your sins. Even though you hurt Jesus, He went to the cross for you anyway. And, Trent, even while you abused Him some more while He was on the cross, He said, “Father forgiven them, for they don’t know what they are doing. So, Trent…when someone harms you, you must ‘Let Go and Let God’ and everything will be alright, so let it go and go in peace.”

I wish it were that easy.

So, let me take a shot at this reconciliation idea, and hopefully when its done, we will have an answer that is actually helpful to us all.

I think we first have to define reconcile. I would like to say that reconcile means “to resolve a problem to the approval of one or both parties involved.” You may ask, “why not both parties?” In the case of a murderer, sexual abuser, and many other kinds of offenders, I don’t think we can resolve the issue to the approval of both parties. In my opinion, when an abuser breaks the law with any extreme case of harm, they quit acting “human” and they may still be human, but in their non-human behavior they lose their rights to decide the resolution process that is necessary. In other words, some offenses are so harmful to others that the offender loses his/her rights as a human to decide for themselves what is best for moving forward towards reconciliation. They must receive swift and strong punishment for their non-human behavior. This offender, in their choice to harm, also gave away their rights to determine their future fate. (Crime never pays…it only kills, steals and destroys.) In fact, nearly every offender…no matter the offense, loses their immediate rights to help set what happens next in the relationship. In their choice to sin and cause harm, they become disqualified to dictate what happens next, and will find themselves at the mercy of other people, especially the person they abused/offended/harmed.

So what is reconciliation in these extreme cases? The answer is really left in the hands of the offended party or the hands of the law, in which, the offended party still has most of the influence and power. i.e. They can Press charges, seek revenge, grant forgiveness, etc.

The individual doesn’t have to have any kind of relationship with their offender into the future if they do not want to. The offender might even be a family member, but that doesn’t mean the one who is harmed has to be fully present in the offenders life again…and then call that reconciliation. (Reconciliation does not necessarily means physically present in each others lives again.)

I think RECONCILIATION means that both parties will stand before God someday in full knowledge that God gave the free gift of His only Son to forgive their sins. These individuals, in order to stand before God RECONCILED, must have either apologized for their offense and changed their behavior (repented), or granted forgiveness to their offender. What happens from this point on between these two parties is solely up to any one of the two parties. If either paty freely chooses not to have any further relationship with the other, then that is still reconciliation and is good.

What reconciliation does do, is fully removes, bitterness, anger, hurt, revenge, or anything else even close to those evil characteristics and actions, but it does not mean that full physical restoration into each other’s lives is essential for reconciliation to take place.

Some might argue that Jesus is not that way…even after we abused Him, He forgave and His kind of reconciliation is full reinstatement of relationship, physical presence and a continued healthy relationship with one another.

I would reply to that argument that this is the ultimate end goal result of any abusive situation. I think everybody would agree that it would be a miraculous and beautiful thing for this kind of reconciliation to take place. However…People are not Jesus! Jesus’ kind of reconciliation is the ultimate kind. Jesus’ kind of reconciliation is one directional. By this I mean that Jesus, after being abused, laid down His own life to pay for the sins of His offender and this was to Honor the Father more than anyone else. Then, Jesus took up His life at the resurrection and proceeded to approach His offenders/us with an open invitation to reconcile by actually moving into our hearts and living in us, if we the offender accepted His offer. This is the PERFECT and ULTIMATE form of reconciliation and is only possible if the offended party offers it. However it is not the only kind of reconciliation. It is a very different kind of reconciliation when one of the two parties in the relationship is The Perfect Son of God! We live in a fallen world and the relationships we have amongst one another are between two fallen and imperfect people. This fact creates a different kind of reality and creates different kinds of acceptable forms of reconciliation.

So, whatever the example of hurt relationships, offenses and abuses above…full reconciliation does not mean that
both parties have to be “in” each others lives physically again. It DOES mean that somewhere, somehow, and sometime there is/was facilitated a peaceful ENDING of the conflict. There is a mutual acknowledgment that “things” are okay and everybody will do well to move forward with their lives. (To the offenders…prison or other consequences is moving forward.)

Reconciliation also means that there are now firm boundaries that have been set in place, and frankly, both parties do not have to be in agreement, or even like the new boundaries. But boundaries will have been established and they will be followed. The reality is, when boundaries have to be set, it is only the offending party that doesn’t like the new boundaries. Boundaries are set to protect and honor the offended from being hurt again AND they are set to protect the offender from harming again. Reconciliation does not mean free from all consequences. Only offending parties/law breakers/abusers desire to have no consequences. New boundaries are what wise people do as a consequence of evil behavior happening to them. It would be wise to warn the “boundary setter” to guard the motives of “why” the boundaries are being set. If the boundaries are set as a form of revenge or getting even, then true forgiveness hasn’t taken place, and now the boundary setter is beginning to have sinful reactions. This is not reconciliation in any form. However, if boundaries are not set, the abuser/offender might still expect to be in control of your new “reconciled” relationship. You need to set and enforce the boundaries of the new relationship. When it comes to actually setting boundaries and trying to decide what are good boundaries and what are boundaries that go to far, its important to ask a few of questions.

SWEAT IT OUT:
a.) Do you want your abuser/offender in close proximity of you again? (Physically, Emotionally, Mentally, Spiritually, or Socially?)
b.)What do you wish to gain by bringing your abuser/offender back into your life?
c.) Will your life improve by having this person back in your life?
d.) Is the abuser/offender aware, with total clarity, your desires in the answers to the questions above?

Its tiring isn’t it? God never intended for our world and our relationships to be this way. But they are and we need to become wiser in how we deal with it all. This is a serious issue or Jesus would have never taught about it.

If you have been abused by anyone with any kind of abuse, if you are carrying hurt, anger and lack of forgiveness in your heart and life, and you think you can deal with it all on your own. You will be in big trouble. I want to encourage you to seek out a well known and credible Christian Counselor and ask for help. Pay for help. The cost of not handling any of this right is way more expensive than paying somebody by the hour to help you do it right!

Do you have anybody in your life, that when you think of them, you know you have an unreconciled relationship with them? If you do, either apologize for your sinful behavior or tell them you are forgiving them for their sinful behavior. (Remember…you cannot control how they respond, you can only be responsible for your own action.) If you cannot work on reconciliation yet, then please don’t ask God to forgive you for your sins, because He won’t hear your prayer. Don’t give anything to God, for it won’t be accepted. Don’t pretend to be holy because it will be a double standard. Does this sound too harsh? It is harsh. It’s harsh because ETERNITY is at stake and your soul is in the balance. SEEK RECONCILIATION NOW. NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT.

Keep working on your relationships. It is a daily battle that will rage on until your very last breath. It is a worthwhile and holy battle. This battle is all to often a battle that is not about flesh and blood as much as it is about what is called Spiritual Warfare waging all around you. I pray you will do your very best to not have sinful reactions when other people sin against you, but you will forgive, set new boundaries and have a new reconciled relationship. Remember that reconciliation has many different forms. It is easier said than done. Remember this…Hurt people…hurt people. So when someone hurts you, try to discover how they have been previously hurt and are simply having sinful reactions in that hurt. Make sense? Hurt people, hurt people.
When you are hurt…don’t have sinful reactions and repeat the hurt. Break the vicious cycle by seeking “RECONCILIATION.”

I can’t think of anything harder in life to do, than reconciliation.
Let’s end with this…
Hurt people, hurt people.
Forgiven people, forgive people.
Which one are you.
Its a choice.
Choose well…according to Jesus it has eternal consequences.


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 10 (Mt.5:14-16) “Light”


“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

DRINK IT IN:
Have you ever seen light run from Darkness? Have you ever seen a strip of darkness piercing through the middle of a light room? No Way. But, we know what it looks like to be in a dark room and see a glance of light streaming through the darkness. This “sword” of light always strikes a gleam of hope in my heart. It always provides a touch of comfort. It lets me know that in the middle of darkness there is something on the outside that is piercing the darkness.

In this simple teaching, Jesus is using some common sense word pictures to make people think about how He created us to be. Let me rewrite Jesus’ teaching in a way that I think Jesus meant it to literally be.
“You–My followers–are the light of the world. You are to be like a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. Don’t become a Christian and be secretive about it. Instead, SHINE ON, and give light to everyone in the world. Yes, you as Christians, let your light shine before the whole world, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

I love how Jesus just “rubs in” what is supposed to be the brightness and greatness of a Christian. He is saying that we as Christians GLOW. We should glow and it makes no sense to give our lives to Him and then hide it.

My fear in this kind of talk from Jesus is that it will empower the wacko. Nowhere does Jesus say in this passage that you should shout out negative, hurtful, hateful things from across the street at people who are far from Him. In fact that would cause Kingdom damage. That would push people farther from God. That would actually be contributing to darkness. Peter wrote in the Bible, that we are always supposed to be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have, but we should do it with gentleness and respect. So…Don’t be a wacko. Be light. Be love. Be peace. Be patience. Be joy. Be kindness. Be goodness. Be faithfulness. Be gentleness. Be self-control. Be respectful. Be like Jesus. Be light!

SWEAT IT OUT:
Are you being secretive, in any way or form, about being a follower of Jesus?
If you are, what are you afraid of?

Think of somebody today that is “stuck in a dark room” of sin/shame/evil/hopelessness/depression/loneliness/etc. Be a piercing streak of light in their life and help them smile and shine. Give them a taste of Heaven today by being the light that Jesus referred to.

If you behave this way. If you put the high-beams of your faith on for all the world to experience…they WILL give PRAISE to THE FATHER IN HEAVEN.

What a blindingly halogenic 🙂 objective for today…
Did you notice the word halogenic has the word halo in it?
SHINE ON.


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 #6”

But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice. –JC Luke 11:28(NLT)

Did you know that the word “Obey” is not in the Old Testament? You might find the words Obedience, Obedient, and Obey in our English translations, but there is no word ‘Obey’ in the Hebrew Old Testament original language and writing. We just translated it that way. Okay…okay…for you doubters, go ahead and get your study tools out and test what I am saying. The Bible does say “Test everything!” Go ahead and then come back. I highly recommend that you use a Hebrew Interlinear to discover this truth for yourself.

Crazy to think that in the Old Testament times they never would have heard the word “Obey” from anyone, not even from God.

There is a philosophy that exists that says this…if you have to say it, then you probably aren’t really doing a good job of it. Perry Noble, Pastor of New Spring Church in NC said recently on his blog… www.perrynoble.com

“Does Martha Stewart have to declare she is a good cook?
Does Drew Brees have to declare that he is a good quarterback?
Does Taylor Swift have to declare that she can sing?
Does Lebron James have to declare he can dunk a basketball?
Does B.B. King have to declare that he can play the blues?
Does John Grisham have to declare that he can write fiction really well?

Perry makes a good point in those questions above. It is my opinion that If you, your church, or your business are constantly declaring that you ARE something then I think its fair to say that you might be trying to convince your self. The reality is this, you aren’t who you are because of what you are declaring, but rather because of what you are doing. Anyone can declare that they can do something or be something. Jesus says in Matthew 11:19 that, “wisdom is shown to be right by its results.” I would translate that, “Talk is Cheap,” or “Action speaks louder than words.”

Ask yourself, “Am I doing a lot of talking in an area of my life, but in reality I have no proof that I’m actually doing what I’m continually saying?” I would encourage you to ask the people around you if you are saying a lot of something, but not actually doing it. Or, if you have the capability to actually measure the facts as to your success of what you are saying, then do the study and get the facts. I was recently a part of a group that said over and over that they were actually doing something and they even said publicly that they did it better than most. So I took the time to actually measure whether or not they were actually doing what they were saying. When the facts and the proof statistics came back to me. It was clear that my group was just saying this as a marketing tool, but actually weren’t doing very good at it at all. Are there areas in your life that the same thing is happening in your case? Are you saying something…a lot…but you’re really not putting it into practice or showing any results proving it?

“But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”

This tweet from Jesus was in response to a person that shouted at him from the crowd. The person who shouted said, “God Bless your mother, the womb from which you came, and the breasts that nursed you!” LOL. What a strange shout out. I have had many people shout some funny, cool, and even mean stuff from the crowd when I was preaching. But never anything like this one! Can you imagine? Jesus’ reply was simple. “But even more blessed are all who hear the Word of God and put it into practice!”

Practice Makes Permanent!

So back to my point…Instead of the word “OBEY” God had them use the word “LISTEN.” For the people of the Old Testament to “Hear” WAS to “Obey.” In the Hebrew culture, to hear the word of God or to listen to a person in authority automatically obligated you to do what the person of authority was saying.
TO HEAR was to OBEY. They didn’t have to use the word obey. If they heard it they were obligated to do it…thus their is no need for the word obey, because I think God knows that talk can be cheap. Hear = Do. It puts a new spin on the frequent phrase in the Old Testament, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is one!” Do you understand? There is a lot of meaning now in the phrase, “HEAR O Israel!”

We actually understand this in our Western Culture. If you are a parent and you tell your children to do something but they don’t actually do it. What do you typically say to them when you noticed they didn’t do what you asked of them? I’ll speak for myself here, but I actually say to my kids, “Why are you not LISTENING to me?” Or, “Did you not HEAR me?” I am guessing when I ask this of my kids they think to themselves… “I HEARD you, I just didn’t DO what you asked of me.” It’s rare to actually hear a parent ask of their kids. “Why didn’t you Obey me.” We usually ask, Why did you not listen to me?”

Knowing this…how might it change you? Do you understand now the importance of not just reading the Bible, but doing what we “hear” from it?

Jesus said some things about this…

“Why do you call me Lord, when you don’t do what I say?” Luke 6:46
“Not everyone who SAYS to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father.” Matthew 7:21
James writes, “Do not merely listen to the Word of God and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:19

All Jesus and other spiritual authorities are saying here is “Talk is Cheap.”

I know this, you know this, and so does everybody else.

“But even more blessed are those who hear the Word of God and put it into practice.”

Keep “Listening!”

Is your gut telling you something right now that you have been saying, but need to start doing.

Just Do It.


“What should I do God?”

What’s your dream? Don’t hold me to this, but I think the very last scene in the movie “Pretty Woman,” there is a homeless man crossing the street moderately shouting out as he passes by, “What’s your dream!?”

Have you really answered that question for yourself?

What’s your dream?

Makes me wonder, right now, what’s going on inside your brain as I cause you to think about your dream/goals/vision/plan? Are you the type A person right now just thinking to yourself… “Ya…Ya…I’ve got my dreams…come on Renner…get to the point.” Or are you someone who has been bashed by life’s circumstances just enough that you have become cynical and you don’t believe your dreams are possible for you anymore and you’ve given up on “childish” dreams?

I saw this picture the other day on a friend’s website. Its a street corner in Anthem AZ. "The Ultimate Crossroads."
I’m giving a testimonial for just 10 minutes at a Church Service in Anthem this weekend and when I’m up there I want to find this street corner and take a family picture in front of this sign. This sign on that street corner is truly a crossroads that everyone of us face, sometimes daily, in our lives.

How do you decide which way to go? I’ve just closed down an era of my life of being a Sr. Pastor for more than 14 years straight. I’ve been a preacher, preaching nearly every weekend for 20 years now. But now what? I’m staring the next 20 years of my life in the face and its blurry. I can’t get a good look into what its going to look like. And here’s the deal. I think God likes it that way. Does that make Him cruel? No. Maybe I’m too playful…I like to think its a form of the game called “Blindfold.” You’ve played it, right? Where one person puts on the blindfold and has to trust the directions of the teammate and hope not to be led into a wall or hit their Shin bone on a coffee table or fall off a cliff. If God is our guide and He chooses to “blindfold” us…aren’t we still in great hands that we can trust?

I have found that I am more of a control freak than I thought. And I’m actually deeply laid back. If I’m not liking my future being out of focus, then I’m pretty convinced you, maybe not as laid back as me, really don’t like it when your future is out of focus.

So…here’s what I know God says about all this. First look at this passage in Proverbs 16:9 “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (NLT) The NASB version says, “The mind of man prepares the way, but the Lord determines his steps.”

That verse makes me squirm a bit. It makes me think of another game. Tug-O-War…but…Tug-O-War against God. And He’s bigger than me. I love Tug-O-War, but only when I win!

So when we’re at the crossroads of Vision and Opportunity Way…what shall we do? Is this Tug-O-War time? Or…Blindfold time?

I think the answer is found in one Story of the Bible. Its in the Book of Exodus. The key part of the story is in Exodus 14:15. Its up to this point that the Israelites have been led out of Egypt and have found themselves at a dead end. The name of the place is Baal-Zephon, which is literally translated, “God’s Cul-de-sac.” Sounds like a crossroads. A crossroads for so many can be a dead end because the choice to go left or right is too overwhelming so they freeze up and quit. Dead End. Many will fall to their knees and spend hours on end praying about which way they should go and they get frustrated when God doesn’t seem to answer. So…they pray more and nothing ever moves forward. Just lots of prayer. Prayer is good, but prayer only is tragic. Faith is Action. Forward movement. So in the passage I refer to above…God says, “Why are your praying right now.” (Not exact translation, but same thing…agree?)

I think God is saying…”You know me…I’ve earned your trust…I’ve shown you how to live…get off your knees this time and let’s practice praying without words…pray with your actions…I got your back.”

Isn’t it fair for me to say that at this point in the story of Moses…that Moses had already been told how to live and what to do by God? The answer is yes. (God gave Moses clarity at the Burning Bush.)

At this point, Moses found himself in a scary moment and he froze in his tracks and he did only what he knew to do. Pray and cry out to God. And…God told him to “knock it off and get going..just do what I told you to do when I met with you at the burning bush.” (TRVB…Trent Renner Version Bible LOL)

So Moses got up…shook the dust off his robe and held his staff high and put one foot in the Red Sea and experienced an unprecedented miracle.

So…here’s my challenge to you. What do you continually pray about but there seems to be no answer? Maybe God is saying…just move. Maybe God is saying to you…”Pick Opportunity or pick Vision. They both end up in a good place.”

Is it possible that God is not concerned as much as you think about what House you live in, who you marry, what job you do, what car you drive, etc?

And with some things people pray about…give me a break.
Do you really have to pray about leaving your spouse?
Do you really have to pray about cheating on your taxes?
Do you really have to pray about beating that guy up?

God has told us how to live in the Scriptures. We have a perfect road map(Bible) that God laid out in detail about how to arrive at one of two final destinations. Heaven…Hell.

The crossroads and fork in the roads and Cul-De-Sacs, and Dead-Ends are all part of the incredible journey to our final destinations.

What we should be praying about is our behavior, our heart, our thoughts, our purity, our integrity and character, our influence, etc.

When we get those issues worked out and we have our lives spiritually going the way God would have them going…THEN…when we arrive at the corner of Vision and Opportunity…does it really matter to God which way we turn and move forward as a person who is blindfolded and being led by the greatest leader of all time past, present and future?

So which will it be for you this time?
Vision or Opportunity?
Those are great choices!

Pick and then step forward in Trust.
It really will be okay…even if it doesn’t turn out like you think it would.

Trent