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HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 25 (Mt. 6:5-8) “Prayer Motives”


5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. 7 “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. 8 Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!
Matthew 6:5-8 (NLT)

DRINK IT IN:
There is no doubt that Jesus brings about a stronger judgement and accountability upon Spiritual leaders. When Jesus was teaching this subject material, the religious leaders must have been present. He called them Hypocrites. The previous post, Hydrate 24, talks about the same motive. This motive of doing anything for recognition. What motivates you to pray? What motivates you to give? Do you pray differently when you are in a private setting than you do when you pray publicly? Why? Jesus may hold spiritual leaders to a higher accountability, but he holds everybody accountable.

As I write this in 2012, I have now been in ministry for the past 20 of my 41 years of life. From my perspective, I have noticed changes amongst pastors over these past two decades. Good changes. I remember when I was in my mid twenties and attending my first pastors conference and we had a breakout prayer session where we gathered into groups of about six to eight for some time of prayer. We were instructed to go around the table and everybody take turns praying. I remember being so uncomfortable as each pastor seemed to want to out-pray the previous pastor. As each pastor prayed, to be followed by another pastor taking his turn, the words became more eloquent and more complicated and more “spiritual” sounding. This prayer time seemed to start a competition of who could outwit, outsmart and outplay their prayer predecessor. It was Prayer Survivor, except there was no prize for the champion. It saddened me. It made me question whether or not I wanted to remain for the rest of the retreat. I did remain, and the rest of the retreat went pretty well. I share this story, because I have attended many more of these retreats in the following years and I have seen more authenticity and less competition when it comes to our corporate prayer time at these retreats. Times are changing. I can only speak for myself, but it seems to me that Christians and Christian Pastors are beginning to be more and more real and vulnerable publicly when it comes to communication and prayer and leadership, and I believe it is a very good thing for the cause of the Kingdom of Jesus of Nazareth. I am convinced that the greatest success for the church is yet to come, and will only come if the churches leaders can be vulnerable and transparent and their greatest motivator be to honor Jesus.

I think that this is what Jesus is saying when it comes to this teaching on prayer. It seems, from this teaching, that Jesus is opposed to praying out loud in public. But, It is obvious from other sections of Scripture that Jesus is okay with group prayers and people praying out loud in a public setting. How do I know this, because Jesus prayed publicly, and sometimes the prayer was said extra loud so that the people around Him could hear what He was praying. The Apostles prayed publicly in the book of Acts. Jesus is not so focused on where we pray, but why we pray.

I think Jesus, for clarification, would add something like this, “if you pray because you like the attention it gets you in public, then you’d be better to not pray than do it for wrong motives.” He might also say something like this, “if the temptation is too great for you to get attention in your prayer time publicly, then retreat to your private closet and pray to the Father secretly, then you will be blessed and God will be honored.” I hope you agree with me in thinking that Jesus would say these things.

Motive matters to Jesus. Motive is an outflow of the condition of our heart. If you are whole in Jesus Christ, if you define who you are based off what Jesus believes about you, and by what Jesus did for you, then you will have no reason to seek approval or grab attention when in public. Motives matter. Motives become very evident when we pray.

Before Jesus actually gives a perfect example of how to pray, He injects one more point into His teaching. In verse seven, He says, “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.”

I grew up in the Catholic religion. I am thankful for some of my Catholic roots. As I am now in the Restoration Movement of the faith of Christianity, I am a better Christian because of my old Catholic roots. When I was younger and in the Catholic religion, I had never read the Bible for myself, and I remember wondering, when I was taught to pray the Hail Mary prayer, why we repeated the same phrases over and over. (I don’t have time in this section to cover what I was thinking about being taught to pray to Mary.) Today, I just refer to the redundancy of prayer. This redundancy is a part of why I quit being committed to Catholicism. I knew God was all powerful and I knew that God knew my very thoughts before I even thought them. I was so confused as to why we had to repeat the same lines, while praying, over and over. As a young kid I remember wondering if my Catholic teachers thought God was hard of hearing and so the more we repeated the prayer, the more likely God would be able to decipher what I was praying. Before, I lose all my Catholic friends, I want to acknowledge that I have been personally guilty of using the same phrases habitually in my private and public prayers. I have seen this repetition and false conversation with God happen in all different faiths, denominations and churches. This is a people problem, not a specific religion’s problem.

Instead of being taught the Hail Mary prayer when I was Catholic, I wish I had been taught this teaching of Jesus. The religious recitation of prayer goes against what the Lord of Lords commands. I think the repetition of prayers insults God. Let me put this in a practical setting. Imagine if I called up my earthly dad on the phone and in my talking with him, I would say to him, “Hello dad, I hope you are doing well. Hello dad, I hope you are doing well. Hello dad, I hope you are doing well. I was hoping you were were coming for a visit this next week. I was hoping you were coming for a visit this next week. I was hoping you were coming for a visit this next week. You are a great dad. You are a great dad. You are a great dad.” Good bye.

But I don’t stop there.

Next week, I get him on the phone again and I say to him, “Hello dad, I hope you are doing well. Hello dad, I hope you are doing well. Hello dad, I hope you are doing well. I was hoping you were were coming for a visit this next week. I was hoping you were coming for a visit this next week. I was hoping you were coming for a visit this next week. You are a great dad. You are a great dad. You are a great dad.” Good bye.

But, hold on, to make sure my dad got my point, I call him the very next day and I say to him.”Hello dad, I hope you are doing well. Hello dad, I hope you are doing well. Hello dad, I hope you are doing well. I was hoping you were were coming for a visit this next week. I was hoping you were coming for a visit this next week. I was hoping you were coming for a visit this next week. You are a great dad. You are a great dad. You are a great dad.” Good bye.

Now imagine I repeat this over and over for the rest of my life. I would not be surprised, for one minute, if my dad never came to visit me. I would think he would be completely irritated with me. If this is how I pray to God, then I’m just not a very good conversationalist. Do I make my point? Please don’t be insulted in what I am writing here, see the error, if you are doing such a thing, and turn your prayers into personal conversations with our relational Father in Heaven.

Now, what about this last sentence that Jesus teaches. In verse 8 Jesus says, ” Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!”

I have often wondered why God, if He knows exactly what I need before I even ask Him, or as another Bible passage says, knows my thoughts before I think them, then why do I even have to pray at all? And then I had kids. The more my four children age, and I grow in my experience and relationship with them as their father, the more I recognize my Father/Child relationship with my Heavenly Father. I know my four kids very well. Many times my wife and I laugh as we know what our kids are going to say before they even say it. For instance, when we are in the grocery store with our kids, and we arrive at the checkout station to see the lineup of tempting candy and magazines, at the conveyor belt area, we know exactly what our kids are going to ask of us. When I pick up my children from School and then venture home, I know exactly what they are going say as we drive by the local Sonic Restaurant. When one of my kids is on their cell phone with a friend and its a Friday night, I know exactly what that child is going to ask when He gets off the phone. You get the point?

I still want my kids to ask me. I know what my kids need. I know what is good and bad for my kids. I want to bless my children and give them the desires of their heart, and I want them to talk to me about it all. I am a relational dad. I know what my kids dreams are, but I want them to talk to me about these dreams. When I watch my kids compete in their sports games, I watched as they scored and I watched as they made mistakes in the game. I know they are excited about their win or upset about the loss, but I want them to talk to me about it all. I want to hear it from their view point. I want them to sit with me and tell me about it all. I cherish that when it happens. Have you ever been in your car privately with one of your children when they naturally open up and talk to you, and ask you questions, and actually listen to your answers? Its magical. Its healing. Its thrilling. Its relational. As a father I want that from my children. God made us to be like Him. He desires these things as well.

Even when I know what my kids are going to talk to me about. I still want them to talk to me.
I love conversation with the people I love.
Conversation and prayer are the same thing.

Now, go into a private place and converse with your Heavenly Father.
He is anxious to hear what you have to say, even though He already knows what you are going to say.
Tell Him what’s on your heart and mind. Tell Him your hopes and dreams. Tell Him what you are afraid of. Ask Him for things that you desire.
He will enjoy your time and your words immensely.

SWEAT IT OUT:
The next time you pray, do so with an ear to hear what you are actually praying. Do you repeat the same phrases every time you pray? If you do, catch yourself and make a change in your words. Please don’t let your prayer time be just habit and discipline. Can you imagine your child coming up to you on a daily basis and saying, “Hey, my calendar just told me Its time for me to talk with you…I have to talk with you now.” That would be the same as a husband bringing to his wife a dozen red roses on their anniversary day and handing the roses to his wife while saying, “today is our anniversary, I am obligated to get you these roses.” Roses have thorns, they would hurt as they would be thrown in your face for making such a comment, and performing such a dutiful deed. Get it?

If you struggle with being relational in your prayer time with God, then I want to challenge you to try some things outside of your comfort zone. Next time you pray, go to a private place where you will not be interrupted and bring with you an extra chair. Set this chair up and invite God to sit in it, and as you pray imagine Him physically sitting in the chair listening to you. If you have a hard time staying focused in your prayer time, remove your shoes as you pray, and it will help you stay focused as you recognize that your time with God in that moment makes the place a holy place, as you spend time with the creator of the sun, moon and stars.

If you are stuck in a repetitive cycle of praying the same way, the same time, the same words, each day, then practice praying while you are driving by yourself. As you drive, just talk to God as if He were sitting in the seat next to you. People who pull up next to you at the stop light will think you are weird, but who cares! Go for it anyway. If it happens to be somebody you know, and they ask you about it later, don’t lie by telling them you were conversing with someone via speaker phone, tell them straight up, you were praying! This driving practice will help you break ritual habits and make your conversation with God more real-time and relational.

If you have a hard time knowing if you are just repeating phrases or praying in a weird way of any kind, then use the recording device on your cell phone, and when you are praying just record it all, and listen to it later. As you listen to the playback, you will hear things and notice things that will help you be more relational in your prayer time with your heavenly Father.

We all practice things we want to be good at. Practice your praying. You know you want to be good at praying. Practice it.

God wants you to spend time with Him. He is waiting. God never moves far from you. There isn’t anything that will ever make God stop loving you. Knowing that, spend time telling Him how much your appreciate Him. Talk to Him.
Be self aware of your motives.
Pray.


HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 18 (Mt.5:33-37) “Oaths”

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
Matthew 5:33-37:

DRINK IT IN:

Have you ever participated in a “swearing in?” That’s what Jesus is talking about here. He is clearly commanding us not to swear to anything other than God Himself. To swear on something is what we do when we want to strengthen our swear/oath by giving credit to the Bible, to death, or to “your mother’s grave, etc.

So what about “being sworn into office?” What about raising your right hand in court proceedings and “swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God?” This is what Jesus is talking about. Jesus is saying, don’t do this anymore. So back in 1772, some people requested a change in the court system.

Did you know that there is an “Alternative Oath” that you can request, so as not to break this command of Jesus, in the American court system? It was created in 1772 in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s oath is derived from colonial Laws of the Commonwealth, enacted in 1772, and reads:

“You [and each of you] do swear by Almighty God, the Searcher of all hearts, that the evidence you shall give this court [and Jury] in this issue now being tried shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth and as you shall answer to God on the last great day.”

Did you notice that the swearing was to no one, but God? This is a technical issue. Some might argue that this is a ridiculous technicality and a waste of time. I might push back and say that details matter to God. What if Noah ignored a few details from God about building the ark? Where this command is tricky is in the wording. The command says not to swear and then gives details about not swearing on heaven, earth, Jerusalm, etc. It seems to give us the okay to swear on the name of Almighty God. The dilemma we face is trying to determine which law we want to obey. The Bible tells us to obey the law of the land. If this is the case, then we are called to have a swearing in when we testify in court, or need to be sworn in as a public servant. But, we also must guard swearing on anything but Almighty God. I think the alternative oath is the answer. Next time I am in court or being sworn into office I will request this alternative oath and thus honor this command of Jesus. (Hopefully it will never happen. I have no desire to be involved in something that causes me to testify in court and even though I’ve always had a childhood dream of being President of the US, its highly unlikely!)

This command of Jesus is really simple and not needing deep explanation. The previous devotions I have been doing are longer…but of course…good! (Just ask me.) So…this devotion is shorter.

Jesus is simply saying to all of us, ‘if you commit to do something, don’t over promise, don’t swear on your mother’s grave, just do it!” If you say you are going to do it, then do it. If you say you are not going to do it, then don’t do it.”
This is integrity. This is one area where Christians should be known for doing.

We’ve seen it in the movies. When someone says they are going to do something and then they back it up with all kinds of promises, over promises and then they throw in a few extra guarantees that it is going happen. Its as if the person is trying to persuade themselves. When this kind of thing happens, its like a person saying they are going to come through for you, but as they say it, they don’t recognize that they are shaking their head in disagreement at the same time.

Have you ever met someone that is known as, “a man of his word?” “A woman of her word?” You’ve heard people say, “Back in the day, a handshake is all that was needed.” Or, “If ‘so & so’ says, “yes,” then consider it done!” These are comments of trust and integrity and if you know someone like this, you value them greatly.

Those phrases are earned. That reputation is earned through hard work and integrity. You can’t wake up one day and own this kind of reputation. You and I have to wake up today and begin to do what we say we are going to do. And then tomorrow, repeat. Then the next day, repeat! Over and over again.

SWEAT IT OUT:

Are there things in your life that you have been making promises about, but you are failing in following through on your word?

If you are doing this…do you agree with me that it is creating a horrible reputation of you?

Is there anyone in your life that you need to apologize to for not coming through on your word? If so, contact them and simply apologize and end the conversation. Then, after you apologize, just go about coming through on your word without saying anything else. Let your actions prove your apology.

If you are a person who has been doing a lot of promising and making false oaths…it means that your word means very little to people, and because of this, you will not be a very trusting or trustworthy person. If this is the case for you, then admit it, confess it to God, and start re-earning your new reputation.

If you are a person who comes through on your word…then keep it up! Its a great thing to continue. You will hold high value in other people’s lives.

Today…pay attention to yourself and the people around you and be observant about what they say they are going to do and whether or not their actions back up their words.

I know that you agree with me in the fact, that Christianity needs more people of integrity who do what they say and say what they do!

Its starts with you. Don’t let this devotion make you focus on others and their short comings. Only focus on you.

Make a life long commitment to simply let your yes, be yes, and your no, be no! How refreshing.

Watch how it will impact the people around you.
If you do this…you will be a lot like Jesus and you will win in life, and it will be because you started winning from the inside! This focus is about internal strength and integrity. This is something that is best done when you are focusing on being just like Jesus and keeping in His presence moment by moment throughout your day. Your word matters. Keep it simple. Yes. No.

Keep Hydrating! I hope these are good challenges for you. They are for me.
Do you swear you are going to stay committed?
Swear on your Mother’s Grave that you will!
That was a test.


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?