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(Part 1of 3) “World Vision Controversy”

INTRO:

It has hit the Christendom fan.  World Vision, a self declared Christian Ministry, publicly came out with a position saying that as a Christian Organization they have decided to leave the “theology” up to the Church and they are going to hire people who are openly living outside the guidelines of the Bible. They have specifically created a policy saying that it is okay for their Christian Organization to hire people in a Same Sex marriage to be on their leadership team of their Christian organization.  Let’s dialogue about all this…

I first want to say… I hope that these posts will be studied and accepted by all people living in any situation or circumstance as posts of love, directness, and  based from a Bible perspective.  I personally have friends from most walks of life and life-styles and I believe they know me to be a person who is not judgmental, but as very direct and truthful.

We have to have this discussion without someone throwing the stupid “judgmental christian” card…these issues are of utmost importance that have eternal consequences.  Let’s be direct with each other, but loving and seeking truth.  We have to have these discussions.  We have to seek the Truth.

I want to address the issues that World Vision’s decision has uncovered and stirred up.  There are many.  This blog will be split up into many separate blogs.  I know this material will be long…but I am confident that it will be content that is worth your time.  I also want to say that I am doing everything I can to type this in an attitude of love, directness, and minus my personal opinion as much as possible.  I want the Bible to be my foundation for this whole series of blog posts.

LET’S GET STARTED…

The arguments that have been stirred by World Vision should not be just about homosexuality and/or same sex marriage.  Some want to make World Vision’s decision to be about that…but I want to be clear…

This post is about sin of any kind and it’s mixing with Spiritual Leadership of any kind.

FIRST…World Vision said that they want to leave Theology up to the local Church.  Here in lies the problem with World Vision…they have been led to believe that the local Church is a Top Down power structure that has a piece of property and a building, usually with a steeple, that people gather in, typically on Sundays, and that is called…The Church.

This idea is a worldly-developed idea from the Corporate world that has crept into the Church.  This mentality has caused even Pastors and others to believe and teach that there are Para Church Organizations and Missions Organizations and then there is the Church….They teach, “The Church” is the one that you drive to on Sundays to sing, take an offering, listen to a message, go home and do it again next Sunday.

Q: Where in the Bible do we have this kind of teaching and segregation?  A:  It’s not in the Bible.

There are no “Para Church” Organizations in the Bible.  Shame on us for separating/creating them.  There are no 501 c 3 organizations in the Bible. There are no missions organizations in the Bible.  Not for Profits…etc.

The Bible says, that those who are followers of Jesus Christ as Lord, are the Body of our God.  Period. The Body of Jesus IS THE CHURCH and again…He is the head! (READ 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 for details on this)

Jesus is the head and everyone of us make up the other “body” parts of the Church.  We all have different gifts and changing gifts and strengths.  It is shameful that we as the Church have divided our Church body into Church / Para Church / Missions Orgs / Not for Profits / etc.   It has gotten so out of hand that different parts of Jesus’ Body get different accountability standards.  ie…this wrong system has created double standards where Church boards hold mission organizations to standards that they don’t even follow themselves.  They created organizations that measure how these”mission orgs” spend their money.  Charity Navigator is one example that has been created. This system sticks it to the “missions orgs” and what is commonly called “The Church” get’s a free pass.    The Corporate Church board says that “missions orgs” really shouldn’t be spending more than 5% of their budget on Administrative/management costs while they themselves spend upwards to 50% to 60% or more on their administrative costs in what they call their local churches. (I have been a Sr. Pastor in what is commonly called the Church, and I am now as they call it, a missions leader…I know first hand what the standards are from both perspectives.)   WE as the Church today, have taken on a Corporate structure and called it church, and we believe that the para-church organization…doesn’t even have to live according to Jesus’s standards, because it’s Para Church…or Missions…or Not for profit.   Thus…Richard Stearns says, “We are going to leave the theology up to the Church.”  Is he thinking he has a free pass on honoring the Bible, because somewhere along the way, he believes he and World Vision are not the Church?

We are ALL…THE Church!  The Biblical Standards are the same all across the board.  The Church is anybody CONNECTED to the Head…Jesus The Christ…The King.  The Church is anybody declaring Jesus as Lord of their life and live as the King has commanded.

Richard Stearns’s declaration that World Vision is leaving the theology stuff up to the Church…is crazy wrong.   Since when did “The Church” get to say or designate what the standards of Jesus are?   SINCE NEVER!  Jesus sets the standards and had them recorded in the Bible.  The Bible says what the standards of Jesus are and the Church is either in sin or not in sin as they obey/disobey the standards of Jesus recorded in God’s Word…The Holy Bible!  The Church, the public, popular vote, governments, individuals can’t change Jesus’s standards…ever.

So…THERE IS ONLY BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY…aka..The Church!

There should not be any segregation of the Church into para church, missions orgs, Not for Profit orgs, Religious Orgs, Denominations, etc…NO…WE ARE ALL THE CHURCH, ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE. Please do not let the world’s corporate structure, that has been forced on Christianity, deceive you into thinking they are all different.  It’s all the Church.  It is all Christianity.

The Point?

WE ARE ALL THE CHURCH!  When we all…individually…stand before Jesus someday for Judgment…Mr. Richard Stearns of World Vision…you will not be able to say to Jesus…“Um, Jesus…I left the theology up to the Church…Um, Jesus…some in the “Church” said that it is okay to ignore that commandment of Yours.  Um, Jesus, that Church group over there didn’t follow that command of yours, so I assumed it was okay for me too…”  

Do you get my point?  One on One with Jesus is where you and I will be someday.  You and I cannot blame anyone for our decisions.  It will be You and Jesus at that point…and like it or not…if you say you are a follower of Jesus…YOU ARE THE CHURCH!  The above paragraph is not just written to Richard Stearns…it is the same truth for me and you.  You will be held accountable for the Truths and the Standards that are written in God’s Word…The Bible.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else does or tells you to do…only you will be accountable for the truth and standards that Jesus gave us in The Holy Bible.

Before this first part of this blog post finishes…I do want to add this. There are LEVELS OF JUDGEMENT coming when Jesus returns.

There will be those who are not teachers and leaders of Christianity who get one level of Judgment from Jesus.  And then…

There will be those who are judged with even more strictness….these are the Teachers and Leaders of Christianity.

James 3:1 in The Holy Bible says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

It’s a very dangerous thing to lead, teach, or be on staff in Christianity…whether that Church be called World Vision, The Salvation Army, The YMCA, ReturnHope International, or your local congregation on the street corner with a steeple.  We will all be held accountable for our spiritual leadership in Christianity…THE CHURCH….Individually.

World Vision is pretty much saying anybody can lead and teach in Christianity and leadership within a Christian organization…no matter their life choices…but have they considered the warnings of James 3:1?

Thus…part 2 post…coming soon…

 

 

 


The Bible says MY own work is “Skubala!”

When I think of the world and places like…Uganda…Namibia…Romania…Haiti…Guatemala…India…Appalachia…Peru…the Philippines…Russia…Cuba and other places that we must travel to so we may be the hands and feet of Jesus, I shudder at their physical condition, and it seems extraordinary that one person could walk into it all and decide to tackle this thing and actually believe he/she could make a dent.

The reality is…and I’m intensely convinced of this…that the work must be He not I or it all fails. Do you know that if your life’s work is your’s it will die with you. But if it is His work it will live beyond you and continue much good. Name your profession…the above statement is true of it too.

I suppose I should clarify who He/His is above. It is clearly the Holy Spirit through which Jesus Christ sent us as He returned back to His gated community for now and is referenced in Acts 1:7-9, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” This Holy Spirit that Jesus sent…when you and I are dwelling fully in it…will experience the fruit of this Holy Spirit. This fruit is referenced in Galatians 5:22, “The fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness and Self-Control.” It’s fair for me to write that anytime I am not living in the fruit above, I have stepped away from the presence of the Holy Spirit and begun to live in the flesh again. When I am not immersed in the nine fruit of the Spirit mentioned above, I am grabbing life from the hands of God and saying that I am greater than He is…we would never say such a thing, but actions speak louder than words.

The Apostle Paul new this best. The farmboy inside of me can’t help but teach this next paragraph in it’s truest form! Paul says in Philippians 3:8 that any gain based upon his own work failed to endorse Christ alone as the source of good. As Paul wrote this, he wrote it in a way that the translators of the Scriptures have determined too controversial to write in their new translations for fear of upsetting the BMPDs of life. Click the following link to find out what I mean by a BMPD…it’s a blog post titled, “What to do when you are getting rocked by life.”)

These politically correct translators have used the word “Rubbish/refuse” in Phillippians 3:8. But in the King James translation, it is called what it is, DUNG…but even King Jimmy’s translation was not the word The Apostle Paul literally wrote and used. He literally used the word “Skubala.” This word skubala is not used anywhere else in the entire Bible. The exact translation is not rubbish or dung or refuse…it is literally translated, “shit.” So, the following is the exact translation of what Paul literally wrote in his letter to the Church in Philippi back in the 50’s…and I don’t mean the 1950’s. Here’s the exact translation of the word Skubala…

“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them shit, that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8

I wish the translators had the guts of the Apostle Paul to say it like He said it. I think that passage would catch our attention much better and aid us in knowing what our own work…when we do it on our own power…really is. Can you imagine being in the Philippian Church when the Pastor stood to read this new and exciting letter from Paul. They must have been anticipating this letter’s arrival and when it arrived, word would have gotten out about it, and a big crowd would have gathered for Church to hear it read! I would have loved to at least been a fly on the wall when the Pastor arrived at this sentence! I wonder if there were gasps?!

Are you building your own work…Church/school/law firm/pharmacy/accounting practice/football team/garbage truck driver/plumber/mission work/etc…with your own Skubala…or is it all coming through Jesus Christ…Lord of Lord’s….King of King’s…whom someday will return to judge the living and the dead. When He returns on that day…He will not arrive in Love and gentleness…He came in love the first time some 2000 years ago. He is coming back…and after paying the huge price to earn the title, “All-Authority-One”…with His arrival the Skubala is going to hit the fan. Make sure your “work” is done through the name of Jesus Christ! Period.

Build through Jesus and Him alone. Whatever you think is yours…it’s not…it belongs to the King.

So….I must become less…He must become greater. You too.

In every detail of your life…please be sure to put this sign in the right place…..

….and NEVER forget what the Apostle Paul wrote just after calling His own works, “Skubala,”

“I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength!” Philippians 4:13

Bring on the world and all it’s Skubala…Jesus is in us and now we must be off to Ends of the Earth! There is a lot of work to be done!

Let’s Go!

Love ya,
Trent Renner


20/20 Hind-sight about Jesus…

Isaiah 28:16 says,
“Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem,
a firm and tested stone.
It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on.
Whoever believes need never be shaken.” (NLT)

The USA was created nearly 250 years ago.
The Book of Isaiah was written around 700 years before the birth of Jesus…totaling 2700 years ago.

Can you imagine if you were someone reading the book of Isaiah..let’s say…600 years before Jesus was born? You wouldn’t have known how much time would pass before the coming Messiah would actually arrive. Every day you would wonder if today was the day for the Messiah to be born. Some, maybe didn’t even know what this “Cornerstone” would actually be. I imagine there was great awe and wonder, maybe even fear being talked about, as the people prior to Jesus’s birth, studied and contemplated who or what this cornerstone was all about.

I’ll bet it was very frustrating for the people of that day. Wouldn’t you strive, with all your effort, to determine who or what this cornerstone was, so that if you believed in it, you would never be shaken, as the verse in Isaiah says? It would be all consuming. I would want that cornerstone more than anything. Not knowing what it was would have sent me on a wild game of hide and seek as I tried to discover what this “Cornerstone” was, so I could believe in it, so I would never be shaken!

Today…we are very fortunate…

We don’t have to be frustrated like the people who lived BC. We can look back with 20/20 hindsight and know WHO the cornerstone is. The Apostle Paul, who in the early part of his life hated Jesus and His followers, wrote the following Bible verse, “Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.”

I wonder if Paul shook his head in awe and wonder as he wrote that sentence? One day He hated Jesus…the next He was admitting Jesus is the Cornerstone and Lord of all!

Paul met Jesus personally. Paul used to imprison and oversee the killing of people who dared say that Jesus was the cornerstone referred to in Isaiah. Now, Paul is the writer of more than 1/2 of the New Testament that professes that Jesus IS the cornerstone. It’s crazy what happens when someone meets Jesus personally!

You and I do not have to be frustrated wondering where hope is found. We do not have to be nervous wondering what we must do to have salvation. We do not have to argue about who is the Cornerstone that everything else is built on or stumbles on. We do not have to fight to prove that Jesus is the cornerstone. He IS the Cornerstone. He rose from the dead to prove how immovable that cornerstone…He…really is.

If you are reading this, you and I have such an advantage over the faithful followers of God that lived BC. We can look with 20/20 hindsight to know who Jesus is and what He has done. We have the new set of Scriptures called the New Testament to witness to who that Cornerstone is. We have the 39 books of the Old Testament to compare to the 27 books of the New Testament to do a full study of who the Messiah is and what we must do to make Him our Lord and Savior and King. You and I can have complete confidence in the fact that Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life! He said so Himself.

That’s a good thing! That’s a good book! That’s Good News! That’s the Holy Scriptures, pointing us to a holy God and asking us to live Holy Lives. The Apostles and many others are so convinced that Jesus is the Cornerstone, that they were willing to have horrible things happen to them instead of denouncing Jesus. If you want to read about some of these people, read Hebrews chapter 11.

Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the Cornerstone. A sentence was written by the great Prophet Isaiah 2700 years ago, telling us that we can live unshaken lives if we build on the foundational cornerstone of Jesus Christ Himself! He is a firm and tested stone. He is immovable, steadfast, and undefeated! He is the THE Champion of the Faith. He is the Great Physician. He is the Comforter. He is the full payment for your sins. He is the Rock! He cannot be shaken! Anything that comes against Him will not succeed!

Knowing this….check out the following passage…written by King David approximately 2900 years before Jesus came. Talk about faith. Read the hope and strength that King David had in God nearly 3000 years before the birth of the Cornerstone. If David can have this kind of faith and strength prior to the birth of Jesus…not knowing with 20/20 hindsight where His confidence should be…not knowing who the Messiah would be, then how much more faith and strength can we have knowing…with 20/20 hindsight… that Jesus IS the cornerstone?

1 I wait quietly before God,
for my victory comes from him.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will never be shaken. Psalms 62:1-2 (NLT)

Jesus is the Rock…
You are Solid as long as you stand on The Rock.
Rock on!

Trent


What to do when you are getting rocked by life…

Sometimes I come across material that is so full of wisdom it just needs to be purposefully plagiarized and adapted to fit the shift that I want it to have. It’s been said that Shift Happens! Shift is good. So…I’m shifting Chuck’s article. I just want to give full credit to Chuck Swindoll for all the positive material in this post.

Any sarcastic material is my own doing. By the way, Chuck Swindoll is my favorite of all communicators…WARNING…Sarcasm follows…{If you do not like Sarcasm…please just jump down to the long line that begins the non-sarcastic content of this article} (Disclaimer…for the Church police who are opportunistically looking for people who they think need some behavioral modification… I know you think I should have said Jesus is my favorite communicator, instead of Chuck Swindoll…so, I want to say… Jesus is my supreme communicator, but not my favorite communicator…most of the stuff Jesus says cuts to my heart and convicts me in a hard way and I don’t always like it, so Jesus is not my favorite communicator, but He is my supreme communicator). Hopefully that disclaimer will prevent any members of the BMPD from WRITING ME a christian “ticket”. LOL (Sorry for the sarcasm folks…just gun shy from all the “BMPD” I have encountered in the past year) BMPD…you wonder?

Behavioral
Modification
Police
Department.

How do you know somebody is on the BMPD? You usually can identify the BMPD from the literal badges they wear on Sundays, when they wear their best for God. (If somebody believes you should wear your best for God…shouldn’t they wear their best 24/7 and not just on Sunday?) Some examples of the badges are posted to the right…I removed any church names to protect the reputations.
There are many forms of the BMPD badge…what the badge literally says is not what’s important, the motive behind the reason for even wearing a badge, is what is alarming…but the most dangerous BMPDs are the ones who are the Private Detectives who don’t wear a physical badge. These types have their badge hidden in their heart.

The Private Detectives of the BMPD, have nick names…sometimes fittingly called “Private-eyes” and some have been nicknamed “tricky-dicks”. These BMPDs are people who look just like a regular Christian, but are just undercover private eyes in the religious world. I think it “stinks” for the BMPD members that BM stands for something else other than behavioral modification. I’m not trying to be gross, I’m being literal about the ‘movement’ part. BMPDs cause great “exits” in their local churches and sadly it’s usually new people exiting and getting flushed “down” eternally…because they got treated like poop by someone with a badge at church. (I wanted to type the real word instead of poop, but I really don’t want a ticket from a BMPD).

Some churches are loaded with a higher number of BMPDs. The picture I have inserted to the right and below is a quadrant image I drew of 4 types of churches in the world. Every Church has some love and some challenge. However…the amount of love or challenge directly affects what kind of church it is. As you can see a BMPD loaded Church is a church that is High Challenge and Low Love. This type of church is equipped with quite a few pharisaical, aka BMPD people who really believe you should follow all the “rules” and if you don’t you will be corrected on the spot and sent home…even as a first time guest at church. A Church like Jesus is a church that is High Challenge and High Love. You can explore and study the quadrant to determine what kind of church you are in. Please don’t be a BMPD. Its a powerful thing, but it won’t land you in Heaven. Well…that’s what Jesus said.

This post is not about the BMPDs…its crazy how I let these types take up precious time of mine…and your reading time. Charles Swindoll didn’t reference these people even once in his blog that I’m adapting…He’s 80 something and much wiser and self-controlled than I am. I hope to be more like him someday. I’m working on it. Before I get on with the incredible message of this article, I must say one more thing about the BMPD. Jesus called them names. Oh, yes. He called them Sons of Vipers, White Washed Tombs, Hypocrites, Blind guides and Fools. He warned the Apostles about them often. One BIG example is Matthew 23:1-36. Jesus was brutal towards the BMPD. Well…enough of that stinky subject. If you persevered through that…the rest is really refreshing!
________________________________________________________________________________________

The big question is this…What do you do when you find yourself surrounded by the BMPD in your work/ministry/friendships/Church, etc?

The rest of this post you are about to read is a MODIFIED version of what Chuck Swindoll wrote. I accept full responsibility for all material above and below. To read his exact blog, just copy and paste the following link into your browser and you will see the differences in how I adapted his information. His post does not include anything about the BMPD. My jabs at them just came out of my gift of immaturity. If you are offended by my comments about you…I mean… about the BMPDs, please obey Jesus about what He says in Matthew 18:15 and I will respond accordingly.

Swindoll’s unchanged article link…
http://www.insight.org/resources/devotionals/the-truth-perspective.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DailyDevo+%28Chuck+Swindoll%27s+Daily+Devotional%29&utm_content=FaceBook

The passage that inspired Charles to write what he did in his post is Psalm 119:98–100 (NIV) I typed it below.

“98Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. 99I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. 100 I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.”

So imagine you have recently got a job that has proven to be less than you expected. You prayed for the job, then lo and behold, it opened up. God “spoke!” 🙂 You were grateful. After a few weeks, however, you found that the working conditions…usually caused by people who actually hired you…leave much to be desired. In fact they might even be nightmarish. Furthermore these people might be self titled and self proclaimed christians. Your first and natural response would be disappointment, perhaps even disillusionment and at its worst, Shock and Awe. This would lead to daily irritations and possible arguments. Your life could soon become consumed with negativity, pessimism, and verbal assault. Exit motivation. Enter low enthusiasm and possibly into a dead end. You want to quit, but the world tells us that quitters are losers. (I’m not sure that last statement is a fact…people who finally QUIT picking their nose are not losers…people who QUIT wetting the bed are not losers and…I love the movie line in American Gangster where Denzel Washington is told by a wise old man that “Quitting while you are on top is not the same as quitting!) By on top…I mean…in this instance…before you become the walking mat where BMPDs wipe their feet on you frequently. In my instance, I had a few special circumstances that allowed me to walk from the dead end…but not all have that luxury and can’t quit. So…if you do not quit, because circumstances just won’t allow it…your dead end…puts you into a serious predicament.

I have personally experienced this very situation in the past year. This explains why Chuck Swindoll’s original article resonated with me so much. As I write about my recent experience of a dead end, I don’t write about it with any bitterness and I have forgiven the people and circumstances. I write only from my personal experience in hopes you can glean some earned wisdom from my bad experience that might help you.

So..if you are in a dead end and you “can’t” quit…then instead of getting sarcastic like I tend to do or just quitting like I was, thankfully able to do…

How about trying this…

How much better to apply some basic, biblical principles! Let’s say, instead of wallowing in sorrow or swimming in the cesspool of bad attitudes, you dug deeply into God’s Word, absorbing wisdom, cultivating insight, gaining understanding. You discover from Romans 8:28 that God uses all things for your good, even unpleasant experiences. You also discover from Romans 5:3–5 that God uses difficult times to help us grow mature in faith.

And not only this, but we also choose to thank God in our trials and dead ends, knowing that trials bring about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. We choose to celebrate that “we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. We confirm through our devotion to God 1 Corinthians 10:13 that says God won’t let us go through more than we can actually handle…with the help of Him and others, of course.

This truth gives you a different perspective. You are the Lord’s personal “project.” Its not a fun project, but a very beneficial one. His plan is to develop you into a mature, stable person. He really does have your very best in mind! Nothing is coincidental in the Christian life; all things (even your miserable job because of miserable people!) are tools in God’s hands, and He is lovingly shaping your character. You learn to accept that your job, with all its limitations and irritations and BMPDs, is a perfect place for God to mature you and make you more like His Son. Rather than resist or look for the first escape, you resolve to greet each day as another opportunity to grow in grace toward others and submission to Him. Wisdom helps you look at your situation from His viewpoint.

Then, those who work around you don’t bother you as much because God’s Word has taught you how to see through their surface problems. Or, they may bother you just as much, but it’s like water off a duck’s back! You now see that their verbal assaults are indicative of a deeper problem of inner unrest in themselves. You see how they continue to hurt, but compassion grows in you because you recognize that they have been hurt…thus “hurt people, hurt people. You also learn that you need not take their abuse personally, for it really isn’t directed at you personally. It’s their release, their panic, their insecurity. Soon, your insight has cushioned you from an ugly, irritating, retaliatory spirit. Instead of arguing with them, you find ways to help your coworkers. You actually pray for them and be like Jesus to them. (Be careful in these relationships…for these very people whom Jesus loved and prayed for and served…killed Him) (To the BMPD…I know Jesus laid His own life down…that’s not my point)

In this new focus, you have now begun to respond to your once-irritating occupation with a positive attitude. Time spent in the Letter of James, for example, has taught you to be very careful about what you say and how you behave before those who don’t know Christ personally. (Q: But, Chuck Swindoll, what if they are Christians and treating you poorly? A:I think Chuck would say, “read 1 Corinthians 5”) Furthermore, in your doing a diligent job regardless of the circumstances, you have gleaned understanding. And to your own great surprise, you have actually begun to enjoy and accept the challenge of your situation because you know it is exactly where the Lord wants you. It is an ideal place for making Christ known through your words and deeds.

Don’t misunderstand. I can’t guarantee that through regular interaction with Scripture you can transform your environment. Some circumstances are beyond help. Believe me, as a pastor, I never rule out the possibility of miraculous, divine intervention, but I have become wise enough to recognize my own limitations of not actually being Jesus…Only Jesus can truly change people. So, I don’t want to create the impression that you can change the world by gaining spiritual understanding. I guarantee, however, that YOU will be transformed. And through your spiritual growth, the Lord may improve your environment a great deal. Regardless, you will be changed. Your attitude will change. Enthusiasm will fill the void created by helplessness and hopelessness.

God’s Word is for you, my friend…I repeat… it’s for you! There is no situation that you cannot face if you are really serious about spending time on a regular basis in the Book of books! And a great place to start is Psalm 119, especially if the grind of low enthusiasm, BMPDs, and dead ends have begun to take their toll.

Tomorrow is a new day and I hope the beginning of new you. You and I choose to behave the way we do. I believe we become what we are becoming right now. I’m encouraged that we are reading this together! I pray that we begin to become what this is all about.
What a challenge!


If I were an Old Man…

I was up early this morning to spend time with the Lord, abiding in Him and allowing Him to teach, lead, comfort and direct me. God is so good. He always does what is best for us…and that, sometimes, doesn’t feel good. I mentioned in a previous post about how crazy-fast this past year has gone. In fact, time seems to fly like never before. On this day there are only 188 days until Christmas. I’m not trying to be morbid, but If I do the “math of average” and I live to be the average age of a person who dies in the U.S. 87.7 years…then that means I have 45 Christmas’s left before I join the Lord. At first that seems like a lot, but when I begin to think about my kids and grandkids and how many of those future Christmas’s I might or might not spend with them…45 doesn’t seem like very many. I would think that I would be sad about this…I’m not sad, but it does cause me to mourn. God never intended for life to be like it is today. Life can be so very harsh. There is a lot of anger in people. There is a lot of craziness going on in the world. There seems to be a great panic in our culture for something we can’t fully describe or attain. A fight for being on the right team. A fight for the “top.” A fight for self gratification. I don’t want to be all bad news. My goodness, there is a lot of good going on right now too. So many people serving others, opening doors, standing for good, sacrificing so others may be blessed. We live in a world of polar opposites. Good versus evil. It’s all simply called life.

I read a verse this morning in my time with God. The verse is found in the Bible at 1 Kings 20:11. I have read the Bible many times and yet I do not ever remember reading this verse in those past journey’s through the Bible. The verse reads, “A warrior putting on his sword for battle should not boast like a warrior who has already won.”

This verse caused me to contemplate many things. The ancient wisdom in that verse is deep and wide. Reading the verse made me feel very young. Then, the creative side of my brain made me think of myself as an old man sitting with a young lad, telling him about how to live his life. I imagined myself sitting and talking about my life’s experience. I imagined myself hoping this young man would listen to what I was saying and hopefully take some of my personal experience and learn from it. The good and the bad. Here are some things I think I would tell him.

Young man…(obviously, ladies, you will have to read this as if it were speaking to you in the feminine.) What I’m about to tell you is what I’ve learned over my life…It’s not everything I’ve learned in life, but what I’m about to share is deeply important. I hope you will listen to it and learn from it. I hope we can meet regularly and that you will allow me to speak with you often about other things I’ve learned that I’m not going to remember today. What I tell you is my experience…it may not be the same for you. The road I paved is not the same road you will travel. But, learn from this old man and then pave your own road.

I heard a really good man say, “Heaven is real, the Bible is true and God loves you more than you’ll ever know.” I love that phrase and it is as true as truth gets. Build your whole life around that phrase.

I know you are hoping that life is going to serve you well, fill you up, and give you great success. It might, but I have found that life won’t think about you, only God can fill you to full, and success must be earned and is never guaranteed.

If you do earn success, it can be gone tomorrow. Don’t count on it to make you happy.

Happiness, by the way, is something you are never entitled to or deserve.

Finding the right woman to marry will make you or break you. When you find her and marry her, her whole family is included in the marriage. Your whole family too.

Sex is great, have it only with your wife.

Every year you live, it will go by faster.

Stuff will never make you happy, but you will be tempted your whole life to think so.

You will never be free from temptation, so don’t pray for protection from it more than you pray for strength to resist it.

Most people in your life will betray/hurt you in some form or another. Be very grateful for the few who do not. And no matter what happens, don’t let bitterness and un-forgiveness reside very long in your heart.

Live your life working very hard to not hurt or betray the people in your life. You will not be perfect in this endeavor.

Resist taking anything for granted. Your family, your church, your job, your success, your money…anything. There is no guarantee that it will be there for you tomorrow. The only person/thing that is guaranteed to be there for you is Jesus Christ.

Do not let fear hold you back from anything.

Every job situation will look great from the interview…you will know the truth once you accept the job and get into the job’s reality.

When you swim in a cesspool long enough you will get used to the smell. So…if you ever notice you are in a cesspool, get out immediately.

There is a lot to think about in the wisdom line I just shared above.

Do not let concern for what people think influence your decisions.

God will ask you to do things that will make no sense at all…do them anyway.

Do not believe for one second that God is interested in your comfort more than your character. God uses pain to refine character. If you don’t like that fact, it won’t do you any good to get mad at God about it.

You are going to hurt people. Do not do it on purpose, ever. When you do hurt people, say you are sorry and mean it.

The phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Is true and it’s a choice. They really are just words.

Hurt people….hurt people. So…when someone hurts you, think about what has hurt them that causes them to now hurt you. It will help you forgive them.

If you promote the progress and purpose of others, you will look back over your life grateful and fulfilled and spent.

When you promote the progress and purpose of someone else, don’t expect them to do the same for you.

The size of the dream you have in life and whether or not you accomplish it, is directly correlated to how much pain and suffering you are willing to endure.

A majority of people will never win the lottery, or have even 15 minutes of fame. Don’t live for that hack dream. Remember, that anything worth having will never comes easy.

If something is worth doing, it is worth doing…even poorly.

If you are not good at something you really should do, keep practicing. You’ll get better. Someday you’ll be an expert at it.

If you have children, they will bring great joy into your heart.
If you have children, they will squeeze your heart with worry and fear.
If you have children, do everything in your power to make them successful. They will be here long after you are gone.
Try to have children. If you cannot, then adopt or foster.

Travel to a 3rd world country as soon as you can and spend no less than 4 days serving those who live there.

Never forget the people who live every day in 3rd world countries where you only visited.

If you become successful, do not let other people write what you should say.
If you become successful, do not purposefully have a public relations spokesman speak on your behalf.
If you become successful, do not prevent all bad news from getting to you…If you only let good news reach you, you will live a life starved of the truth about yourself.

Your wife knows you better than everybody except God. Listen to her unless she tells you different than God.
Do not keep news from your wife. You and your wife are one. You will not be really protecting her when you leave her in the dark about anything.

Do not keep secrets of any kind.
Live your life in such a way that you are not even tempted to keep secrets.

Speak the truth even if it makes your voice shake.

You can raise your voice and get angry without sinning.

Don’t forget the side of love that is loud, hard to give, and delivers pain.

Freedom is always living for and with others. When you only live for yourself, you are not actually free…you are slave to self.

You will never feel like forgiving, but forgive anyway and often if necessary.

Forgiveness does not mean the offender doesn’t face consequences.

You should love everybody. That does not mean you will like everybody.

How you live your life on this earth is your choice to enter Heaven or Hell. Choose wisely because God will honor your choice.

Read the Bible as often as possible. Do what it says, no matter the consequences.

Jesus is the truth and the only way to Heaven. Don’t ever let your doubt about that fact, convince you otherwise.

No matter how unpopular it makes you, never ever disagree in word or action with what Jesus of Nazareth says.

Try to have a sense of humor about yourself. It will be harder on some days than others.

The more you laugh at yourself, the lighter life will be.

You can’t control anything. That’s God’s job.

Who you are is more important than what you do or what you have.

Don’t ever forget how much God loves you.

Life is short. Live in faith, but take risks.

Do not mistake risk with faith. They are very different. Faith is confident assurance. Risk is not.

Always be a learner. The best teachers are those who are always trying to learn something.
The best way to learn is to ask questions and listen.
The next best way to learn is simply by experience.
Learning by experience can be very painful.
The most painful learning experiences may be expensive, but they are still a great education.

When an old man sits and shares with you, it’s always a good idea to have a pen and paper. That’s why I wrote these down for you. Next time, bring your own paper and pen.

When I die…I will be waiting for you in Heaven. Make sure you get there. I’d like to sit with you and have more of these chats.

The next time we sit and chat…I’d like to listen to you tell me about what your life experience has taught you.

See you soon.

Trent