Tuesday, April 7, 2015


"Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord." - Psalm 27:14 (The Amplified Bible)


Everyone hates waiting. This is especially true in our high-speed, broadband, microwave culture. We want what we want when we want it and waiting for it is simply unacceptable.

This is the part where I go on a lengthy rant about our nation's culture of narcissism. Obviously our society has some pretty hefty issues that are not going to be eradicated by lawyers turned politicians or politicians turned power-crazed despots-in-waiting. Believe me, I could go on for a while (and did in a previous draft of this blog post) about the ills of our current American society...

But that's not what this blog entry is about...at least, not entirely.

This is about waiting on the Lord and the importance of patience in the service of our King.

You see, what I've personally learned about God is, He is fully aware of all of society's ills. Pick any scale you want to talk about. Local, state-wide, national, international, or global...God's got a handle on every complicated detail of what is going on in the world.

The thing is, God's plans for this planet are pretty succinctly detailed for us in His Word. Just start with the creation account and work your way through to the end of the world prophecies in Revelation and we can get a really good God's-eye view of His plans for humanity. If I can summarize those plans, I'd say they are fairly huge in scope, they are brain-meltingly awesome in nature, and they are eternal.

The last thing I'd say about God's plans for us is they are in direct contradiction to our sinful human nature.

That is why God spends so much of His time working to "redeem" and "transform" us from that sinful nature into a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led one. No matter how intelligent, educated, and talented we become, we are but pale imitations to the one who created us in His own image. We cannot see what God sees. We cannot know what God knows. We cannot do what God does.

This is why a relationship with God is so imperative to our participation in His plans. We will never, and I mean NEVER, realize the full potential of our God-given talents and Divine callings as along as we are calling the shots in our lives. God's ultimate goal is for us to become 100% submitted to His Word, His Will, and His Ways for our individual lives so we can used to fulfill his plans for this planet and ultimately His kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven".

So, what does all of this have to do with waiting on God? I'm very glad you asked.

Our personal level of patience is one of several litmus tests God uses to show us where we are in our walk with Him; specifically our level of submission to Him.  Patience is, by far, one of the more difficult fruits of the Holy Spirit to walk in because of our selfish human natures.

I repeat: we want. We want what we want. We want what we want when we want it. If we cannot have what we want when we want it, we tend to respond badly. This one concept is the very definition of immaturity. Every parent on the planet can testify of the frustrations inherent in the task of raising a 2 year old. There is no one more selfish on the planet that a two year old human child. No matter how much we love and adore our children, nothing pushes that devotion to its limits more than a toddler throwing a tantrum because they aren't getting their way. Just think of every child you've heard screaming in a grocery store and you know exactly how God feels when we do the same thing to Him.

Impatience is an observable proof of our spiritual and emotional immaturity. It also is what disqualifies us for any meaningful service to the King. Simply put, He cannot use us to the fullest extent of our potential so long as we are governed by our own passions and opinions. Imagine how different the Bible stories would be if the men and women God chose to use to fulfill His plans for this earth had the spiritual and emotional maturity of a two year old child?

How far would Noah have gotten in his 120 year ark-building project if he'd had the patience of a toddler? How much longer would Israel have suffered in Egyptian slavery had Moses walked away from the burning bush because he didn't want to lead Israel to their promised land? How many Jews would Goliath and the Philistines have killed had David been focused on his wants, wishes, and desires for himself instead of God's plans for him?

Waiting on God is a very difficult concept to sell in our modern American culture. Generally speaking, our culture is based on our feelings. We are taught from birth to 'follow our hearts' and 'do what makes us happy'. Even our nation's carefully worded founding documents declares we all have been "endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

The American dream is the pursuit of whatever makes us happy. Concepts like 'freedom', 'liberty' and 'rights' have been transformed over the generations from ideas designed to free humanity from governmental tyranny into the rhetoric of narcissists. We proudly beat our chests and proclaim ourselves free to say what we feel is right, have sex with whomever we want to have sex with whenever we feel like it, and basically do anything and everything that will bring us pleasure, purpose, and personal satisfaction to the fullest extent of the law (and then some).

Then God comes along and says to this American dream, "I want you to submit to Me. I want you to exchange your dreams, goals, and plans for your life for MY dreams, goals, and plans for your life." It should be fairly obvious this concept is in total contradiction to the thought processes of most red-blooded, flag-waving Americans.

Is it any wonder why American Christianity has digressed into a materialistic message focused on health, wealth, and happiness, generally speaking? Does the popularity and growth of the so-called 'prosperity gospel' surprise anyone living in 21st century America? Transforming God into our personal concierge who is just waiting for us to 'speak into existence' our every want, wish, and desire couldn't be a more American theology if had been birthed by George Washington and preached by Benjamin Franklin.

There is a rude awakening awaiting most of God's people. The truth of God's word is much more blunt than most church attendees want to believe. The facts about our Potter's perfecting process have little to do with our personal pursuits of pleasure and everything to do with elevating Christ to His rightful place as King of kings and Lord of lords in our everyday lives. The gospel of Jesus Christ isn't just about saving lost humanity from eternal damnation, it is also about transforming redeemed humanity into God-led, Christ-centered, Spirit-filled members of the Kingdom of God who are "meet for the master's use".

A major component of that transformation is the presence of patience in the face of life's trials, tribulations, and tragedies.

Patience is not based on feeling. I confess, I still get frustrated when life does not play out it my favor. But patience is not the absence of frustration when we're forced to wait for God to move in response to our prayers. Patience is the choice we make to submit to God's will for us. God's timelines are not ours. His desires for us are not the same as ours. His plans for us are certainly not the same as ours. The choice before us is to either submit to His plan, His desires, and His timeline for us or to reject all of that in favor of our own.

Choosing to go our own way means we are depending on our own abilities and knowledge to meet every challenge and handle every situation that will come upon us; good or ill. When we go our own way, God is relegated to pedestrian observer rather than the source of our strength. Choosing our own path for ourselves restricts God to a very limited role in our lives; not by His choice but by ours. In this reality, patience becomes a virtually unattainable virtue. It becomes an ethereal concept that seems just out of reach. We all claim to want more of it but few of us actually do what is necessary to attain it.

So, how does one get more patience?

Oh, I am so glad you asked that...

To Be Continued

Thursday, March 12, 2015


"Remember, O Lord, what has come upon us; look, and behold our reproach! Our inheritance has been turned over to aliens, and our houses to foreigners. We have become orphans and waifs, our mothers are like widows. We pay for the water we drink, and our wood comes at a price. They pursue at our heels. We labor and have no rest." - Lamentations 5:1-5

The book of Lamentations has become one of the most relevant books in the Bible to me. I hardly read from it in my pastoring years. But after what I have experienced over the last half decade, this book has become one of the most powerful books in the entire bible to me.

If you don't know what this book is about, I'll give you the very brief nutshell summary of it:

The prophet Jeremiah is lamenting over Israel's physical and spiritual condition following Jerusalem's destruction by Babylon. What was once considered impossible by God's people is now a nightmarish reality and the great city of Jerusalem stands in ruins. The entire book of Lamentations is Jeremiah's divinely inspired reaction to the aftermath of God's judgment on His stiff-necked and hard hearted people.

As I said, this book has become particularly personal for me. In fact, it was a single verse in the first chapter of this book that started me on my return course back to God.

If you were to look up the definition of the words "stubborn", "stiff-necked", or "hard-hearted" at any time over the last 10 or 15 years, the only descriptives for those words would have been my picture. As I look back at my attitude and perspective during my final years in full-time ministry I am constantly amazed at how blinded I became to my pride and selfishness. One of the worst things that can happen to a child of God is for them to become a victim of another believer's carnal actions. As a young pastor, I had plenty of reasons to play the victim card and I did at every opportunity.

The problem with living our lives as a professional victim is it is impossible to have any kind of meaningful relationship with anyone. We're all about us when we embrace a victim mentality. No one has hurt like we have hurt. No one can feel what we feel. No amount of sympathy or empathy can match our pain. No other perspective than ours has any value to us. We are hurting and we don't want to hear anything from anyone that does not empower us to continue wallowing in our hurts and pains. At the risk of being cold and blunt, professional victims are the most selfish, self-centered narcissists on the planet; of whom I was chief.

At the core of my hurt was my assumption that God had lied to me. I believed whole-heartedly that God had abandoned me in the hour of my greatest need. That assumption and the disillusionment that followed was devastating to my faith; to say nothing of any meaningful relationship with Him. The more I gave myself to my anger and bitterness, the more marginalized God became in my life until He eventually entered mythological status in my heart and mind.

That's right. A pastor of Jesus Christ found himself at a point where he did not believe in the existence of God anymore.

The scripture I've quoted above has a phrase in verse five that I want to focus on with you for a bit. The phrase is "we labor and have no rest". If I could encapsulate the last 6 years of my life in one sentence, the last six words of Lamentations 5:5 flawlessly capture where being a professional victim brought me.

Since stepping down from full-time pastoral ministry in 2009, I have worked in four different secular positions. Without exception, I have not worked harder for less personal benefit than I have in each of these positions. From 2009 to now, I have never been this financially strapped in my adult life. I have literally not stopped working over the last 5 years. I have had no leisure time, no vacations, or any rest for over half a decade. Each of these years has been a grind unlike anything I've ever experienced in my life.

Now, before any of you conclude I'm whining about losing my gravy-train job, I want to take you back to the setting of Lamentations. The reason why Jerusalem stood in ruins wasn't because of Babylon's superior military strength. Israel's history is pregnant with tales of their overcoming superior forces by the power of God. The reason why Babylon was able to destroy Jerusalem was because of Israel's hard-hearted choices and stiff-necked decisions to reject God and embrace their selfish, pride-filled lusts.

Jeremiah isn't whining about Israel's military defeat or the hardness of losing a military battle. Jeremiah is lamenting the loss of Israel's identity as God's people. Jeremiah is weeping over God's absence from Israel's hard-hearts. God's prophet is crying over the broken relationship between God and His chosen people.

This is what playing the victim card produced in my life. I lost my identity as a child of God. Please understand, I'm not saying I lost my position as His child; losing our salvation is impossible (if you disagree with that point, save your emails. You won't win this one with me).  I'm saying I lost my identity. My pain and bitterness had so consumed me that I completely forgot who I was. I lost sight of the fact that I am a child of the King of kings and Lord of lords. I was so focused on my victimhood that I forgot my priesthood as a member of God's courts. I was so committed to protecting myself from any future hurts that I stripped myself of the armor God provides us and entered the wilderness naked. In short, I became lion food, not because of the actions of those who hurt me but solely because of my choice to stay angry at them.

Because of my decision to stay a victim, I entered a restless season of hardships and destruction that threatened everything I have; including my relationship with my family. What I once thought was impossible had become a nightmarish reality and my family stood in ruins...because of me.

Jesus made an amazing statement during his teaching ministry that I want to conclude this blog entry with. At the end of Matthew 11, Jesus prayed a prayer of thanksgiving to His Father for hiding his teachings "from the wise and prudent" and instead revealed His truths "to babes". He then makes an incredible proclamation about divine revelation that God's people would do well to dive into and meditate on.

Finally, Jesus introduces a concept that most tenured church attendees are very familiar with. Jesus instructs His disciples and anyone who will listen to him to "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." It is this divine rest that I want to speak to you about. The old saying "you never know what you have until you lose it" has never been more relevant in my life than in discussing the rest God provides His people.

I'm not talking about a cessation of activity. If you look closely at the very next verse, Jesus speaks of yoking up with Him. A yoke is a symbol of work. There is no other purpose for a yoke than to join beasts of burden together for the purpose of plowing a field, pulling a wagon, or any number of labor-intensive things.

So God's offer is not to give us a life of leisure and ease. What He wants to provide us with is a labor that benefits everyone involved in the work. Rather than becoming an employee of a company where our labors bring the most benefit to the company owners, God wants to send us into His kingdom fully equipped to do "the work of the ministry" that He has called us to. He wants to give us our purpose and send us into the world not to just perform labor but to fulfill our calling. God wants to do more than give us a job; he wants to give us the reason for our existence.

Does any of this sound like something you'd be interested in? If it does, you had better pay attention to Matthew 11:29. We will never, and I do mean NEVER, discover our divinely revealed purpose without first yoking up with Christ. I'm not talking about church attendance or busy work in a church setting. All of that is fine and good, but in time busy work becomes a chore to perform and church attendance can become a duty to endure.

What Christ offers is the gift of His grace and favor on whatever we put our hands to do because we are doing what He is blessing instead of asking Him to bless what we are doing.

What Christ is talking about is developing a relationship with him that goes beyond church attendance, beyond ministry work, beyond anything we've ever experienced before.

What Christ wants to do is teach you how to literally follow Him. He wants to empower us to do battle with the enemy of our souls. He wants to equip us to walk worthy of the vocation He has called us to. He doesn't want to just employ us, he wants to deploy us.

But He cannot do any of this until we have 'learned of Him'. He will not deploy poorly trained soldiers into the field of battle. He cannot use selfish, pride-filled saints who don't know how to listen to His voice or obey His commands. He knows as much as anyone what selfish saints become over time.

They become victims.

There is nothing more deadly to a believer's faith than becoming a victim.

There is nothing that will destroy your world faster than letting the enemy transform you into a professional victim.

There is nothing more exhausting than selfish living. I know. I've got over a decade of experience laboring without any rest.

But praise God, for those of us who choose to yoke up with Christ and refuse to harden our hearts, there is something that every one of us desperately needs waiting for us...

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


"But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me and every tongue shall confess to God. So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore..." - Romans 14:10-13a

Joel Osteen

There hasn't been a more polarizing name within evangelical Christianity in my lifetime. You would be hard pressed to find anyone inside or even outside of the Body of Christ who hasn't heard of Joel. You certainly can't swing a dead church anywhere in Houston, Texas without hitting an ocean of opinions about Joel, Lakewood Church, or the ministries birthed from that church.

Okay, here's where I put my disclaimers:

I do not know Joel Osteen.
I've never met the man.
I've never spoken to him.
I've never read anything he's written.
My only experience with Joel Osteen are the few times I've stopped my channel surfing to watch and listen to one of Lakewood Church's heavily edited 30 minute programs.

I have my opinions about Joel Osteen's preaching style, sermon content, and physical appearance. That and $5.00 will get you a big cup of Starbucks.

My reason for invoking the name of Joel Osteen is to discuss a disease within the Body of Christ that has been running rampant for generations. In fact, this soul sickness has been around since the enemy of our souls introduced doubt about God's Word into man's thought processes (Genesis 3:1).

This disease is at the root of the mass exodus of many modern church-goers. It is the primary reason for the birth and existence of all of Christianity's denominations and sub-denominations. It is a foundational cause for all of the church fights, church splits, and pastoral vacancies.

The disease is pride and its manifestation as ungodly judgment between God's people.

Pride's impact on humanity began in Eden and has carried its viral destruction across human history. Pride is insidious, deceptive, nearly impossible to self-diagnose, and its impact on the Body of Christ at large cannot be overstated.

Think I've entered hyperbole-land?  Here's a fun exercise. Drop Joel Osteen's name on your Twitter feed or your Facebook page. It doesn't matter what light you paint him in. You can be negative or positive in your post. Just type Joel Osteen's name and wait. I guarantee, before the sun sets, your Facebook/Twitter feed will be filled with positive and negative declarative statements from pride-filled people about a man they have never met, never spoken to, and know absolutely nothing about save for what they've seen, heard, or read from his ministry output.

Does anyone see the problem with that scenario?

Opinions are fine. Everybody's got them and I'm certainly not advocating the abolition of sharing opinions about any given subject. If I were to do that, I'd have to shut this blog down and stop preaching, teaching, or basically speaking out loud to anyone.  Forming and sharing opinions is not the problem.

The problem is when we believe our opinions are divinely inspired and profitable for reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.

I find it humorous that whenever the subject of ungodly judging comes up in an instructional setting, those that feel they have the right to sit in judgment of their fellow believers usually run to their favorite justifications for their actions:

Judging Justification #1: God's word tells us to judge one another. I'm just obeying the scriptures.

Judging Justification #2: There are wolves out there devouring the sheep. Somebody's got to warn them before it's too late!

Judging Justification #3: You telling me I'm being judgmental is judgmental. You're a hypocrite and I don't have to listen to you anymore.

To the first point, I will agree God's Word does indeed give instruction for saint-on-saint judging (1 Corinthians 5:12, 6:1-5; Philippians 1:9). However, in the context of those scriptures, there is the understanding that the individuals charged with judging be "filled with the fruits of righteousness" (Philippians 1:11). In other words, judging has requirements beyond owning a Bible and possessing the ability to form thoughts and opinions about any given subject.

To the second point, I agree there are wolves seeking to devour the sheep. However, I would also add that it is very difficult to discern wolves from sheep without God's involvement in the process. It has been my experience that many who are on the hunt for the wolves do so from an intellectual, human perspective than a spiritual one. If you doubt this statement, you haven't been on any of the Christian forums found on the internet.

To the third point, I would ask a simple question. What was the difference between the Pharisees calling Jesus a heretic and Jesus calling the Pharisees hypocrites and vipers?  Judgment was invoked on both sides but only one side was using 'godly judgment'. The other side (see: Pharisees) were using what Christ described as judging "according to the flesh".

I could write on this subject for a while, complete with a lot of personal anecdotes.  The plain truth is, we all struggle with understanding the difference between our personal opinions/preferences and Holy Spirit-led discernment. God knows I've misjudged many people and situations over the years because I was blinded to my capacity for pride-filled, ungodly judgment. The stories I could tell of mistakes I've made on this front could fill several books.

On the flip side, I've also been the subject of many people's judgments. In every case those who judged me and my family were firmly convinced of their infallibility in correctly identifying error and sin in my and my family's lives. They could not have been more wrong.

The truth of the matter is, when we speak words of judgment on other believers, we are speaking on behalf of God. This cannot be overstated. Speaking on behalf of God carries a great deal of responsibility, including penalties for failing to represent Him properly.

Not just anyone can hold the title of 'judge'; not on Earth nor in Heaven. Judges must be appointed and that appointment only comes once the appointee has met the requirements for being a judge. No one with any measure of sanity would consider it appropriate for someone to walk into a court of law, grab a black robe, take a seat in the judge's chair, and start presiding over court cases. Yet most of God's people have no problem appointing themselves judges in God's kingdom because they have tenure and/or title in a church, have sat through a number of Bible studies and/or sermons, and have a copy of the Bible in their possession.

It takes more to be a judge in God's kingdom than a collection of memory verses and a pulse.

At the risk of being misjudged as insulting, I will spell out the biblical requirement for godly judging for you:

Godly Judging Requirement: The godly judge must be submitted to the Lord The Righteous Judge.

That's it. That's the requirement.  Of course, elaboration is needed lest any be deceived into thinking they automatically meet this requirement because of their church attendance or biblical knowledge.

"Submitted" means more than a token excursion into the spiritual realm whenever we feel like attending church or have to pray to God when there's an emergency. "Submitted" also means more than a duty-bound, legalistic approach to serving God wherein our pride is 'puffed up' by our collection of spiritual merit badges earned by every act of compliance to a man-centric form of church service.

Submission means complete 24/7 sacrifice of our will and ways to God. If we are not willing to truly make Christ the Lord of our lives, we have no business speaking on His behalf; ESPECIALLY in the area of judging others.

If we are not obeying God in our daily 24/7 lives, we are not qualified to question anyone else's obedience of God. To do so is to enter into the hypocrisy that Christ spoke against throughout His earthly ministry (John 8:15).

If we are bringing judgment against sinners who commit sins we are not guilty of but are doing nothing to purge ourselves (2 Timothy 2:21) of our own sins and weaknesses, we have no credibility as a 'righteous judge' and as such our judgments become 'obstacles' and 'stumbling blocks' instead of spiritual correctives. (Romans 14:13b)

I realize these statements are not popular, especially among those who have placed themselves in the position of judging others. But the truth is if we haven't met the qualifications for speaking on behalf of God in the form of godly judgment, we need to sit down, yoke up with Christ, and learn of Him (Matthew 11:29).  If you don't know what those qualifications are, you REALLY need to yoke up with Christ before you engage in any judgmental activities.

My reason for approaching this subject is at the core of my being. It isn't just my personal experience in ministry or my tenure in church that drives me to bring instruction on this controversial subject. It is my passion to see God's people matured into Spirit-filled, Spirit-led vessels of honor that drives me. I am eager to pass on what God has been teaching me about the Christian lifestyle. I am filled with this singular passion and it is this passion that has brought me to a level of relationship with Christ that I never knew was possible on this side of eternity.

It is in the bowels of Christ that I have learned and am still learning how to see this Earth through His eyes. It is during an extended season of being yoked up with Him that I have begun to see and understand the difference between leaning on my own understanding and leaning on His everlasting arms.

God did not call us to be wolf hunters. He did not instruct us to identify and remove the goats/tares from the sheep/wheat. We are not put on this earth to seek and destroy those who do not preach like we would preach, teach the way we would teach, or serve the way we would serve.  What God wants us to do is walk in humble obedience with Him and let Him lead us into all truth. He wants us to live a sanctified, submissive, sacrificial life. He desires us to make Him Lord over every aspect of our lives.

When we succeed in consistently and habitually living as a vessel of honor, then we are qualified to speak on His behalf.  That includes many different types of manifestations, including divinely guided discernment and judgment.

Filled with God, we can and do operate supernaturally.

Filled with self, all we have to lean on are our five senses and the knowledge we've collected over the years.

I'll let you judge for yourself which way is preferable to our King...

Monday, January 12, 2015


"God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in time of trouble.

Therefore, WE WILL NOT FEAR,
Even though the Earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.          Selah.

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.

The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

THE GOD OF JACOB IS OUR REFUGE.                 Selah.

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the Earth.
He makes wars cease to end of the Earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot with fire.

Be still and know that I am God;
I WILL be exalted among the nations,
I WILL be exalted in the Earth!

THE GOD OF JACOB IS OUR REFUGE.                  Selah."

- A Psalm of the Sons of Korah to the Chief Musician. (Psalm 46)

Fear is rampant. Terror has saturated our national consciousness. Civilization is under attack by evil men who have bastardized the concept of religion (regardless of the specific tenets) and twisted the idea of submissive commitment to a deity figure into a vile and disgusting abomination baptized in the blood of innocents.  With every terror attack by fundamental extremists in the name of their gods, the cry against religion in all of its forms grows.  It's a natural reaction; especially with the 'blame-game' mentality that our culture has become immersed in within my lifetime.

This is the part where I come to the defense of religion as a concept.  If that's what you're looking for, you'd better keep surfing.  Anyone who knows me or has heard me speak on this subject knows my viewpoint on religion is not a positive one.  That may sound strange coming from a professing Christian minister. After all, preaching and religion go together like bacon and eggs, peanut butter and jelly, politics and corruption, death and taxes.  I can keep going if you wish; I've got a million of these.

Allow me to define the word 'religion' for you.  Webster's dictionary defines religion thusly:

Religion (noun) - 1. The belief in a god or in a group of gods.  2. An organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or group of gods.  3. An interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group.

I've looked up the word 'religion' in every dictionary I can find. They all basically say the same thing. Religion is a system of traditions, rules, and ceremonial activities used to worship a deity figure or a group of deity figures.

Doesn't that definition make you want to rush out and find the nearest church of your choice?

If that doesn't do it for you, perhaps this sample of a typical religious service that most people associate with the word 'Christianity' will convince you of the power of religion.

Please understand, I'm not attempting to slag any particular denomination in favor of a different one. What I'm stating here is religion, as defined by the dictionary, practiced by most churches, and hated by a growing number of people is as far removed from what God intended for His people as the Earth is from the end of the universe.

Generally speaking, religion is quite often an empty, vacuous exercise designed by man to control the masses with guilt, fear, and threats of divine judgment.  We've already taken a look at God's desires from mankind; but to put it simply, God did not create mankind for the purpose of inventing religion.  He created man to build a kingdom founded on a relationship between the King and His people.

Take a look at the psalm quoted above.  What you are reading are the heartfelt words of people who desperately need God to defend them against their enemies.  They are not praying empty words of religion.  These words are not part of a powerless and boring ceremony that will be forgotten before the final 'amen' is whispered in the congregation. This psalm was not written to fill some book of religious liturgy to be read and chanted in a church service.

These words are the faith-filled cries of an oppressed people who have come to know God at a deeply personal and experiential level.  These words are not words of a faithless hope that some mysterious power out there in the celestial realms will hear them and act on their behalf.  These are the words of a people who KNOW who they are talking to and declaring what they have already experienced with Him.  These are words of relationship; not religion.

The travesty of religion is its power to render God powerless in our daily lives.  For far too many people, religious ceremony has replaced developing a relationship with God. The attitude of many church attendees is not unlike the attitude of those called to go to jury duty. Church attendance is seen as some sort of obligation to stay on God's good side 'just in case'. Instead of becoming the source and the foundation for our lives, God is often viewed in the same light as the fire or police departments. He's our first responder in times of trouble and our religious practices are our 'get out of jail free' cards.

Now I realize I'm painting with a very broad brush here. I do know of people who benefit greatly from a tradition-heavy, regimented church service. If that sentence describes you, then rejoice in your walk with God. Again, my purpose in writing this blog is not to put one type of church service over another. The point of this blog is to identify a huge gap between honoring God with our religious activities while keeping our hearts far from Him.

God's desire for us go far beyond our Sunday activities. His plans for us have little to do with what church we attend or what denomination we affiliate ourselves with. When we stand before our creator at the end of our days, He will not be quizzing us on our religious activities. He will be looking at our investment in His kingdom.

In other words, God's priorities and ours are not the same.

If your faith in God is based on your religious activity, then when you find yourself in a "time of trouble", chance are pretty good that you will not be able to rest in your experiential knowledge of "The Lord of Hosts".

When the Goliaths show up in your life to destroy you, it's a safe bet that your religious experiences won't have the same affects on your faith that a relationship with God will have.

When you find yourself in need of a savior, it won't be the prayers you prayed, the songs you sang, or the sermons you heard in a church service that saves you.  It will be your relationship with your "refuge and your strength".

What am I saying?  I'm telling you from personal experience that knowing ABOUT God is powerless in times of trouble. It is only in knowing God from a practical, experiential relationship with Him that we find out just how accurate the Bible is. It is only when we know in whom we have believed that we understand what the psalmist was talking about when he declared "The LORD is my refuge and my strength..."

It is only when we embrace a relationship with God that the words in the Bible truly become The Word of God.

The world is a scary place. If you have any tenure on this planet you know the need for rescue from overwhelming problems. The world is begging for a human leader to rise up and save us from all of our social, economic, and political problems. If you're looking to a politician to be your refuge and your strength, you need to prepare yourself for eternal disappointment.  Man cannot fix the mess our world is in; they can only add to it.

There truly is only one source for happiness for our lives and it isn't at the bottom of a liquor bottle or the end of a needle. There is only one source for the solution to our needs and it isn't with doctors, lawyers, or politicians. There is only one place where you can truly find refuge and strength in the middle of the worst that life can throw at you and it isn't at a bar or a casino or even in most of our churches.

There is only one present help in time of trouble. Do you know Him or do you just know about Him?

The answer to that question is the difference between life and death...


Tuesday, December 30, 2014


"...and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men...

...unless they don't think like you think, look like you look, believe in what you believe in, vote the way you vote, sin the way you sin, smell the way you smell, eat what you eat, or are different from you in any observable way, no matter how minute the detail. Then it is okay to spew hate-filled bile and venom onto them, their children, and their children's children in the name of doctrinal purity and an uncompromised stand for the truth of God's Word until their contaminated bloodline is extinguished from the Earth." - Luke 2:14 (The Ignorant Believer's Translation of the Holy Scriptures)

Stop me if you've heard this one before:

A young twenty-something year old preacher's son reveals a secret about himself that he has struggled with his entire life. The revelation is that he is gay and the father's reaction to this revelation is a prime example of what is wrong with most of modern Christianity.

Ostracized and rejected, the young man moves away from his home and everyone he ever knew to seek refuge from the 'righteous' judgement from the only people on the planet who were supposed to show him unconditional love. I'm not just talking about his father or extended family members (who received this revelation about the way you would expect.). I'm talking about the larger family of believers who have benefited greatly from unconditional love and forgiveness themselves.

Now in his 30s, this young man still struggles with the pain and rejection he received, and continues to receive, from the Body of Christ at large. Yeah, it's a true story that has happened in my extended family and yeah, this story is repeated regularly within God's churches.

Now before anyone starts sharpening their pitchforks and lighting their torches, I need to make something very, very clear.  I am in no way attempting to liberalize the scriptures and teach a very modern perspective on homosexuality. On the contrary, what this post, and indeed this entire blog is about is understanding the difference between our human perspectives and God's.  If there is anything I have learned in the last decade of my journey with God it is that our perspective and God's are as far removed from each other as the East is from the West.

Of course, that fact doesn't stop God's people from operating from our own perspective while speaking on His behalf whether we know what we're talking about or not.

One of the most challenging aspects of Christianity, especially for ministers, is learning how to recognize the difference between our opinions and perspectives and God's. Much damage has been done to the Body of Christ by well intentioned but woefully misguided souls who sought to bring correction to a fellow Christian from a carnal position of human understanding rather than a Spirit-filled, Spirit led perspective.

Every minister on the planet struggles with this, including me. God knows I have mistaken my perspective for God's many times over the years. It is very easy to assume my thoughts on sin and God's are in lock-step and act accordingly. After all, we are all taught that if we observe activity that we perceive to be "sinful" we are to bring correction with the authority of scripture. If you have the title of "minister", it is your duty to correct sins, real or imagined, with the passion of Peter and the zeal of Paul.

While this may sound super spiritual and righteous, the reality is most of the correction performed in Christianity is baptized in carnal thought processes and pride-filled agendas that have more resemblance to rock-tossing Pharisees than Spirit-filled saints 'speaking the truth in love'.

For example:

The church I pastored in Galena Park was a very educational experience for me on how to NOT act in a Christ-like manner when it came to correcting sins. One occasion involved an unmarried young couple (who were "living in sin") whom I had the privilege of leading to Christ over an extended period of time of home Bible studies. They were excited to be baptized into their new church home and showed up at Sunday services just oozing with the energy that only comes from newborn Christians. I very happily baptized both of them and, as was our custom, invited their new church family to welcome them to the church at the end of the baptismal service.

The following Sunday, my newborn members were no-shows for service. Considering their 'unchurched' status prior to their salvation, I didn't think much of it. When you're used to sleeping in on Sunday, rolling out of bed for church can be a challenging adjustment to even the most radically saved believer. I reached out to them the following week and got no response. When the weeks turned to months with no sign of them, I knew there was a problem that went well beyond weekend sleeping habit adjustments.

It was several months later when I finally found the young man at his home. To say his reception of my unannounced visit was awkward is an understatement of Biblical proportions. He clearly did not want to talk to me but since this was my first interaction with either of them since their baptism, I knew I had to take advantage of this opportunity to find out what had happened. After several minutes of lame excuses (sickness, change in work schedule, more sickness), the truth finally came out. By the time he finished telling me why they had not returned to church following their baptism, I was physically ill.

It seems that my well intentioned, but horribly misguided church family decided that this young couple's baptism service was the perfect time to start 'correcting' their obvious sins. As the church membership filed past the young couple to welcome them to the family, several members informed them of their need to conform to the church's dress code. One member let the young couple know the Bible tucked under the young man's arm was the wrong translation. Of course the biggest issue on the table for correction was their marital status. Obviously wedding plans would have to be made immediately so these babes in Christ could be 'accepted in the beloved'

To be fair, it was not all of the members. Most of the people in my church simply hugged their necks and welcomed them to family. But it really doesn't take too many self-appointed spiritual watchmen to transform what should have been a celebration of God's grace into a spiritual flagellation session in the name of doctrinal purity. Needless to say, this young couple never darkened the doors of our church building again and I cannot say I blame them in the slightest.

Naturally I knew who the offending parties were. This was hardly the first example of people being run out of our church by members who were chock full of Bible knowledge and completely devoid of anything resembling spiritual wisdom. When I called them into my office to instruct them to cease and desist from bringing any future correction to church members, I was told in no uncertain terms that they had no intention of putting an end to their destructive practices. After all, they informed me, they were to obey God rather than men.

The idea of bringing scriptural correction to sinners is a very popular one in Christianity. The truth of the matter is there are scriptures that speak of taking action against sin in the camp. Anyone with even a thimble-full of Biblical knowledge understands the danger of compromising Biblical truth in order to attract a larger audience. There is certainly no shortage of watered-down gospels circulating the evangelical airwaves that have led people down doctrinal roads that appeal to our human perspectives rather than God's.

But on the opposite side of that ditch lies a different type of doctrinal danger that is just as destructive as believing God is our personal Santa Claus who only wants to bless and prosper us. I'm referring to the absence of Spirit-led wisdom to accompany all of the Biblical knowledge our churches have been pumping out for generations.

If you aren't familiar with what 'wisdom' is, allow me to define it for you. Wisdom is knowing how to effectively use knowledge. Just knowing what the Bible says about any given subject doesn't actually do much to help the average person. There has to be an infusion of divine guidance, or Holy Spirit led wisdom, to know when and how to disseminate and apply that information. Without wisdom, the Bible can be (and very often is) clumsily used as a blunt instrument of destruction wielded with the intent of eradicating sin and sinner alike instead of as a surgical tool in the hands of a literal follower of the Great Physician used with the intent of bringing health and restoration to the afflicted.

Without Holy Spirit's involvement in the dissemination process, much damage can be (and has been) done to people within and without the Body of Christ. In order to effectively use God's Word in a practical way, we must have God's perspective. If we come at this from our own understanding, we are going to make mistakes. A lot of mistakes. Our vision is cloudy. We can't see and know what God sees and knows unless we are plugged into His frequency (for lack of a better analogy). That's just one of Holy Spirit's many functions in our Christian walk; to empower us to see and hear with God's vision and understanding.

But to consistently and habitually plug into God's perspective of things, we have to cultivate a healthy spiritual relationship with God. This is a daily, moment-by-moment lifestyle not a weekend-only excursion into the spiritual realm. Only by yoking up with Christ and following Him on a consistent basis can we develop ears to hear what the Spirit is saying in any given situation. Gaining these attributes takes time to cultivate and grow and that growth is a primary part of the Potter's perfecting process.

Unfortunately, many in the Body of Christ are ignorant of these things. Many believe the only thing they need to do battle with the enemy is a collection of memory verses and tenure in a church of their choosing.

This bears repeating ad nauseam. If God is not involved in the process of speaking the truth of His Word to the masses, then all we are left with is leaning unto our own understanding of things. To approach disseminating God's truth from our limited human perspectives is to put ourselves in the position to commit sins equal to or greater in severity than the sins we are attempting to bring correction to. As we have already discussed in earlier posts, God's list of sins he hates and ours aren't even in the same zip code. While zealously attacking homosexuality (for example), many of God's people are completely blinded to their own sins of pride, ungodly judgments, and sowing discord among God's people.

It happens every day in every church and it is the primary reason why the Body of Christ at large has the reputation among unbelievers that it does. Instead of focusing on the discriminating language used by agnostics and atheists in our society, if God's people were to focus on our individual walk with God and learn how to consistently live our lives with God's perspective, in time the attacks against Christianity would be based on bias and hatred for the name of Christ rather than on legitimate points of contention like hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and intolerant judgment on people who do not sin the way we sin.

I often wonder what kind of world we would have today if our churches had produced generations of Apostle Peters and Pauls instead of generations of zealous Simons and Sauls...

Thursday, December 18, 2014


I wrote this a few years ago to summarize my thoughts about the "Christmas Wars". Thought I'd dust it off for the Christmas season. Enjoy...

If Jesus is the reason for the holiday season
Like so many believers say
Then what is the reason for the indignation
When someone says “Happy Holidays”?

I wonder what bothers Jesus the most
About these Christmas wars
That his name is removed from a Christmas sign
Or that his followers ignore his words?

Does ‘peace on earth and good will toward men’
Only apply to our friends?
Are we to share God’s love all the time
Or only when it suits our ends?

Am I to love my neighbor more than myself
Unless they don’t think like me?
Are we to reach people just as they are
Or just as we want them to be?

If Jesus is the reason for the holiday season
Like so many people say
Then what is the reason for all of this anger
Leading up to Christmas day?

I wonder what bothers Jesus the most
About these Christmas issues
That his name is removed from a holiday
Or that his name is being misused?

Do we avenge when our faith is challenged
By those who don’t follow our Lord?
Do we walk in love like Jesus did
Or make plans to boycott stores?

Are we supposed to spend time looking for things
That would steal our joy and peace?
Did God leave us here to show His love
Or to be the social police?

All the world will despise his name
Christ said it would be this way
So it should come as no surprise to us
When ‘Christmas’ becomes ‘Winter Holiday’

Whatever issues the church may face
This truth will never fail
As long as Christ is the head of His church
We’ll never see the last noel

As long as Jesus Christ is King
We’ll never see the last noel.

Monday, December 15, 2014


"So the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes." - Genesis 18:26

Webster's Dictionary defines "SIN" with the following:

  1. an offense against religious or moral law
  2. an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible
  3. an often serious shortcoming; a fault
  4. transgression of the law of God
  5. a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged (separated) from God.
So, Webster's dictionary seems to have a pretty good handle on humanity's understanding of what sin is. In fact, I would say this list of definitions is a good representation of what sin is from man's point of view.

But, what about from God's point of view?  What is God's definition of "sin"?

The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah seem to best represent God's attitude toward sin. If you aren't familiar with the story, I recommend you start reading in Genesis 18:16 through to the end  of chapter 19 to get the full story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

There is no denying the sin of Sodom was "very great". What most people know of Sodom is the sexual perversion that has come to define the city. In fact, it is the story of Sodom's sexual perversion that coined the term "sodomy" in our modern vernacular. This perversion is detailed for us throughout Genesis 18 and 19 and is certainly reprehensible to anyone with a functioning moral compass. It is this sexual perversion that most people fixate on when the subject of Sodom and Gomorrah comes up and the more self-righteous among us like to use this story as a proof of God's hatred for sin and sinners.

However, before we join in the chorus of condemning these ancient perverts and assigning the title "hater of sinners" to God's name, I would ask a question. When reading the exchange between Abraham and the Lord in Genesis 18, specifically the "will you kill the righteous with the wicked" line of dialogue, do you believe God would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah if He had been able to find 10 righteous people in the city?

If the answer is 'yes', and there is no reason to believe the answer would be otherwise, then the remaining question begs an answer: what was the catalyst for God's decision to destroy the cities, the presence of sin or the absence of righteous people?

For those among us that tend toward believing in God's intense hatred for morally bankrupt people (or 'sinners'), the answer to this question is clear. God destroyed Sodom because He hates sin and sinners and those wicked perverts deserved the divine judgement and subsequent death and destruction they received.

However, what if the real reason God destroyed Sodom had less to do with the perverted actions of a people who did not know Him and more to do with the actions and attitudes of those people who supposedly did? What if God's view of sin isn't as cut and dried as punishing people that we feel deserve hellfire and brimstone? What if God's perspective on sin has more to do with the actions of His people than the actions of the people outside of His camp?

Generations of Christians have been taught that God hates sin and loves the sinner; and I believe that sentiment to be accurate. If the gospel of Jesus Christ truly is for 'whosoever will', then we have to understand that God's hatred for sin does not translate into hatred for the people who commit such acts. After all, one of the most powerful and popular verses of scripture in the entire Bible starts with the phrase, "For God so loved the world..."  That doesn't sound much like a God that is motived by hatred for perverted people.

So, if God truly hates the sin and loves the sinner, where does that leave the bulk of our Christian teachings about punishment for sin? How does one reconcile the love God supposedly has for humanity with the doctrine of eternal torment in Hell for those who die 'in their sin'?

Obviously this is a very deep and heavy subject that won't be adequately discussed in this simple blog post, but I will say that God's form of punishment for the sins of the world is the same as God's reasons for destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. Again, I believe the divine perspective on sin has less to do with the attitudes and actions of people who don't know Him and more to do with the attitudes and actions of those who do.

To get a little deeper into this, I'd like to take you to what I call the Bible's definitive list of the sins God hates.  This list is found in Proverbs 6:16-19.  What should be most surprising about this list of sins God hates isn't what is on the list; it's what isn't. If you look carefully at this list, you'll find that the attitudes and actions that would be on most of Christianity's top seven list (homosexuality, sexual perversion, drunkenness, etc) do not even get an honorable mention. In fact, a closer look at the list reveals God's perspective isn't so much on the actions of people as it is on the heart. If you're a student of scripture and have a healthy understanding of the whole counsel of God's Word, this fact is hardly a revelation.

The other point I'd like to bring out is just how prevalent the final sin on God's list is in most of our churches. The damage that has been done to the Body of Christ over centuries of His people ignoring God's hatred of 'sowing discord among the brethren' is impossible to understate. Just in my short lifetime, I have seen more destruction within a church setting accomplished by those who completely ignore Proverbs 6:19 than had a parade of homosexuals, prostitutes, and drunks through the average church auditorium. I have witnessed the permanent closing of several churches in my lifetime. None of those church doors closed because of sexual perversion or drug abuse. All of them closed because of the selfishness, self-governance, and pride-filled actions of people who were supposed to be on the same team as the rest of God's people.

And that is the point to this blog post. Despite Webster's definition, the true definition sin is not moral failings or offense against religious laws. God's definition of sin can actually be found in the spelling of the word "sin" itself. When you spell out the word "SIN", it's fairly easy to see the word is centered on the personal pronoun "I". That is the source of sin. When "I" am the center of my world, the result of that attitude is separation from God, or "sin".

The most deadly sins aren't the observable actions of morally bankrupt people. The sins that has God's full attention and that make His top seven list of things He hates can be summed up in the single word "PRIDE" (In fact, this spelling example works for the word "PRIDE" too.). When we choose to ignore our Creator's Word, Will, and Ways in favor of our own, we place ourselves in the position that belongs to God. HE is the King of Kings but when we choose to rebel against His instructions, His perfect kingdom is replaced with our own warped version that is dysfunctional and flawed to its core.

Many people like to blame God for all of the horrors that occur in the world. From national crises to personal issues, God is a very easy target to blame for everything bad that happens in the world. For the self-righteous among us, it is popular to place the blame for all evil onto the shoulders of "sinners"; from politicians to prostitutes and everything in between. In either case, the sin of pride colors the perspective of the one who loudly lays blame for society's ills onto everyone else.

But I repeat the question I posed earlier, are the sins of our society more a product of the immoral attitudes and actions of people who do not know God or the product of the attitudes and actions of the people who do?

Put another way, what difference would there be in our world if ALL of God's people operated as a united front instead of as a splintered, fragmented collection of churches? What change would happen in our nation if God's people were more interested in focusing on what binds us together instead of fixating on the differences that separate us? How would a unified army of God-led, Holy Spirit-filled saints affect our communities, our schools, our city halls, and police stations?

What difference would 10 righteous people have made in Sodom and Gomorrah?