I book-marked this awhile ago, and hadn’t listened to it until tonight. This was one of the most spine-chilling; emotional nine minutes I’ve every spent online. I’d love to see this be broadcast at a service and then just let people sit for awhile and dwell here. Powerful.
I was recently talking to a guy who is separating from his wife, because they “no longer got along”. He was explaining, with some resolve, that he was getting his kids every other weekend so that he could “keep being a dad”.
That’s not being a dad. Playing with children every other weekend makes you a Big Brother or Big Sister.
Taking care of their mother, showing them how to work through difficult times, being there at night so that they feel safe while they sleep, being there for every holiday, every special event and every step of their life – without the despair of knowing that their parents do not love one another… That is being a father. That is being a man.
I’m tired of culture coddling men who are too afraid to be men. Stop hiding behind the national statistics of divorce. Be courageous. Be a fighter. Do the hard things. Do walk away because “it’s hard”. Everything worth having is worth fighting for. Directly or indirectly your actions say something to your kids. Teach your kids to fight for their families. Teach them that parenting and a marriage are not part-time activities. Teach them that they are more important than your selfishness is.
I know I’ve posted this before, but it’s timeless and amazing!
Do not Hide your Light
On March 1, 2009 I shared my heart in a sermon regarding being in the world, but not of it and what that really means. My premise is that too many Christians have missed that fact that Christ’s mission was to the non-believer and that he was effective because (well other than being God) He engaged people and built relationships.
The church of today is far too content to “play church” on Sunday morning and to turn their nose up against those who don’t believe; forgetting that the only difference in some of us is that we yielding to the call. I am the chief sinner amoung you and I struggle every day with religion. Organized Church has become the land of the Pharisee and not refuge for the broken sinner. We must stop play-acting for our Church friends to the exclusion of the rest of the world. Life-style evanglism is the most effective tool we have go show Christ’s love. Not yelling from street corners, not rebuking young scared girls in front of clients, not “preaching” hatred against our elected officials. We are called to be more Christ like. Read the references in the slide to see how Christ engaged the “sinners’. BTW: We are all sinners….
One of our first steps is to know when to take a stand. This video clip is a great introduction to not being afraid of “man”, but in being a “light to the world”, even when it’s not comfortable.
Here are my slides and references from the sermon:
It’s harder than it sounds
There are many, many things that I struggle with on a daily basis. Amoung those are Christ’s relentless pursiut of my heart and His desire that I love others as He does – yes even my enemies. I, like many people, work in a gossipy and judgemental enviroment. Essentially I have a fairly visiable position in a large organization of about 1500. In that role, I have fans and then those who simply do not and will not like me. I’ve spent years concentrating on those people and have converted many, however I’ve realized that it’s impossible to be liked by everyone. Not that I have stopped trying, but I am aspiring to no longer lose sleep about it. In some instances folks have reasons to dislike me. Some people are simply convicted about themselves and some I have offended. Not everyone is as forgiving as Christ is.
As much as I desire to love others, to not stand in judgement, to not gossip and to not want to “put them in their place”, the desire does not always become reality. I wake up each morning telling myself that I will be kind and show the love of Christ – and then I get out of bed…
While preparing for a sermon, I was reading Romans 12:14-20. It had nothing to do with what I was preparing to speak on, but I dwelled on it non-the-less.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.
20 Therefore If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
I find two main issues with this – first I am greatly convicted in the fact that these verses do not suggest we think blessings,or think kindness toward our enemies. We must actually do it and feel it. People are pretty quick to know when you aren’t being sincere. In verse 16 it says that we should not be wise in our own opinion and that we must be humble. It’s hard to believe that we were called out by Christ and through his death were saved, yet at the same time not have a tendency to look down on those who don’t live as we think they should. Humanity has established some type of gauge as to what persons are good and which are bad, but God has said that we are all sinners and the He died for EVERYONE. It’s the second thing that is such a struggle for us. That is not to say that He isn’t grieved by our sin; but He’s grieved by all sin – not just those who do it more frequently.
However, I know that Christ has told us that we will be judged by the same measure that we measure others. God help me… I’ve often fallen and often judged those who have fallen.
The Salvation of All
I am thankful that I have seen many of the low points in my life. I wasn’t at the time that I was living through them, but I’ve got much more of a heart for those who are stuggling. Now, I am working on not judging those who judge – don’t think on that too hard, it’ll hurt your brain. I really do tend to get most upset with those who are judgemental and trivial with others.
That being said, I don’t wish to be judgemental of anyone. I wish to be aware of things that may be of harm to me and my family and to guard and protect; but I will not shy away from opportunities to show God’s love. It’s not enough to say it or think it. We have to show it – even to our enemies….especially to our enemies. It’s easy to show forgiveness to our friends and loved ones. The Christian walk is not easy…
Hebrews 9:15 – 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
I’ve gone to church since I was nine… I’ve read just about every book recommended to me about God and the Church… I’ve listened to powerful testimony… And it wasn’t until about nine years ago that I was actually impacted by any of it. It was then, once God had stripped me of everything else, that I realized that it was for “me”. Since that time till this, I’ve struggled greatly with the ability to dissever the narcissistic mentality that was blocking my ability to understand that Christ simply wanted a personal relationship with me. I still struggle with why He die for me. It’s coming to me. Frankly, I’m not my biggest fan. Oh, I have tons of bravado with people; which is mostly a defense or self preservation, but I still don’t like “me”. I love what God has blessed me with, but I desire to be more like Him…more what He utlimatly designed me to be.
The Passion for Others
You see, it wasn’t until Christ found me face down and begging for Him, that He could do a work in me. That work is far from done, but it was the beginning and only the first of many stages. I’ve recently been undergoing the next stage of the metamorphosis, and that is the desire to love others more. When you’re not satisfied with yourself, when you don’t see the value in yourself that Christ sees; it’s difficult to not find fault with others. I’ve found some of the angriest and unforgiving people are those who are truly miserable, themselves. These people are hurting so badly on the inside, that they look for any reason to be better than someone else. I’ve been denouncing that tendency in myself. I’ve been crying out to God for months now to work with me in that area.
Forgiveness and Understanding
I’ve been blessed with a heart for people all my life – I know that sounds contradictory to what I just said – but follow this. I love a good story, I get upset at tragic outcomes, I sense hurts in others more than most – but I had denied the impulse to act or to show concern. I didn’t wish to seem soft, or weak, or whatever…. the list goes on. However, once my spirit had begin to develop and mature,I realized more and more that it was the fear of people that set me out. No offense – but I could care less what people say. “People” are mean, trivial, unforgiving, judgemental and deprived of passion. I know – it’s a tough reality, but its reality none-the-less. Romans 3:23 says: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That means everyone… My sin is no greater than yours and vice-versa, as Christ died to save the world – not just you and not just me.
Once I was able to see this spiritually, it makes me respond differently. I awoke this morning with this mantra that kept going on in my head. Each time that I found someone who had irritated me today or something that I would normally judge – I would follow that negative thought with “…and He gave His life for them, as He did for you”. Its hard to express in words how powerful that has been today. To think of every puncture, assault, bruising, whipping and pain that Christ endured was for “me” and for “you” is an overwhelming thought.
My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places, ~Isiah 32:18
In the past year I have been blessed in that I am just beginning to understand the pure value of time with just God and I. It’s been a large paradigm shift for me. In a world of constant communication and with my near addiction to social media; it’s difficult to remember to purposefully find quiet resting places. However, I’ve begun to find great strength in the time which I am working out, listening to worship music, driving to the office and yes, even getting ready for work.
There are a number of ways in which one can engage Christ in an effort to press into Him. For me, its listening to sermons from some contemporary pastors from podcasts, listening to worship music and above all – simply quite time with nothing else to do but listen.
The promise in Isiah 32:18 is a promise of spiritual rest and security in dwelling in Christ. So many Christians get confused about this issue, thinking that if their physical life isn’t peaceful than they must be in wrong standing with Christ. This simply isn’t the truth.
Life is difficult, we live in a fallen world that is full of challenges. Our belief system doesn’t somehow alleviate the stress of the world from us, but it gives us the knowledge that Christ is Sovereign and that in all things He is King!
We keep striving for peace and know that God is always with us and will always love us. There is great solace in knowing that He is always in control. I pray that we all put our hope and trust in Him and not in our own strength or that of other people. Resting in Him is the way to peace.