“I Just Don’t Get it…Why Lord?”

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

“Why did this person have to die?”

There are many questions that we sometimes ask; especially in times when we thought things should have been different.  We just don’t understand why things happen the way that they do in this life…that being said, we must look to the scripture for answers.

One of the best examples that we can find is the story of Job.  Job was a man who served God…he was a man that caught the devil’s attention and one that Satan wanted to cause to fall away.  Let me start by reminding you, if Satan is challenging your faith, you need to stay strong, you wouldn’t be on his radar if you were already living a life for him.

So why do bad things happen to God’s people?  Because Satan wants to try and make anything happen that will cause us to question our faith.  He took away Job’s family, his home, and all his belongings, but Job stayed strong through the testing and fire.  Are you staying strong in your trials today?  Scripture tells us in James 1:2-4:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

The testing that comes from Satan will produce a sturdy faith that will stand firm no matter what storm we face if we will keep our focus on God.  Job stood firm, chose to continue following God, and when he became weak and questioned God, we see that God answered him, reminding him of who He (God) is and when all was said and done, Job was doubly blessed by the trial he faced.

Remember:

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:26-28

God will help you through, don’t let these trials tear you down, but let them become a blessing; both for you and for someone else.

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The Hope That We Have

One thing that has been on my mind a lot lately is dealing with the loss of a loved one. This is likely one of the most difficult times a person can face in life and is surrounded by doubt and uncertainty.

There is a hope for those of us who know Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. This hope is found in knowing that Christ died for our sins. It comes in our acceptance of what God intends for our lives can help us to reach this assurance today.

For those who pass on without knowing Christ there is no hope, their end is written and is not favorable. But we can rest in full assurance of the faith knowing that He holds our lives in his hands.

Colossians 2 holds that promise for us : “For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ. Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude. Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ. For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority. You were also circumcised in Him with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah. Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses. He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on ascetic practices and the worship of angels, claiming access to a visionary realm and inflated without cause by his unspiritual mind. (Colossians 2:5-14, 18 HCSB)”

But along with the hope that we find is also found in knowing the fate of those who have gone on before us. This hope is found In this passage:

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 HCSB)”

We will see them again if they died in Christ, but only if we follow their example by living for Christ. Today can be your day to make that decision. Eternity has two choices: Heaven or Hell, and that choice is solely yours.

Text Messages from God

Text messaging has become the staple of communication for many these days.  It has become a quick and easy way to communicate with those around us…and a quick and easy way to grow a personal relationship with others.  The world is all about speed these days, wanting to keep in touch with each other at all times, it has almost become an addiction for many in trying to keep up with each other.

Facebook, Twitter, Text Messaging, Snapchat and the list continues – each a way for people to keep up with others in the busyness of life, and keep tabs on what each other are doing.  We use our status messages on Facebook and Twitter to pass along prayer requests, inform others of what we’re doing or pass along little inspirational quotes or news quickly.  We use text messaging to quickly make plans when we can’t make a phone call, because – unless our ringer is turned up to top volume – we can do it without interrupting those around us…Instant communication has become the norm in our society.

Text Messaging can also be a way for many to say things to others that we aren’t able to say to them face-to-face, or a way to say something if you don’t want to see their reaction, because it is something that is hard to say.  It is also a way to avoid the seriousness of a conversation that we may not quite want to have with someone else…which could be for any reason, but in many cases because we don’t want to see their reaction (although in some cases that is why people say things to others).

Lets look at three things that we learn from Text Messaging about life…

1 – Communication

2 – Immediacy

3 – Impersonal aspect

First, Text messaging is used for communication: Text has become a constant communication factor in many of our lives.  Whether trying to learn something about someone or a situation, we can also use it to get to know someone – to find out the details about them and learn more about them.  The fact about text messaging is that it has become a way for many people to continually keep in conversation over a day via short messages.  Many people use it to keep up with their kids, with family members, or to keep a conversation up with each other…whatever the case, text is used for communication.

Second is the Immediacy of Text Messaging: We can usually rely on text messaging to be a quick way of delivering a message to others.  If we have to cancel plans, the first thing many of us do is pull out our phone and send a text.  If we can’t talk on the phone because of work, or because of the type of event we are at…we just pull our cell phone out and send a quick text message to talk to someone.  With text messaging we have become a society who is in constant contact with each other.

Third, Text Messaging can be impersonal: While the other two aren’t necessarily bad, this one can be depending on how it is used.  Text can be a good way for everyone to keep in contact, and it can be a way to get to know someone personally.  It is also a way to have an impromptu meeting with someone when you can’t meet face-to-face…But this can also be used in a bad way.  The fact that you don’t have to see someone face-to-face can be used to say things that we’ve always wanted to say to others, without seeing them in person.

There are many who will use that to their advantage by taking the opportunity to break off a relationship, to say something harsh, even bless someone out…simply because you don’t have to see their reaction.  You can say something to another person…and leave it there…for them to deal with, because you have finished (or have you).

I want to take these three principles and apply them to the longest and greatest text message that was ever sent…that message, The Bible.  The Apostles were unable to meet with everyone face-to-face…so they wrote letters.  The Prophets were unable to tell their story to everyone…so they wrote it down.  But most importantly, The Bible has become God’s personal text message to each of his children…

Communication:

God uses His word to converse with us on a daily basis.  The answers to all of life’s questions can be found within the cover of the Holy Bible.  God uses the words of His Apostles to share with His children the story of His Son.  The Bible is our text message from God, if we have a question, we can ask, and He speaks to us through text, The Text.

We weren’t able to see the Apostles or Prophets, or even Jesus face-to-face, but because of the Scripture we can see the message and get the answer we are looking for to all of life’s situations…There is not single thing we may face in this life that hasn’t already been faced in life…the fact is that almost every situation we could ever face is covered by scripture.

Immediacy:

If you have a Bible, it’s always there when you need it.  As Christians we should always carry it with us.  Peter addresses this in his first epistle…

”But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”

— 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

Peter is saying to “always be prepared to give an answer” to those who ask us about our hope…If we don’t have the complete answer to our hope, the scripture does.  Not only should it always be with us, it’s always right on target with the answers to our questions…and most of the answers are quick and easy finds if you use online helps or reference books.  Most of the Bibles that we can get today have a dictionary and concordance in the back for reference…which in most cases can serve as a topical reference.

Impersonal:

Scripture is only impersonal in the fact that the writers of the Bible do not have to be in the same room as us, because they have written it down.  We do not have to see them face-to-face to get their advice on something.  But Scripture is personal because it is given to us by God, our Father, to give us the answers to life’s everyday problems.  A good way of looking at the Bible is this – B.I.B.L.E. – Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.  The Bible is our Owner’s Manual…our text message from God…our constant communication with our Father.

Paul reminds Timothy of something that is still true for each of us today…

16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

— 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

God sent us a text message many years ago…while we’re thinking about it, He also sent a picture message in the image of His Son…and he asks us to be a Snapchat/Instagram story for him everyday in all that we do.  We are created in His image (Genesis 1:26)…created to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29)…we are His picture message to the world…what does your message say?

The One Who Didn’t

Being the father you need to be…

Looking at Scripture we see stories of fathers throughout the pages…stories of men, Men of God who maybe didn’t take the time to fully understand the example they were to set for their children…Three men stick out when you look at these stories – Eli, Samuel and David.  These three men were men of God…men who lived their lives seeking the heart of a God who created them…men who seemed to have it all together.

Look at Eli – a man who ministered to Samuel during his life…a man who sought to find favor with God…but a man who did not discipline his children in the ways that he should have.

12 Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD.”

— 1 Samuel 2:12 (NIV)

If we read on in the text we see that Eli knew of his sons’ wicked ways, but we see that he did nothing to correct them.  Eli was a man of God who did not know how to handle his own children in their times of trouble.  Eli knew of the sin in their lives, but took no steps to correct them in the error of their ways.

God saw this and was displeased with the way that Eli handled his personal life.  We see in the next chapter that God tells Samuel why he had spoken words to Eli about the wickedness of his children.

“13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them.”

— 1 Samuel 3:13 (NIV)

God had laid the law, and God enforced the law…Eli had failed as a father, and God made him pay for his failure.  We see that Eli didn’t provide discipline to his children in the time of need.  We also see the writer of Proverbs discuss this as well – Eli failed to be firm with his children.

15 The rod of correction imparts wisdom,
but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.

16 When the wicked thrive, so does sin,
but the righteous will see their downfall.

17 Discipline your son, and he will give you peace;
he will bring delight to your soul.”

— Proverbs 29:15-17 (NIV)

Failure to supply proper discipline and a failure to be firm can cause disappointment with the One that a father may be trying to please.  God warns Eli of the importance of setting the example at home, as well as when ministering to others…a warning that Eli didn’t heed.

So, with Samuel training under Eli, you would think that Samuel would have gotten the point…that Samuel would have learned from his mentor’s mistakes…

So…enter Samuel…a man who trained under Eli, and seemingly would have learned from the failures of Eli.  Samuel was a man who stood upright in the sight of God…a traveling preacher…a man with a purpose of sharing the kingdom of God with others.  A judge over Israel his entire life, Samuel was an enforcer of the law.

15 Samuel continued as judge over Israel all the days of his life. 16 From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places. 17 But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also judged Israel. And he built an altar there to the LORD.”

— 1 Samuel 7:15-17 (NIV)

He made a trip around the area every year…returning home once or twice during the year, and even building an altar to God there.  Samuel was a man who seemed to do what was right when it came to living a life for God…but we see in this passage that it also seemed that Samuel had no time for family.  Samuel was a judge who traveled…a man who was wrapped up in his work, and didn’t have time to spend with his children…who in turn struggled with their walks as a result.

In the next chapter we see this come to fruition:

1 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.”

— 1 Samuel 8:1-3 (NIV)

Samuel was an upright man…who put himself out there for the nation of Israel to see.  He lived a life that exemplified God to the world…but his lack of family time caused a rift in the family he had been entrusted to raise…therefore, we see that his sons were unable to keep from perverting justice in a land that was unholy.  Samuel appointed his sons as Judges but because they did not know the example they should set, because they had not seen it…they were unable to be pure and holy as their father was…accepting bribes and causing turmoil to increase.

Samuel let his children down in the same ways that Eli did…the difference…Eli knew what his children were doing and Samuel didn’t – because Samuel wasn’t home, he didn’t know the life that his children had chosen…he didn’t know that they were unjust…because his work had pulled him away from his family.

The third that we see is David…a man after God’s own heart.  Certainly he could not fail as a father…or could he?  David had it all…King of Israel, children whom he loved, and a God who was on his side…what more could he want?  David looked across to a rooftop of a good friend…and saw his friend’s wife…and David had to have the forbidden fruit.  David’s fall was similar to that of Adam and Eve…David knew what was right, but he had to taste.  Not only did he taste…he bit, and then had the entire bowl of fruit.  David fell in love with a married woman, enough so that he made arrangements to have her husband put to the front lines in a battle in which he knew the man would die.  David slipped…and because of the fall of David…cursed his children.

David loved his son Absalom…he, like any father, did not want anything bad to happen to his child…but David had brought a curse from God on his house when his example faltered.  Absalom was killed in battle…he was hung in a tree by his hair…making him fair game for the opposing army…an army that took advantage of David’s misfortune.  How did this realization that his failure as a father had affected his son hit David?

“33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!””

— 2 Samuel 18:33 (NIV)

David realized his folly…and David mourned the death of a child…a child that he knew did not have to die, but knew he had been a party to the death.  David lost his son the way that he lost his friend – in battle.  It hurt him enough for him to have wished that it was his life that had been taken…David was torn.  David’s example, like our own, was his downfall…he was a man after God’s own heart…but a man who gave in to temptation.

So three lessons from three Godly men for every father who has ever lived…

In Eli we see that true fatherhood demands loving discipline…a father must show their child the love of discipline.  When the child does something that is wrong…it is the father’s responsibility to punish the child accordingly to teach them it is something that they should never repeat…discipline, when done in the proper way can head off wickedness before it has a chance to settle in.

In Samuel we see that our children need our time and attention…how can a father expect his child to know the difference of right and wrong if he is never there to show them.  Samuel wrapped himself up in his work…never making time to spend with his family…and his price was a family who disregarded the morals that their father stood for – morals that they didn’t know, because their father wasn’t there to teach them.  Fathers, don’t disregard your family because you feel that you have to work your life away, it’s up to you to show your children the morals that should be practiced in life; if you’re not at home to teach them…they will never learn.

And finally, in David we see that a father’s example is the strongest influence on a child.  Children learn by example, and if your example to your children is one of immoral choices and continuous failure to do what is right…how can you expect your child to be anything but corrupt?  If a child is to learn what is morally right, they must also have the example in everything they see from their father.

Not all is bad, however, when we look at the example of the Father who gave us all life – we see a love that surpasses all evil.  The example that is set for us in the love of God is an example that every father can apply to his life when it comes to his children.  God has never and will never fail His children.  God has always provided for His children in a way that at times seems inconceivable.  God’s love is unconditional…no matter what a child of God does…He is always there to forgive and forget.  He doesn’t hold anything against a child who realizes the error of their ways and repents.  God has always been there, is always there, and will always be there for His children…anytime they call, he answers.

Fathers, please take to heart the importance of your example to your children – show them the path which is right in the way that you live your life.  If you are faced with a moral decision…think of your child.  A father’s love is the one thing that can truly change the heart of a child…an unconditional love that forgives no matter how hard…forgets, no matter what the situation…and gives generously of his time and efforts to make sure that the child is well taken care of.

The charge is on you…be the dad that you have been called to be, by the Father that has given you the breaks and chances that you didn’t deserve.  One of the best ways that a father can serve God is to show God’s love to his children…don’t let this opportunity pass you by.  The greatest thing a father can give his child is a chance to know his Father in heaven…so what will your example be?  What will your child remember when they have their own children to raise?  What will be your legacy?

Mom

Here I sit…Ten years later……reflecting on the life and example that my mom lived out daily.

Do I know she’s in heaven?  You bet I do.

Why?  Because she was an example of what it means to be a faithful servant of God, no matter what the circumstance she was facing.

Life over the last three plus years hasn’t been the easiest…and I don’t expect things to get easier as the time goes by.  They say, “time heals all wounds,” but I’m not so sure that whoever said that had dealt with the loss of a parent.  It’s a hard thing to go through, and it is something that I would never wish upon anyone — especially when they’re so young; I mean, mom was only 55 years old.

That being said, I want to reflect on a few things that I have learned over the past three years about my mother’s impact on my life:

1) What it means to be a faithful servant of God.
My mom taught me a lot of things throughout my life.  She taught me how to open doors for women – she always waited for me to open the door for her – did it bother me? a little; am I a better person? yes, because in that small lesson she taught me, she showed me the love that Jesus had for each one of us…by opening the door of heaven so that we could enter in.
She showed me how to serve a living God.  Dad is a minister, and I’ve learned alot from him…many who know me would tell you that I’m alot like him.  That being said…I’m alot like her too!  She showed me how to serve in a way that was all out…100%…no-holds-barred for my Savior.  She studied the scripture constantly; always seeking to apply anything she’d learned to her life, so that anyone who met her would see that He was first in her life.

2) The meaning of the word Unconditional.
She taught me how to love unconditionally; she showed love to many, no matter what they had done to her.  The best example of this is when I came home with my first tattoo…she didn’t like it, she made that known (you see, mom wasn’t shy about telling you how she felt)..I walked into her room and showed her – she cried (making me feel about as small as Lincoln on the penny – and by that I mean the little Lincoln that is on the back of the penny seated in the Lincoln Memorial); but she loved me anyway…even though at that moment she didn’t really like me.
I imagine that love is alot like the love that God showed each one of us that day on Calvary…when He sent his ONLY SON to die on our tree…in our place…for OUR sins…and not just one or two sins, no EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM!  Mom had that kind of love for anyone she ever came across…she loved unconditionally.

3) The necessity of following Christ.
Mom taught me how to apply the teachings of Christ to my life…she knew the meaning of Mark 8:34b-35, “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s sake will save it.”  She understood what taking up your cross daily meant.  She understood what losing your life for the sake of Christ meant.  She understood that denying herself would glorify Christ…and that was her goal.  Mom wasn’t about the lime-light, she didn’t seek the attention…no…mom would much rather sit in a room, away from everything, and keep herself out of the spotlight…just so that the name of Jesus would be visible and glorified…Mom got it!

4) Perseverance.
Mom was a fighter…she didn’t want the end to come…and I fully believe it wasn’t because she wasn’t ready to go…it was because she didn’t want to leave her family.  It goes back to the unconditional love…she was willing to live, so that she could be here to take care of her family.  She also knew the reward that was waiting on the other side…and when all was said and done…she chose to spend the rest of her days with the Maker Himself.  I’m sure they have a lot to talk about…my mother was a homemaker…that’s what she did for a living…she probably wanted to get there to talk to the greatest Homemaker of all…you know, catch up on all she might have missed (which I’m certain wasn’t much, she was a perfectionist).

and…

5) Who Christ is.
Plain and simple…the greatest lesson my mother ever taught me…who Jesus Christ is.  Not was, but IS!  My mom’s greatest lesson to me in life was that we serve a RISEN, LIVING SAVIOR!  So many other religions of the world serve a ‘savior’ figure, but they also have a grave to visit, because their ‘savior’ couldn’t defeat the bondage of death.  Mom knew that Jesus raised from the dead…that the grave had no bearing on Him, and death could not defeat Him.  Mom taught me the meaning of Christ’s resurrection…that he defeated the bonds of sin and death, allowing each one of His beloved children the opportunity to share in the eternal glory which is reserved for all who daily carry their cross and follow Christ.

Mom showed me that God is real…He is here…He was there…and He’ll be there in the end.  The greatest lesson that I ever learned from my mom is this…Words don’t tell a person’s story – a person is not defined by the words that he/she says…no, my mother showed me that the life of a faithful servant speaks for itself.  She didn’t have to preach the gospel to me…that is because she lived it…100%, all out commitment to the Savior of the world!

Thanks Mom!  Happy Mother’s Day!  I know you’re looking down on me, and I hope that my life speaks volumes for the example you set…I hope I make you proud, but most of all (I know you’d want it this way) I hope that my life is a reflection of the King of Glory Himself…

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” — Mark 8:36

It’s Personal

“This time it’s personal.”

How many of us have used this phrase or heard this phrase used to describe our feelings toward someone when we feel we’ve been wronged?  Think with me for a minute about what that statement means.  When we say, “it’s personal,” what we are really saying is this time its gone too far…this time it means more because it effected me in a personal way…that it hit too close to home.  When we take it personally, we are deeply hurt…deeply moved…the reaction is deeply rooted in our emotions.

This emotional reaction is something that can move us to tears…a reaction that can cause us to harbor deep anger toward someone or something.  If we let things cause a deep, emotional response in us…the feelings that we experience come from a deep belief in whatever causes the pain.  It means that we have felt a deep connection to whatever has caused us to experience the pain.

That deep emotional connection can also be applied in a good way to our lives as Christians…our relationship with Christ should be taken personal…because to Him, it is personal.

What do I mean by taking it personal?  Think about it for a minute…let it soak in…Jesus is the one who describes it for us in John 21:20-23.  The story prior to this is the story of Peter’s reinstatement where Jesus asks him, “Do you love me?” and Peter answers in the same way that many of us would answer, “Yes Lord, you know that I do!”  But what happens next shows us the personal aspect that is expected of each one of us in our own lives.

As we move forward in the passage we see that Peter reacts in a way that many of us would…he tells Jesus he loves him…and then he points a finger and says, “What about him Lord?”

“What about him Lord?” – Why do we feel that we have to worry about someone else when it comes to our faith?  The only answer that I can come up with for this is rooted deep within each one of us…it is a fear of being alone.  We have never liked to go through something by ourselves…never liked to feel like we were being singled out…so our reaction is one of redirection.  We like to redirect the attack we are feeling by asking, “What about so-and-so? What about this or that?”

Jesus response to Peter was simply put: “What is it to you?!?  So what if I want this guy to live until I return!  Why does it matter during this conversation Peter?  Why do you not seem to grasp this?  YOU, Peter, you are to follow me!”

Why would Jesus respond in this way if it weren’t personal?  Jesus would not have made sure Peter understood that it had nothing to do with anyone else if it wasn’t personal.  Jesus essentially said to Peter, “Peter…this time it’s personal!”

Paul understood this factor of taking it personal in his life.  We see Paul understands that it is personal in Philippians 3:1-14.  Paul is writing to the believers and telling them that it is personal.  He speaks about taking pride in worldly accomplishments and bragging about the things that they have in their lives…

“Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reasons for such confidence.  If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.”

— Philippians 3:2-6 (NIV)

Paul is basically saying, “You wanna brag?  I’ll show you who can brag…look at what I’ve done.”  Paul tells the people what he has to brag about, but then Paul explains why it was important for him to brag…was it because Paul was prideful?  Did Paul feel that he needed to make himself known to these people?  Neither.

Paul felt it necessary to show them what he had to brag about because of the next statement he was about to make.  Paul wanted them to see exactly what a relationship with Christ was all about…Paul wanted to show them how personally he took his relationship with Christ.

The next statement shared by Paul was simply this…

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

— Philippians 3:7-14 (NIV)

“Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” What is Paul saying?  Every good thing that I have ever had…everything I have earned in this world…every single profit that I have ever made…everything I could have ever bragged about in my life…it means NOTHING to me compared to knowing Jesus.  He calls all of his worldly accomplishments garbage…something to be thrown away if it means gaining Christ as his Lord…but not only that…that he would be found IN Christ.

Paul tells us that our righteousness comes from a personal relationship with the King of Kings…Paul tells the Romans that we are all created in the image of Christ and are to become like him…and then, in this section, Paul takes it up a step…”I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain the resurrection from the dead.” Paul says he wants to know Christ…but then Paul continues in stating that he wants to know the fellowship of sharing in Christ’s sufferings…did he miss that section of the Gospels?  Does Paul realize exactly what he is saying here?  Does Paul really want to be flogged, beaten down…have his skin ripped from his body…have a crown of thorns forced on his head?  Is that what Paul is saying here?  Does he not realize what Christ’s sufferings were?  You bet he did…and here is why he wanted to know…because it was the only way to truly know how deep the love of Christ for each of us really is.  By becoming like Christ in his death, Paul knew he would see the love that his Savior had for him…a love that could end in death on a cross.

Paul knew it was a personal relationship with a Savior who promises to be closer than a brother…the same Savior we call Father in our prayers…the same Savior who called us family when he said, “For whoever does the will of my Father is my brother, my sister and my mother” (Matthew 12:50).  The same Savior that died on a cross to save the lost is the same Savior that Paul worshipped and the same Savior that we worship today!  He is also the same Savior that wants each of us to know him personally…he wants us to know him intimately.  It is no accident that the church is called the Bride of Christ…because that is the kind of love and relationship that Christ wants with the church.  In the same way that you wouldn’t marry someone without getting to know them, Christ wants us to get to know him…to become the bride that he can communicate with…a bride that wants to know him…a bride that would give her life for her True Love in the same way that he gave his…

Christ felt that his bride was worthy of following through on a plan of destruction for his life…a plan that was set forth from the beginning of time…a plan of salvation and redemption…a plan to save the world.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

— John 3:16-17 (NIV)

Do you know him?  Or do you just know about Him?  Have you taken the time to learn who Christ is?  Or have you become comfortable in just knowing about the things that He did?  Jesus gave up everything to save His true love…and this time…It’s Personal.

“Ducking” the Issue

Ok, so I have seen just about enough hatred on the issue with Duck Dynasty Patriarch Phil Robertson.  I think it is about time that we take a Christian stand on the issue, which ultimately, if you actually have taken the time to read the article, was the message that Phil was trying to share.

2 Timothy 4:1-8 lays it down for us, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”

I feel that we as Christians do not need to become the problem.  Phil was doing what this scripture commands us to do, “Preach the Word”.  He presented an honest answer to a question that was asked of him, giving his interpretation of a scripture that he felt was relevant to the question asked of him, “What, in your mind, is sinful?”  I think we should all take a moment to answer this question for ourselves.

We as Christians are called to do two things: love God and love people.  I think if you have taken the time to read this article you will see this played out in the words that Phil Robertson was ultimately trying to share. “We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television,” he tells me. “You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”

I think what we need to do right now is this:  As Christians, REAL Christians, we need to stand up for God…look at what he said, Love each other and Love God!  We do need to repent for the ways that we have handled things, including this situation.  How are we supposed to save the lost when all we do is condemn them to hell?  How are we supposed to show them the love of God when all we are doing is focusing on the huge “problem” we seem to have with them.  For years I have heard, “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” and I feel that we must apply that in the best way we possibly can today.

You may not agree with the way someone lives their life, but the way to approach it is not to attack and condemn, it is to love and forgive, and ultimately show the love of Christ to the world; in the hope that the example you are setting will allow someone to see Christ in you!

I ask each of you today to pray for this family, but also to pray for the executives who have had to, in their mind, make a difficult decision.  We must today take a stand…not for Phil Robertson (because I’m pretty sure, based on his own words, that is not what he would want) but for God as His children.  We should take a stand for Christ and show His love for the lost to each one.

John 3:16-17 will show you what God feels for each one of us…”For God so loved the world that he gave is only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him, will not perish, but will have eternal life.  For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”

He didn’t send Christ to condemn, so what right do we have to do so?  He came to save, and love is how Christ came to save the world.  He loves us, gave his life on a cross, and rose from the grave to defeat death so that we would have the chance to share his love with others.  Please, take a stand for God, but do it in a loving way that shows others the true meaning of why Jesus came…stop with the hateful messages and images, that is not what Jesus would want done.