Who do You Want ME to Be? Becoming a Prisoner for God…

Who do You want ME to be?  A question we should all ask God everyday…

“ 1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

— Ephesians 4:1-3 (NIV)

Paul wrote these words from prison, so if anyone knew what being a prisoner was all about, Paul would definitely be the guy.  “As a prisoner for the Lord…” began Paul…what did he mean?  What does it mean to be a prisoner for the Lord?  What is Paul getting at when he begins this paragraph?

Lets look at it for a minute…Paul, a man who knew what it was to persecute the church, who had put people in prison for claiming the name of Christ; was now, himself, suffering the same fate as many he had put away…imprisoned for the carrying the name of Christ.  But as he accepted this, he wrote to the church at Ephesus, “then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” What is that call?

Paul had written before that the call on a Christian’s life was one of mimicking the life of Christ (Romans 8:28-30).

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

— Romans 8:28-30 (NIV)

By looking back to Psalm 139 where we see David claim to be fearfully and wonderfully made, and also note, ”You knit me together in my mother’s womb…”; we realize that God knew each one of us before the world knew us, therefore we are all part of the group of the known, we are ALL predestined to be conformed to the likeness of Christ, and therefore called.  What is the likeness of Christ?

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”

— Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV)

Jesus took the role of a servant…the same role we are called to, service.

Paul was explaining that we should all live a life worthy of the call, a life that would cause others to take notice of a difference…a life that is similar to that of Christ Jesus himself.  Paul then goes on to tell four ways that life can be achieved:  Humility, Gentleness, Patience and Bearing one another’s burdens.

Paul states that we should be humble, not proud…the life of a servant is one of humility.  To serve others, they must come first in our life…not second to us.  If we consider ourselves to be better than another, we will never serve them, because we don’t feel they are worthy of that…but Christ humbled himself to wash the apostles feet…shouldn’t we practice that same humility when it comes to others?  Shouldn’t we lower ourselves to the level where we can be most effective in touching someone’s life?  Humility is putting yourself last.

Along with this humility we are to have is Gentleness.  What Paul is stating is that we much approach each other with a gentle spirit…do not look for a fight, look to stop the war; don’t go into a conversation expecting confrontation…go in expecting reconciliation, expecting peace.  Be kind, practicing the golden rule – do unto others. Serve others, give without expecting in return, be kind, be gentle, be Jesus to the world.

Third, we are to be patient…which is one of the hardest things for a person to do, especially when they feel they have been wronged.  People have trouble with patience, because being patient means looking past faults…looking past disagreements…looking for the good in another, so that we don’t react in a way that is detrimental to our relationship with them…in a way that can ruin even the best of friendships.

And Last…bearing one another’s burdens.  When we band together as a group of Christians, no one can pull us down…no one can take the joy that comes in seeing someone we love come through a tough time in their life, only to enjoy the fruits of their sufferings.  Paul told the Ephesian Church that they needed to bear with each other, because no one can do it alone.

Paul then states that all four of these must be unified within the Christian so that the full work of the church can be completed.  You must find a way to take these four principles and apply them as a unified group to your life…it’s the only way a prisoner for the Lord can survive.

Not only do we need to unify these principles, but we also need to unify as a body of Christ…we are all called to the same purpose…we are all called to be Christ to the world.  Too many times these days the Church is only out for what they can do for themselves…the members are loyal, but their view of the church is the four walls they enter every Sunday morning…for us as Christians to change the world…we have to unify peacefully and work toward the same cause.

What are you doing today?  Are you loyal to the call on your life?  Are you willing to unify with the church as a whole in bringing the name of Christ to the world?  Or are you content sitting back and missing the blessings that will come your way when you choose to live in the way Paul did…in unity with his brothers and sisters in Christ.  Paul explains it in further detail over the next few verses…

4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

— Ephesians 4:4-6 (NIV)

Seven “one’s” to show us that it is all about becoming ONE in unity.  Become one with the Church today, become unified for the cause of Christ…become one prisoner who is devoted to joining with other prisoners to serve the ONE who thought we were worthy enough to die for us…ask God who He wants you to be.


What are We Standing For?

All this talk about standing for the anthem got me thinking about the circumstances surrounding it and what we truly need to be thinking about today…and I’m here to tell you….I’m not so sure that it’s the flag or whether we stand or sit that we should be paying attention to.

In fact, while I do believe that we should respect the country we are in as Jesus told those who asked about taxes, to “Rend Caesar what is Caesar’s”, but he also added that we should give to God what is His also.  That means we owe God our lives…we are His, created in His Image…we bear HIS likeness, just like the coin bore the likeness of Caesar.

However, here is what we are missing while this is going on around us…that division has always been around…we have always been told that, “if we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything.” While that may be true in some cases, I think that we are choosing to stand for the wrong things. Christians, why are we not standing for the WORD OF GOD? If we showed half the passion for the scripture that we have shown for the flag or for social issues this country would be a different place than it is.  If we stand for God’s Word, we will see love take precedence over hate…we would see unity rather than division…we would see things in a much happier and better light.

We have gotten so wrapped up in the idea of battle, that we have forgotten that Jesus has already fought and won the battle…but instead, we feel that we need to fight it…we feel we need to “guess” what Jesus would say today because, “Times are different…it’s just not the same today as it was then culturally.” We don’t need to guess anything….it is high time we realize this today: GOD’S WORD is the same yesterday, today, and forever….it is timeless…it is boundless…it is His bond to His people.

I challenge you to stop the hate…stop the bickering….stop the arguments…who cares if someone doesn’t agree with you…is it the Christlike attitude to attack personally or fight back in a way that destroys your witness? NO! It is our duty to be the example…why is the country in a battle today like we have never seen? Because the Church is fighting the same battles…don’t believe me? Which Version of the Bible to you use? Is there a fight about it? Are you in the midst of a church split because someone got upset with someone else?

I challenge each of us to look at the circumstances surrounding our lives…are you living in bitterness toward someone because they don’t share your opinion? Are you constantly upset because something didn’t go your way? It doesn’t matter what side of an issue you’re on, it is something that we have seen for decades in this country…we are broken…

Love like Jesus loved, who didn’t come to divide, but unite…through love. The greatest division ever recorded on earth was caused by sin, but Jesus came to unite us back to God through his blood…so let’s let the blood of Jesus continue to work today! Show love to one another today and stop with the hateful speech and bickering that only feeds division…because we are dividing the church and pushing people away from Jesus rather than winning them to Him…What are you standing for?

Who or What are you Voting for?

I have heard this question many times over the past couple of weeks, whether in the form of a question, or in the actual answers that some are giving, and it has broken my heart to see some of the things that are being said…Please continue reading before you write me off on this article.

First things first, I encourage everyone to vote. You do have a voice…do not let it be stifled because you feel that your vote will not count. One penny doesn’t equal a lot of money, but when a number of pennies are put together it can grow into a great amount of money…Second, I can think of no better way to state it than I already have in a Facebook post from earlier in the week:

“We are acting no better than the two candidates digging up and bickering about the past that had already happened and worrying about a future that has yet to happen. We have this moment that we can do something about….THIS MOMENT ALONE…and after this moment is gone we have another. At this point I am praying and even more undecided about who I should vote for based on all the talk and am earnestly praying about who to vote for…and I would urge each of you to put down your phones and push away your keyboards and do the same.

Vote with your conscience! Not with the media…not with your friends…vote for yourself and stop all the arguing. We are the UNITED STATES of America, yet right now we seem like the UNTIED States. Show our unity and not our division. We have allowed the media and politics to completely divide and dictate how we feel and how we act. They tell us that there is a problem, but the problem is the lies that are being passed off as truths. Please pray that we will wake up and see what is happening and pray for guidance in this election season. Stop buying into the lies that you have to vote for this or for that…and don’t buy the farce that a vote for a third party is a vote against a major candidate.

Do we even realize that people have lost homes and lives because of flooding? Or is all we care about these two egotistical candidates who are acting like preschool children and playing a game of “I know you are but what am I?”

God, have mercy on us! Pray for unity and pray for revival!!”

You DO have a voice! Let it be heard in November….let HIM be heard in November!



This has been one of the harder writings I’ve ever done because a million things have been running through my mind, but also just the concern that the message will not be welcomed by some.  That being said, I also feel it has to be addressed…

We see a new trend in America to talk about what lives matter, the struggle I’m having is that what I see happening is the furthering of a division that we do not need.  I liken it to the body of the Church…in order for us to be most effective in reaching the world, we must be unified…and in order for our country to continue to be what it once was, we must be unified.

#BlackLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter, and #AllLivesMatter have flooded our Facebook Newsfeed, we have been bombarded on the news by the constant reminder that there is a division between groups of people; and honestly it seems to be what keeps these groups divided.  I have prayed and studied about this over the past week or so trying to figure out what the message we need to embrace is…and it has left me here…that we need to drop the bickering and fighting and each accept some sense of ownership in what is taking place.

We are all God’s children, we have been offered a gift through His blood that is greater than any gift we could imagine, and we fight because we feel that we are more deserving of it than others? It is not for us to qualify who is worthy of this gift, in fact, scripture tells us that Christ died once for all…and there is no qualifying factor in that statement…All means all.

I have heard all the arguments and discussions over what the BLM group is trying to say, and believe me I understand what they are fighting for.  I have heard the reasons folks want to say All Lives Matter, and honestly, I realize what is happening there too…but what it is doing is dividing us even more when right now what we need is unity.

So, I challenge you…be the example.  Take ownership in a different kind of movement…don’t say This life matters or that life matters…say Our Lives Matter.  Before you dismiss me, please hear me out, I’m not saying that bringing awareness to discrimination is wrong, but by owning it and saying “OUR” we will be saying that yes my life matters, but yours also matters and we are together in this fight to bring justice.

If we can own it and realize we are fighting many of the same battles it might be the first steps in bringing peace that is much needed in this time of turmoil.  Please consider this as you think about the issues we are facing today…please stop promoting the division, and become part of the solution.  Each of us are different, but Christ died for ALL.  His life mattered, and through His blood we can say that Our Lives Matter.

“For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12 (HCSB)

Did you hear?

Some of the most damaging words in the world are “Did you hear…” because you often know that what follows is going to be gossip, at least in many circles, and unfortunately it has become the normal way of life in our country. The thing about gossip is that it damages more than just the person it is said about and more than just the person spreading it; Gossip is damaging to families, communities, and as we are seeing, entire countries.

Let me explain it this way: There is a reason we are instructed in Ephesians 4:29 to “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” We are to watch what we say, and unfortunately the Church is not exempt from this epidemic. James put it this way in verse 1:26, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

Gossip is damaging to the Church, it can tear God’s people apart at the core, and many people tend to go out and share their findings within the community with these words, “Did you hear” about this person or that person or this problem or that problem. Paul said it this way to the Philippian Church, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (4:8).”

Where it is most evident in our country today is within the political realm. We hear candidates who are out to spread vicious lies and rumors to try and gain an upper hand in the race they are in…why? This is why I would encourage you to pray about God’s guidance in who you should vote for.

We should not join in gossip; we should not spread anything malicious about anyone, even if we heard it from his or her lips. Our lives are not to see how many people we can destroy with our words about them in settings where they do not belong…and our jobs as Christians is to build up and glorify the Name of Jesus…We are to be examples of who Christ is…not examples of why He had to come and give His life to offer salvation.

Today I challenge you as Paul did Timothy, “But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness (2 Tim. 2:16).” Do not join in, rise above…do not lead others into ungodliness, lead them to God.

These Things We Do…

As I write this I reflect on the week that I have just come off of…a week of serving, a week of love, a week that I honestly did not want to end. I had the honor of being able to join a group from Heaton Christian Church on a Mission Trip to New York City to work with the New York City Relief Bus. I wasn’t sure what to expect heading in, but I knew that God had opened the door for me to be able to experience Him on a different level, and I was definitely not disappointed.

The one thing that I took away from the week more than any other is a couple of things that I experienced that were unexpected. First, the battle cry, “These things we do, that others may live!” These eight words struck a chord in me that has echoed through my mind for days…words of truth that I realized was much more than just words being spoken out of habit. Every encounter that we have here on earth can be a spiritual battle, and this opened my eyes that the things that we do in life need to be done so that others may live.

It may not be that we want them to live in the physical sense all of the time; yes, when it came to the relief bus we were working with folks who had next to nothing. We were giving them food and necessities that many of us take for granted. But on a deeper level was the love with which it was given, a love that included a message…a message that God loves you, no matter what you have done, no matter what your circumstance, no matter where you are in your life; God sees and meets you where you are! A message that says, “I want you to have an abundant life in Christ.” This is something we all need to see and experience in life.

Second, was a statue. A statue of Jesus, seated with nail-scarred hand out reached, sitting under a sign that had Matthew 25:40, “What you did for the least of these you did for me.” It really struck me in a way that I can’t explain, but left me wishing I had even more time to spend talking and sharing with those who I encountered during the night. It was humbling to see the reaction to a simple gesture that we take for granted. Seeing someone cry because they have not felt loved for weeks or months, but just simply sitting down and listening to them and loving on them the way that Christ would opens a door to share the true Gospel message…a message of love, because God is love!

I can’t even begin to explain how NYC has changed me in how I view others…we could all be in that situation, hurting, needing to be loved on. We cannot just walk by someone who is hurting, Jesus didn’t, he met them where they are and shared love with them. Love isn’t always a word you say, it isn’t in the things you can buy, it is a natural thing that happens when you allow yourself to open up to what God is trying to do through you. He is love! He wants us to show Him to others through His love; He wants us to love others the way He loves them – He wants us to meet them where they are.

That doesn’t mean that you have to go to NYC, it might mean that you have a next door neighbor who is hurting and just needs a listening ear. It might be that someone has fallen on hard times and just needs to feel like someone cares…it may be that someone needs to be loved on because they are feeling beaten down and just need to know that there is hope beyond the struggle they are dealing with…maybe they just need to meet Jesus and they will see it in you.

“Dear Friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God because God is love” 1 John 4:7-8 (HCSB)image1

They will Hate You!

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.” – John 15:18-24 (ESV)

These are the words of Jesus to the disciples as he begins to finish out his earthly ministry and continues to prepare the disciples for the ministry that they would undertake after his departure.

These words can be very important and helpful to us in today’s culture that we are facing.  True followers of Christ, those who are daily undertaking the battle on the front lines can find comfort in these verses as we face the adversity that is around us.  There has always been persecution of Christians worldwide, but in America we have not necessarily seen it, but we may be in for a wakeup call in the coming days due to decisions that are being made.

This should excite us as Christians, but also put us on guard…in Jesus’ own words, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” Plain and simple, are we exempt from persecution? No, not at all! In fact, Jesus reveals here that part of his purpose was to come and set the example of what is right…he came so that we would not only hear, but SEE how to live.  He says to us, “If I had not come to show the way, they would not have been guilty of their sin, but now they have no excuse.”

Jesus tells us not to expect an easy walk, because the world will hate us, because the world hated him.  The world will not like what we stand for, how we carry ourselves, the message we bear…they will hate everything about us because of how it makes them feel…persecution comes from guilt, it comes from the guilt that is felt when someone knows what is right and sees it in someone…it makes them feel guilt for what they know is wrong and drives them to hatred.

Today, I want to encourage you with the words of Christ…to encourage you that we are not alone in this battle that we will face…one we are facing.  Jesus said that we will be hated because he was hated, and that hatred is of God because he was sent from God and we, in the Great Commission, were sent by him.  His comfort to us is this, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” (John 15:26, ESV)

The Holy Spirit will come to those who believe and accept…those who are not of the world…the world will not love you if you are not of the world…but the Helper comes so that you can boldly proclaim who you belong to…go out today and claim who you belong to!!