What Do You See When You See People?

Hate. Vitriol. Opposition. War.

These are the words that come to mind when I think about how the climate of our world has been these days.

I see it in politics. I see it on the news outlets. I even see it bleed over into sports. The saddest thing about this is when it infiltrates the church.

There is no place for hate for people from those that call themselves believers. Those that don’t consider themselves Christ-followers – the expectation is much lower. BUT that changes when we come to Christ.

We have to be better. We can’t live in hate. Our mission demands more. Jesus modeled better. The Word teaches us differently.

When everything is so volatile, how in the world do we navigate with love? How do we keep the mission at the forefront of our mind and attitude?

REMEMBER PEOPLE ARE NOT THE ENEMY. Paul reminded the Ephesians of this in

Ephesians 6:12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

If you back up a verse (follow the link above) and you will see that Paul is warning us against the tactics of the Devil. That is the battle we are fighting. Satan wants to get us focusing on the horizontal and assigning hate towards others, when in reality, in his subtle ways, he is using those people and situations in front of us to keep us from seeing the truth of the matter.

REMEMBER THAT PEOPLE ARE IMAGE BEARERS OF GOD. Every single person that has ever walked the face of this earth was made in the image of God. Genesis reminds us that God made male and female in His image. (Genesis 1:27) So no matter who you are looking at – no matter who angers you – remember that they are made in the image of God. They bear His image and He desires something for each of them.

REMEMBER THAT GOD WANTS ALL TO KNOW HIM. Not everyone realizes yet the reason they were created. They don’t know Jesus personally. But God loved them so much that He sent His Son to die for them so they might have eternal life! Peter writes…

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.

REMEMBER WE ARE THE WAY THEY WILL KNOW HIM. Now this is what could be a long and involved point, but let me just say it in a couple of ways. We must show and reflect God’s love because we have been changed by His love. We know what it means to be forgiven. We know what it means to have abundant life. We know that the love of God changes everything.

So instead of trying to change people – love people. Let His love change them. Instead of hating them. Love them the way He loves them. You don’t have to agree with them. You don’t have to love how they are or even how they treat you. But remember our Jesus when He was on the cross actually praying for those who had put Him there. That is what we are striving for.

That is the love that will truly change the world. Not to mention that OUR LOVE FOR EACH OTHER AS BELIEVERS will help others see Jesus. So the church is no place for us to hate. There is simply no room.

Living on purpose will require us to see people the way Jesus saw people. The way God sees His creations.

So love hard. Love well.

Live on Purpose.

Get Back At It!

You ever feel like your walk with Christ is 2 steps forward and 3 steps back? That the road is way harder than it should be? Take heart. You are not alone. I would venture to say that most of us who are on this journey – who are followers of Christ – are on the same unsteady road.

Today, I just want to encourage you. Keep at it. Keep growing. Don’t get frustrated. I know that is easier said than done, but you are not alone.

There are a couple of things that might make this easier or least more encouraging that I would like to challenge you with.

REMEMBER YOUR SALVATION. The enemy will do his best to try to get you to doubt the moment you were saved by grace. Don’t let him win. Remember the power of grace in that moment that sought you out and gave you the very thing you didn’t deserve. Righteousness of Christ. Forgiveness. Eternal life. Access to the Father. That moment when God declared you to be righteousness because of grace is called JUSTIFICATION.

2 Corinthians 5:21 He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

You now have the POSITION of righteousness that can’t be taken away. You can’t do anything to earn it so you can’t do anything to lose it. God said it and that settles it.

REMEMBER THE POWER OF GRACE. That grace that saved you has the power to cover all the sin you did and all the sin you ever will do. Don’t discount that power. It is alive and active in your life. Your encounter with grace is not a one time event. It is a daily occurrence. Thank God.

John said in John 1:16 that “we have all received grace after grace from His (Christ) fullness.”

After we have received this positional standing in Christ by grace, God then begins the work of transforming our character into the character of Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit. It is not about keeping the Law. We are free from that. It is about becoming like Jesus. It is about making an impact for the kingdom. It is about living on purpose! This is behavioral righteousness that we call sanctification.

REMEMBER IT IS A PROCESS. Sanctification is a process. Salvation happens immediately. We are forgiven and made righteous. Sanctification, though, is the work of our entire life. We constantly struggle with it. And remember ANY process is hard.

Think about it like this…My wedding day was July 15, 1995. What a day it was. On that Saturday afternoon, Nichole and I said some words like “I do” and we spoke vows and at the end of the ceremony the preacher said, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” So I walked into that church a single man and left a husband. I was 100% a husband even though I really knew very little about being a husband. Now that was 25 and 1/2 years ago. I look a little more like a husband now than I did then. I learned some things quicker than others. Don’t mix colors and whites. Yikes. Other things, though, like being patient and less selfish are still an ongoing process. I have no doubt it will be lifelong to still learn and grow.

Your life as a follower of Christ very much mirrors this idea on a much grander scale. At salvation you were 100% made righteous. But since that moment – that day – you are on a journey to grow and learn and be more like Jesus.

So be on purpose. Be disciplined. Be active on the journey. Get in the Word. Attend a Bible-teaching church. Pray. Pursue the fruit of the Spirit. Disciple others. Share Christ.

BUT be patient with yourself. You will not be perfect. You will have days that you don’t or even don’t WANT to pursue. It is ok. Just keep grace in your mind and keep Jesus as your goal and get back at it.

Philippians 3:14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

Live on Purpose!

What You CAN Control

Are you a control freak like me? I like to have control. I like to be “in the know.” I like to “hold all the cards.”

Unfortunately, like I mentioned in my last blog, there are so many things that I can’t control. I can’t control exterior circumstances. So we trust God with the storms – with the things that happen TO us.

But what about those things that I CAN control? How does God play a role in those things?

Certainly God has placed things in YOUR hands to serve Him with, to make decisions about.

So does “Let Go…Let God” apply with these things?

There is a story that Jesus told that gives us some insight. It is found in Matthew 25.

14 “For it is just like a man going on a journey. He called his own slaves and turned over his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five talents; to another, two; and to another, one—to each according to his own ability. Then he went on a journey.Immediately 

REMEMBER WHO OWNS WHAT IS IN OUR HANDS. God certainly blesses us with things, situations, ideas, callings but when it comes down to it, we have to remember that we are NOT the owners, we are just the managers. So what ever we have – big, small, good or great is ours to deal with based on the fact that God blessed us with it!

16 the man who had received five talents went, put them to work, and earned five more. 17 In the same way the man with two earned two more. 18 But the man who had received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money.

REMEMBER TO BE FAITHFUL TO WHAT HAS BEEN GIVEN. If we remember we aren’t the owners then we will be more ready to invest what has been given. We are to be faithful to the blessing. We are to “work hard” and make smart decisions with what has been given to us. Whatever we have been given is so that we can bring glory to God with it. If we “bury” what has been given or even if we use it for ourselves, then we are wasting what was entrusted with us.

REMEMBER THAT GOD REWARDS RISK-TAKERS. God doesn’t give you what you have so that you can do NOTHING with it. He wants you to live by faith. He wants you to trust Him with what you can control so that He can multiply it and when that happens – when you have faith to take a risk – he will add even more to it. RISK COMES WITH POSSIBLE FAILURE BUT IT ALSO OFTEN BRINGS TREMENDOUS RETURN. If you never step out and risk something, then you are not being obedient. I am not talking about being reckless. I am talking about being faithful to what God has put in our hands.

So what is in your hands? Remember when Moses was called by God to lead the people of Israel out of slavery? What was his first response? I can’t because…Moses had forgotten what God had placed in his hands. Then God reminded him. Moses take the staff that is IN YOUR HANDS and throw it down (risk) and when He did the rod turned into a snake.

You see God can do miraculous things with the things we CAN CONTROL if we are faithful and obedient to Him with it all!

Live on Purpose!

What you CAN’T Control

(This post is late posting because of the unusual SNOW DAY in Louisiana :))

4 inches of snow in Louisiana!!

You ever feel like there are very few things in your life that you can actually control? I mean look around you. There are so many things going on in our world right now that you have absolutely NO control over.

You can’t control Covid. Pandemics are kind of funny that way. They are out of our control.

You can’t control the political landscape.

You can’t control the weather. (As I write this there is the possibility of snow in the South! Update: IT HAPPENED! See above!!)

You get the point. There are tons of things in your life that are completely out of your control. So quit wasting your time trying to control them! We are funny like that aren’t we? We are control freaks.

I have a good friend from California where I served as Pastor for 6 years that used to often remind anyone who would listen to, “Let GO and LET GOD.”

There is something to that advice especially in the situation of things you can’t control.

You see, God is not surprised by a global pandemic. God is not surprised by who is elected President of a nation. God is not taken off guard by wintry weather. God is not overwhelmed. God is not scared. God is not tired.

So in the situations that overwhelm you…Trust Him.

In the events that you don’t understand…Believe Him.

It reminds me of the storm that blew up on the disciples one time. Mark writes it like this in Mark 4:35-41

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Storms are certainly beyond our control and THEY WILL HAPPEN. So how do we react when they do?

REMEMBER THE PROMISES OF GOD! The disciples had the promise that they would make it to the other side. (v35). When God makes a promise nothing can hinder that promise from being kept! Now, Jesus didn’t promise them an easy trip to the other side. He didn’t say the waters would be calm. BUT He promised they would make it!

REMEMBER WHO IS IN YOUR BOAT! Jesus was with these guys. They had been with Him when He had done the miraculous so comfort should accompany the presence of Jesus. God is with you! He will never leave you or forsake you.

REMEMBER JESUS IS THE MASTER OF EVERY SITUATION! For some reason the disciples hadn’t gotten that yet. He was master over fish and bread and sickness and demons but not over the wind and waves? There is nothing that surprises God and He is Master over everything that comes against us!

REMEMBER WHERE PEACE TRULY LIES! Peace does not always lie in the absence of pain but is often found in midst of it. Jesus is IN THE BOAT with them and HE IS ALSEEP. Because He was in God’s will and operating on God’s timetable, Jesus knew that this storm would not overtake them. So He slept. Many times when we are going through things that we can’t control it feels like Jesus is asleep but we have to remember that it is truly peace if we are in God’s will. The hard part is sometimes realizing that the storm is God’s will, but once we remember His promises, His mastery and the fact that He is with us, we can have the peace that passes all understanding!

REMEMBER TO CALL OUT TO HIM! It was OK that the disciples woke Him up. Even though he said their faith was weak, at least they knew where or in whom their faith resided! They ran to Jesus and shook him awake and prayed for mercy! He calmed the storm – that thing they couldn’t control and then challenged them to allow their faith in Him to grow – that thing that they could control.

Storms are hard. They are out of our control. We can’t predict them. We can’t calm them. But we can trust that Jesus is MASTER over them!

Live on Purpose!

Giving What You DO Have!

So Wednesday I challenged you to think about your walk with Christ SO THAT you can minister to those in your care.

I will admit that discipling our kids is a hard job. I don’t know why. Something seems weird about sitting down and reading the Bible or praying. We probably feel inadequate most of time so we decide to leave our kids spiritual lives to the church. We say “they will teach them that at church…”

Let me tell you, though, that the role of the church is to support and enforce what you are teaching your children. After all, they spend about 2 hours at best at the church each week and the rest of their time is spent with YOU!

So how do you invest?

Start young! The younger they are when you start, the easier it will be to continue. BUT it is NEVER TOO LATE TO START. I mentioned that as young as I can possibly think back I can recall my parents sitting on the edge of my bed reading a devotional with me and praying before I went to sleep.

Stay at it! This was a pattern that would continue until I became “of beard.” Probably around 11-12 the devotional time shifted to mom doing a devotional with me every morning and praying with me before I went to school.

I will say, I had some struggles with that on occasion as a teen because I didn’t want to get up or say a prayer or whatever but boy do I remember it and I certainly believe it kept me on a trajectory toward Christ.

Start over! Don’t be discouraged if you miss time doing it. Simply start again. Nichole and I used to read the Bible with our kids when they were little and honestly there were times when life got in the way. We were traveling, they were spending the night somewhere or homework was being done. Just because there is a hiccup doesn’t mean it is over. Get back at it.

Share your journey! Following Jesus by faith is a walk. It is not a one time thing. Allow your kids to see your faith in action. Let them serve with you. Let them see how you respond in faith to difficulty. Be honest with them when you don’t get it right (that has great benefits too). Let them be a part of your walk with Christ.

You can’t give them your faith, but you can make your faith in Christ so attractive that they want it!

You see, the Great Commission is our calling as we follow Jesus. We are told to go into all the world and make disciples. That starts at home. Give your kids or those in your life what you have! Give them Jesus!

Live on Purpose!