Category Archives: prodigal

The pride of life, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes

ME

The bible warns us about the pride of life, lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes, but yet those are three concepts that define our world (culture).

Our culture assails us with phrases like “Do it Your Way,” “Have it Your Way,” and “Do it.”

Media in all forms: TV shows that capitalize on self-centered, crass and degrading themes; commercials that tempt us with things it says we deserve: new cars, trendy clothes, success; and much of music and gaming media that glorifies the lowest, basest self-centered instincts we have (eg. violence, lust, pride).

1 John 2: 15-17 says – 15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

So what I’m wondering is why we have an overabundance of pastors who preach prosperity, happiness and success when these are the very ideas we are warned to stay away from. I mean, think about it. If you go to a church where the pastor says you can have anything you want, God will favor you, and bless you for asking for whatever you want, isn’t the pastor tempting you with the very things that we are warned against in the above passage?

Jesus was tempted by Satan after fasting for 40 days. There’s an account of this in Matt 4: 1-11 and in Luke 4: 1-13. Jesus was really hungry and physically tired and that is when Satan swooped in and tempted him to turn stones into bread. Jesus rebuked him with God’s word so Satan led him to a high place overlooking cities and lands. He told Jesus that if he’d worship him, he would give Jesus all the kingdoms and land. Jesus rebuked him again with God’s word. Satan tried one more time by tempting him to take a risk, jump off the high place and let his angels save him. Jesus rebuked him a third time.

Jesus resisted satisfying his hunger because it was Satan, the evil one, who was tempting him. Jesus resisted the idea of power over kingdoms because Satan, the evil one, was doing the tempting. Jesus resisted taking the risk of falling and being caught by angels because it was Satan who was tempting him.

Are you seeing a pattern here?
Actually, I see two things happening here.

1. The pattern is that Satan is tempting Jesus with the very things our culture tells us are ours for the taking. But another, probably more important pattern is that every time Jesus is tempted, it is in weakness (hunger, tiredness), but He uses God’s word to defeat Satan.

2. The other thing I see is that Satan is trying to tempt Jesus with things that Jesus already has. As God, the father in flesh, He can satisfy his hunger, He already owns everything in the world, and He doesn’t have to take risks because He directs everything from the angels on down.

The take away for this is simple yet very hard for people to do, because it is
counter-cultural, wholly un-PC, and will for sure make you an outcast in society. It could even result in your persecution, loss of job/friends/family and ultimately loss of life.

When we hear messages, whether they come from culture or the pulpit, we need to look at God’s word, the Holy Bible, to see what He says about the message we’ve heard. Does it line up with His truth, or is this something God warns us about?

The other thing we must remember is that as a “child of God” we already have life-sustaining, living water and bread (God’s word) by which we will never thirst, nor ever go hungry. Also, as a “child of God” we are already heirs to the kingdom. The big one; not the earthly, corruptible cities on earth. Finally, as a “child of God” we don’t have to work towards success because our lives are in God’s hands.

His will, will be done.


The truth about lies – part 5

Please don’t stone me for this blog topic, but much money has been made on discussing sin — all types. We all sin, so that isn’t up for discussion, but somehow, many people have made their life’s work and paycheck by touring the country talking to about (name any sin).

One in particular though, is a “hot” topic right now — homosexuality, or whatever acronyms that are used to describe some facet of it. No matter how we “frame” it, it is still sin. To give time, resources, and so much explanation as so many have to sin, serves only to propagate the lie that deceives us into negating the power of Christ’s death on the cross to overcome ALL sin. The lie says we (people) can save others — that we (people) shouldn’t leave any behind — that we (people) are responsible if people die damned in their sin.

We ALL sin and fall short of the glory of God – Rom 3:23.

That’s exactly why He sent His son, but what I can’t understand is why we (people) spend so much time trying to understand cause and effect of sin (all kinds) when the bible says sin is the result of the fall. There are so many discussions, books, and speakers on sin, that all they do is blunt the true, wicked nature that we all have. Rom 3:10 says NONE are righteous, not even one.

The bible is sufficient for all people no matter what our struggles are. We don’t need to be told from the pulpit or in books the how’s, the why’s, the what to do’s about sin. Jer 17:9 says our hearts are desperately sick and we can’t understand it.

If we really believe that God is who He says He is and His son’s blood is the atonement for our sins, then He alone can release us from the bondage of our sin. The more we try to manage, work through, and survive our sin or help others with theirs, the more we take power away from Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We don’t save people. We can’t even save ourselves – Christ alone does – Eph 2: 8-9.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to change us, we love as Christ loved and He abides in us — I Jn 4:16, but if we feel awkward, repulsed, or judgmental in being with other sinners, that is a work we need to ask the Holy Spirit to change in us. It’s personal. We all work out our salvation with fear and trembling – Phil 2:12-13.

When the Holy Spirit dwells in us, it does the work of changing our lives – John 4:10. Can we just go back to the bible and believe that IT is sufficient for teaching, reproving, correction, and instruction for our lives.- 2 Tim 3:16.

This isn’t just my opinion, this is what the bible says.

I’m praying today that churches will go back to the bible and let our LORD, Jesus Christ, do the work of saving souls. The more time and effort we give to understanding sin, the more time and effort is taken away from sharing God’s truth to the very ones who need to hear it.

Let’s let the word of God and the power of the cross change people’s lives.

Trusting God in all things and if you must stone me, at least try to hit the basket. I can use the stones to shore up my path – Ps 119:105.

Sorry. Bad believer humor. I know.


The redeemer

All of us have a redemption story and most, if not all of them fall into one of four categories. Psalm 107 gives us a snapshot of what those types look like, but what do they look like in current culture?

The first type is the “Seeker.” (vs. 4-9)
The “Seeker” is someone who is a wanderer. They are hungry and thirsty for something meanginful that makes them feel important and happy, but everything they try is short-lived and offers immediate gratification, and leaves them wanting more. It’s a bit like eating Chinese food. You can eat a boatload of it. Stuff yourself, then an hour later, your hungry again.

Seekers also have no ties, no commitments, or no anchor in their lives. They remain aloof and always eager for the next adventure, the next thrill, or the next Chinese meal, hoping that will satisfy the deep longing they have.

Have you ever experienced the thrill of a fun and dangerous roller coaster ride or a parachute jump and then automatically wanted to do it again?

Seekers are forever searching for the fastest, dangerous roller coasters and highest, difficult parachute jumps in order to sustain the “adrenaline rush” they get from the activity.

The second type is the “Captive.” (vs. 10-16)
The “Captives” are people who are prisoners that live in darkness often shackled by something they cannot readily see. They are so enslaved sometimes that they remain in bondage until they die and many times they die as a result of the bondage.

You might be thinking that we don’t have slavery in our current culture, but almost all people are enslaved by something. Overeating, drugs, and drinking are some of the most obvious bonds, but watching questionable TV shows, listening to negative, degrading music, and participating in risky and damaging behaviors are invisible bonds that enslave us that no one but you knows about.

Repeating these types of behaviors over and over changes our perceptions and our thinking, which influences our decision-making processes and determines our behavior. It creates a pattern of sin that is very difficult to break. When this happens, you are enslaved.

The third category are “Fools.” (vs. 17-22)
No one wants to be in THIS category, yet many are. They are the people that think they know best. They also don’t understand their own limitations. Oftentimes, they get in situations where they’re in over their head, they feel overwhelmed, and they put themselves in danger without thinking about the ramifications.

These types of people, lose jobs, money and friendships and sometimes their lives for their foolish decisions. They reap what they sow.

The fourth type of person is “Self-Sufficient.” (vs. 23-32)
This type actually sounds like it should be a good type to be. These people are successful in business and in relationships. It seems that everything they touch turns to gold. Whatever they want, they go out there and grab it. People like this don’t see the need for God. As long as they can control their circumstances, they do well.

Being this type of person though is almost more dangerous than being any other type because they don’t leave any room for God. They think if they can’t make something happen, then it can’t be done.

In all of these scenarios, one thing is apparent. They all need deliverance (redemption) from themselves.

Seekers need a leader they can trust.
Captives need a savior who can liberate them from bondage.
Fools need wisdom which only comes from the truth of God’s word.
The self-sufficient need a deliverer when they can no longer control their circumstances.

Our path to a relationship with Christ is our own, but no matter what your redemption story is, there is only ONE redeemer.

God, through His son Jesus Christ is our leader, our savior, the source of wisdom and a deliverer who always provides a way of escape for us.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (KJV) “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

Thank you, Jesus!


The translation


I’m a firm believer that God speaks to us primarily through His word. That’s the reason He wrote it. It is our source of truth.

The only “real” truth in a world full of lies.

Pastors translate passages of the bible and call it a sermon, authors write books and bloggers write blogs around snippets of scripture, and much our culture has been trained to read the bible via a daily devotional email or in hard-copy devotions that were made so popular over the last couple of decades.

I’m not going to bag on pastors or authors. I enjoy reading and listening to other people’s viewpoints about scripture, for sure, but I don’t always accept their view as “gospel truth.”

I know alot of people who say that certain authors break down the scripture in such a way that they can understand it.

That bothers me, because just the change of a word or a phrase, and the use of only one verse, can change the whole meaning and therefore the interpretation of scripture as well. When that happens, we are relying more on man’s interpretation than on God’s word to enlighten us to His truths.

I get a few different email devotions every morning and I read them, then I look up the same verses in different translations other than what the devotion used, and I look at the scriptures around the verse to get a sense of the context.

This brings understanding to God’s word.

For example, earlier this week someone shared a verse with me that had alot of meaning for them and they gave it as an encouragement to me. The verse Jeremiah 29:11 is well known in the NIV translation; it goes like this:

For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord,” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

This verse is one that inspires such hope for Christians, but this is a bit different than what the King James version states.

KJV says “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

To put context ( vs. 1-13) around this verse, God is speaking to the elders, priests and others whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive and is warning them against false prophets. He implores them to listen to Him and gives instruction to them about seeking Him and praying to Him alone.

In many devotions, verse 11 in the NIV has been pulled out of context and is primarily crafted around “our plan, our prosperity, our hope.”

It’s a feel-good verse for sure, but how many Christians do you know who never get to realize positive plans, lose jobs/livelihoods, feel hopeless over a terminal illness or sudden death.

It’s seems a false hope to me.

The KJV version of this verse seems to say that the Lord was thinking about His people in captivity, thought of peace and no evil for them, and that they would have an expected end.

An “expected end” could mean anything but I would never assume it meant prosperity.

As the scriptures get whittled down even further and get mingled with the interpretations of man, I know I must remain vigilant in searching for God’s truth, even in a feel-good devotion or an uplifting sermon.

Hail to the King!
The King James version, that is.


The lifeguard’s rule

The bible says we should love the sinner, hate the sin.

But what does that look like?
I believe sharing the truth with someone is the way we show love, afterall, we’re talking about true love.

Would you lie to someone to spare their feelings, even though what their doing is wrong? What does that accomplish?
According to 2 Cor. 6:14 – 7:1, we are not to align ourselves with unbelievers.

6:14 Do not be yolked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” 18 And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Chapter 7:1 “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

When we choose a friendship with someone who’s living in sin and wants to stay in their sin over our obedience to Christ, we’ve made the friendship an idol. It stands between us and God. That’s not biblical.

I heard a really good analogy last night of what happens when we enmesh ourselves into other people’s sin with the idea that we can save them through staying in the friendship/relationship.

From my brother-in-law (BIL) who took an Advanced Lifeguard class:

He said that he was trained to save lives and learned early on that a drowning person is very dangerous. The one who is drowning flails around and grabs at anything or anyone trying to get purchase, but when it is another person they’ve grabbed onto, the instinct is to pull them down with them in an effort to save themselves. That’s why you hear of so many multiple deaths in drowning accidents when fathers, siblings and friends try desperately to save a drowning victim.

Lifeguard Rule #1. Save yourself, so you can save others.
My BIL was trained to subdue the person he’s trying to save, whether that meant punching them in the face, pinning their arms from behind, or by whatever means necessary, so they both don’t drown. In doing this, both people are saved.

When we have a prodigal child or adult, a homosexual, bi-sex, or transgender child or friend, an alcoholic, drug user, whatever, if we choose to walk alongside them to preserve the relationship, it is the equivalent to allowing a drowning victim to grab us and drag us down into the abyss. If we do not disable them from grabbing at us, it will cost both lives; and eternal life for the ones we’re trying to save.

Disabling them in this instance means to set a boundary with them. Allowing them to live in their sin, without becoming a party to it. Any time you do spend with the person it should be intentional and eternity focused.

Ya, this idea is unpopular with culture and even in many churches, but that is why Matt. 7:13-14 says “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Ephesians 5:1-13 says “1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater —has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.”

So, I have to ask myself, my friends and other Christians, is it really true love to hold an unbeliever’s hand as they walk the road to hell?

I know. This seems harsh, but eternity is at stake here.


The language of prayer

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 In regular conversation between humans, and animals, there’s a “call” and an “answer.” One calls, the other responds. This is the way we should pray as well.

I know for me, I’ve called God alot and told Him of my troubles, my concerns, my anguish, but I haven’t so often opened dialogue with “God, I need to hear (an answer) from you. I don’t know what you want me to think, feel, respond. Direct me in your word. Show me what you want me to know, learn, do.”

The Psalms were written as David’s prayers to God, but the first one isn’t a prayer. It’s more of a meditation. A time where he deliberately thought about God and what it looks like to live a righteous life.

Meditation is also an important aspect of prayer. People meditate everyday without even realizing they’re doing it. Every thought, dream, plan, and desire we have are forms of meditation. And, the things we meditate on form us.

I’ve spent countless hours thinking about, dreaming over, and planning through almost everything in my life, but not through the lens of God’s desire for me. Rather I’ve thought about what “I” wanted to do, what makes “me” happy, or how “I” could change to do things better or differently. It hadn’t occurred to me that I was firmly entrenched in meditating mainly on myself and under my own power.

I’d left no room for God. And worse yet, my ideas often didn’t turn out quite like I dreamed they would and others completely flamed out.

As I learn more about meditation and prayer, I want to focus on righteous living as David did and practice letting God direct me in prayer, rather than always calling on him with all my problems.

Psalm 1: 1-2 says “Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”

This will definitely be a change for me, but I am excited to see what God will do. He’s the master of transformation, but sometimes His methods are hard to understand, yet I will remain open to His desire for me.


The truth about lies – Part 4

Admonishing others – that’s unheard of in our culture today, unless you’re lucky enough to be the boss (parent or employer) of others.

But seriously. What comes to mind when you hear that word?
Judge? Condemn? Rebuke?

Webster’s says it means: to express warning or disapproval to especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner.

It doesn’t mean any of those descriptors that I gave, yet when Christians speak the truth to those that they love, they are quickly told they are being “judgmental” or “condemning.”

I should probably clarify something before going any further. Churches (people) who picket funerals of servicemen with signs that say “God Kills Gays” ARE being judgmental. They are radicals and don’t represent most believers.

Last night, the subject of admonishing others came up in a discussion among other believers. One person in the group said she has a friend who claims to be a Christian 20+ years, but doesn’t live like she is one. The person in the group said she dials back from confrontations about it with her friend, because she doesn’t want to lose the friendship. Another person mentioned that the reason they don’t want to confront others about their sin is because they in turn, don’t want to be judged for something they are doing.

Colossians 3: 1-17 and 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 speak pretty directly about Christian living and our accountability to one another.

In fact, in 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 the NIV makes it very clear.
14 Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. 15 Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.

When we don’t share the truth with people (admonish them) even when it’s at times painful, it is the same as lying to them. I don’t want to lie to someone just to protect their feelings. And I don’t like being lied to either. Lying doesn’t build trust. It offers false hope built on deceit.

According to the scriptures, it is biblical to speak the truth to people, and we need people (friends/family) who will speak the truth to us. That is the loving thing to do.

How did we get so far off base from what the bible instructs us to do?

Some people say it’s because of the passage of Matthew 7: 1-7 where in verse 1, it speaks about being careful to judge others lest you be judged, and then verse 7 says “…helping get the splinter out of someone’s eye when you have a plank in your own.”

Yet, if we look back up to the top of this blog entry, the definition of admonish has nothing to do with “judging” people and if we are admonishing others while we are ignoring or denying our own sin, we DO need to be admonished in return.

For many years, I was careful about admonishing anyone other than the people I raised because I was unwilling to overhaul my sinful life and didn’t want them pointing the finger back at me, but worse, I wasn’t reading God’s truth everyday as a reminder on how I should live. I wanted to live my life, my way.

There was no place for God in that equation, but He’s been impressing upon me, His rightful place in my life. Over the last several years, and especially the last few months, He’s convicted me, put me squarely in front of His word and He’s transforming me from the inside out.

I may lose friends and even family by taking a very unpopular stand, but I am the only one who can answer for my life when I face the judgment seat of Christ.

So if you’re my friend or my family member and I speak to you in truth, it’s because I love you.