Wednesday, July 17, 2019
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1 Peter 3:7 the value of difficulty and trials for disciples of Jesus

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Trials are a Gift for Spiritual Growth and Eternal Rewards

thats a cliche thing for a Christian to say, but it’s what the second most connected person to Jesus says – Peter.

John, who wrote the Gospel of John, Revelation, and 1,2,3rd John, was known as the “one whom Jesus loved,” seemingly the best friend of Jesus. Peter was also close and uniquely connected to Jesus. Peter’s faithful proclamation that “Jesus is the messiah, the son of the living God” was identified by Jesus as the foundation of the a future movement or “gathering,” which we call the “church.”

Peter writes in a letter to believers, that our trials serve as a refiner for our faith, like how fire purified the slag out of gold.

Peter also says that when we remain faithful throughout the trials we face, we will be rewarded on the day that’s Jesus judges the entire world.

Thats not something we should boast about, but it should also serve as an encouragement for us as we press on through difficulties.

Remember that faith is the confidence the confidence that what Jesus and the word of God said is truth, is actually truth.  Whoever would please God with faith must believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who seek Him.

Claim this lromise for your life, remain faithful through trials and tribulations, and God will reward you (if you’ve placed your full faith in Christ.)

When we’re faithful – pursue faith and Jesus’ way in the turmoil, He will reward us.

Read psalms during hard times, pray constantly, sourround yourself with God-fearing people, and live ina God-honoring way, and God will cause it all to work together for the good.

Truly imagine if you saw Jesus

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Role play for a moment, what seeing Jesus must have been like

I’m completely unable to fathom another time period. 

 My favorite movies are those that try to recreate time periods that are completely otherly to my modern mind, so I can fathom just a little bit of how different our times are.

I had a vision the other day, of what it must have been like to walk for days or weeks, seeking out a man that was so special, that rumor had traveled the first century landscape to actually reach my ears. No electricity, no industrial revolution, no phone, not even a Church had been started yet, just Rome, Judaism, and paganism.

Imagine you head to find this man because you have faith that something good might happen if you find Him and let Him teach you and lay hands on you. 

That’s it – you’ve got some little hope that the rumors are true – and with that little bit of faith, you seek a man that might be a prophet from God – but you can’t be sure.

Imagine how for 400 years, the prophets of your God have been “silent,” and your nation has been invaded by Rome – the most dominant force the planet had ever experienced.  But now there’s a man calling others to repentance, causing a massive movement out in the desert, and now that guy has told about Jesus – and said He’s the messiah that had been promised in the oldest writings in the Torah.

As you walk through the total and utter darkness, using the primal and primitive technology of the year 30 AD, you reach the town which rumors report is close to Jesus and His band of disciples.

You sleep at an inn, under the stars, or at a home, to awake the next day to seek Him.

You’re not sure what’s going to happen, but you’ve heard He’s a prophet sent from God – so you just have to see Him.

You leave out that morning to find Jesus – so you ask around and pay attention to the crowds. They’re all searching for Him too, because rumor has it that if you ask Him, He’ll heal you, feed you, and totally change your life.  Not only will He do a miracle for you – but He teaches like no other.

As you approach the area, it gets late. There’s a crowd of people walking with you, as if headed to a sports game together.  You and the others start talking about the rumors you’ve all heard, when someone speaks up excitedely and confidently assures you that it’s all true, because she’s been coming to Jesus for weeks.

Your caravan comes to the edge of a large body of water, and everyone is pushing in towards Jesus and the group of disciples.

I can’t fathom what it must have been like.  

The scene is utterly overwhelming, because magic is on display before you, leaving people freaking out in utter rejoicing.

Men and women alike are dancing, weeping, on their knees worshipping in some crazy intense ways…… you walk past them in the crowd, ignoring the deep sobs and weeping pouring out of the people next to you – it all sounds and looks very intense, powerful, and it causes your pulse to quicken.

Seriously think of what that was like.  

Blind are seeing, lame are walking, diseased are cured and the dying are made whole again. 

I can’t imagine the fervor and rejoicing that must have been going on when the miracles were being performed.  

But the fervor ceases instantly when Jesus speaks.  The whole group stands silent, at attention, leaning in to hear.  It’s a huge group, so in order for all to hear, nobody makes even a slight sound.

I can’t imagine how entrancing the words of God must have been to those who listened and accepted.  

Obviously there were throngs of skeptics, scoffers, and people who weren’t going to let this kind of thing outshine their own glory. 

You move closer…. sitting down to hear Him teach.

The entire group is spellbound – then when He finishes, He looks right at you.

His gaze cuts right to your deepest being – and instantly connects with you personally. His bold humility is enchanting – and then He comes to you, and heals you.

Seriously folks – really think about that.

Now He asks you if you believe, and whether you’ll turn from your sins and turn to God.  He tells you what the kingdom of Heaven is like – principles that show the perfect goodness of a Holy God.

Then He looks at you, and touches you. You might have been blind, and now you see. Lame, but now you walk. Stricken, but now set free. Diseased, but cured. Dying, but brought to life.

Imagine that the terror of immimennt death, disease, illness and even children’s deaths, are wiped away in a moment.

I mean, really really think of that.

He is God. He came to earth folks, we butchered Him, He arose, and He is coming back to judge all creation.  Don’t be found guilty for the sin that condemns us all from birth. Jesus came and atoned for our penalty, and if we place our trust in Him, we receive atonement.

I’ve studied this from a scientific, sociological, theological, historical, and philosophical perspective. I’m telling you, God is surely real, and He’s revealed Himself to humans in the past.  Those revelations were recorded, and you really need to read the testimony of those who encountered God in antiquity.

Science affirms God, history affirms the biblical account, and the depths of humanity are revealed in the pages of the old and New Testament.

Faith is the confidence that God was who He claimed to be, and that He rewards those who draw close to Him.  

Turn to Jesus, He is real.

All you have to do is turn to Him in faith, and turn your life over to His way.

Ask God to reveal Himself to you, in certain you’ll encounter Hom.

James 3:17 a verse about peace and gentleness and yielding to others

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james 3:17

“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.”‭‭James‬ ‭3:17

What a beautiful list for us to examine our lives by!

I know that my gentleness is really hard to keep going, as my sinful nature is kind of harsh, tough, and a little irritable.

Are you a dad that gets mad and angry at your kids? I know that it’s something that I’ve struggled with, particularly as my kids have gotten to the age where they bicker with each other.

Nothing can grab my temper trigger and pull it faster than two kids fighting about really stupid stuff.

What frees me? The way we get working on this is reading verses like this, repenting and turning from the anger, and my wife and I working at at.

Another verse that helps with this is “always be joyful, never stop praying.”

When we are in constant prayer with God, and abiding in Him, we are in the flow of goodness and we tend to stay more aware about staying godly with patience and kindness.

Another thing I’ve found helps me is to read these verses together with my spouse, so that we’re working at doing the same thing in our lives.

Pray for God to give you a patient and gentle heart, and the power and desire to do what pleases Him.

Another factor is seeking peace in our family and around us, but doing it by serving.

It’s easy to get irritable and non-gentle when our pursuits are disrupted. Whether we pursue a zone out session in front of a TV, a time to drink alcohol, a quiet ride to and from the grocery store, or intimacy with our spouse; when we have the heart of a servant, we tend to be more gentle and less irritable.

Notice that God’s way is also full of the fruit of good works and peace. We can be much happier if we cultivate and try to do good works to those around us.

Nothing is more fun or satisfying than when you add value to the lives of others through good deeds.

I know I struggle every day with being like this verse, but with God I’m able to have it more and more each moment.

A life that abides on Christ is full of the fruits that God’s Holy Spirit produces,

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • And self control.

Those are the greatest things in life, and having them along with eternal salvation is possible by placing our faith and trust in Jesus as our Lord and savior.

Folks, I’ve studied this from the perspectives of science, theology, philosophy, and reason, and I assure you that the most probable reality in this world is that God’s creation, as described in the Revelation of ancient writings, happened.

God created us for His glory, to be in relationship with Him.

All the revelations He’s made through the ages points to the one command as the prime instruction and rule:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

This commandment means we will believe that God exists, and that He rewards those who seek Him – and we will seek Him!

Talk to God, turn to Him, and start to learn about Him and His ways by reading the Bible. The New Testament is the story of Jesus coming and paying the penalty for our sins so we can stand justified before God by our faith – it’s authored and describes the years 0-90 ad or so.

Read it, and reach out to God in faith – then put on God’s ways over your own, and I promise goodness and mercy will follow you.

Yield to others

Another helpful idea in this verse is to yield to other people.

There’s a verse in Corinthians that tells us to “bear with one another, making allowances for each other’s faults because of our love.”

Yielding to other people has become rare in America today, and the mode in culture is a brash, bold and belligerent entitlement from all sorts of perspectives.

If we are to be like Christ, to experience a deeper dullness of Him, we need to die to our “rights” and “pick up our cross.”

Jesus modeled this idea of “being-with” each other, or yielding in the most profound way. Jesus was God, He deserved honor, praise and glory, and yet He came here to earth and served us.  He sided for our sins, took the position to be killed on a criminals cross, He was abused and cursed by people – when He could have caused the fabric of the cosmos to unwind at His very word.

We should notice Jesus’ way of servanthood, patience, yielding to others, bearing with each other and forgive each other’s faults.

When we do this, we are peacemakers!

If you ever need to talk about faith, please reach out on this site and I will pray for you and help you.

Few things have helped improve my life more than sobriety

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I know that most people don’t want to talk about it, but alcohol produces few good results. In fact, almost every impact alcohol has had on the people around me, has been negative or distractive.

In high school, I started to enjoy drinking and partying with friends, and it’s weird how it distorts reality and creates a selfish attitude.

That’s one of the biggest problems with alcohol, is that it becomes an idol.  Why does it become an idol? Because you will be displeased until you get the opportunity to catch your buzz.

If you find yourself getting irritable with your wife, kids, or friends because they get in the way of you enjoying alcohol, you should probably start considering sobriety.

It’s weird the clarity and helpfulness sobriety provides, it turns off the “white noise” in life, and helps you start to get to work improving your life.

The biggest benefit I found in sobriety, was being able to build momentum in life around things that really matter. It is much easier to read books, meditate on scripture, write stories, play with your kids, and educate yourself when you’re not preoccupied with drinking wine or catching a buzz.

i wanted to share a piece of hope I’ve experienced, and I’d love to encourage you to free yourself from the chains of addiction.

oh yeah – that’s what it’s really called, addiction….

how to grow your faith when you just started to believe

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Getting started with your faith.

Faith comes from Hearing the word of God.  

Faith is then being confident that God exists, and that He rewards those who seek Him – and then responding by seeking Him.

I grew up believing in God, but my high school years were filled with rebelling and living my own way. I decided to finally follow Jesus one day after  going to church and responding to the pastor’s preaching.

I prayed the prayer and made an actual decision to follow Jesus and be His disciple.. On that day I was no longer a slave to sin, but it was the beginning in a long process which will never be complete. At that moment of authentic belief, choice, and action, I received eternal life and atonement for my sins.

It’s important that after we start our faith, we mature it and grow it.

If you’re new to your faith, I want to help encourage you to know the most basic things you ought to do in order have your faith mature.

Faith Alone Saves Us

First off, remember that it’s by placing our faith and trust in Jesus, believing He really died and rose again, and having a relationship with Him, that saves us.

Faith is the confidence that Jesus is who He claimed to be.

And without faith it is impossible to please God. For whoever would please God,
must believe that he exists, and that he rewards those who seek him.

Faith comes down to two things:

  • Believe that He exists.
  • and that He rewards those who seek Him.

Basic faith 101 – believe in Him and actually relate to Him by talking to Him, confessing, and apologizing for sin, and casting your cares upon Him.

In Mark chapter 2, we see men believing so deeply that Jesus has the power to heal their paralyzed friend, that they are determined to push through a massive crowd blocking the house that Jesus was staying at. These guys were so confident in Jesus’ ability to transform their friend’s life, that they dig a hole in the roof and lower their buddy down to Jesus, which was probably the only way to get him right in front of Jesus for a miracle. Jesus says that this confidence in His power, and their action of coming to Him to use that power, was genuine and bona-fide faith that Jesus wants, which is why Jesus then heals the paralyzed man.

If you’re a new believer, while it can get overwhelming sometimes as you try to dig through the Bible, and do all the right things, all you need to start with, is a simple faith and relationship with God.

After believing, respond in action by coming to Him.

What is faith?

Simple faith is the faith that God exists, that Jesus rose from the dead, and that you can come to Him and He will cleanse you from the guilt of your sin.

Believe, and Respond

He’s a person, so talk to Him and cast your cares upon him, tell Him what you need and ask Him to guide you, forgive you, and to give you wisdom.

Talk to God Like This:

“Lord, give me both the desire, and the power, to do what pleases you.”

“Lord, help me to know you, and abide in you, so that I can honor you.”

“Lord Jesus, give me wisdom, teach me, and transform me into a version of myself that’s much more like you.”

“Lord, keep me from deliberate sins, don’t let them control me. May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be pleasing to you.”

The number one behavior that Christians need to have, is to realize that this God is not some distant cosmic force like we find in the marvel universe or in movies.  He is God, and He relates to us personally, and promised that if we confess our sins to Him, cast our cares upon Him, and ask anything in His name, He will sustain and respond to us.

So if you’re starting to get overwhelmed with your new faith, I highly recommend keeping it very simple.

Three most basic behaviors for new believers.

1 – Read a little bit of the Bible every day

Start to understand God, and the grand story around you, through the Bible.

Download the Best IPhone Bible App and download the Youversion app. Then read a bit everyday. Creating a user account allows to highlight things so you can read later.

Read a new living translation (NLT) Bible or a New International Version (NIV) Bible. This is the most basic rendering of the Bible, and is most helpful for people when they are new to their faith.

Our vernacular has changed so much over the centuries, that the Greek text has been interpreted into more modern sentence structure and common language, to make it more accessible to normal people like us.

2 – watch messages and listen to podcasts of great teaching.

This is like “drinking spiritual baby milk” and helps you progress and mature your faith.  Maturing your faith is done through knowledge about Him, understanding, wisdom, and then it shows itself through a transformed life.

Watch great messages from compelling biblical teachers or listen to one a day. Get the podcast app for your iPhone, and listen to one a day.

Fill your mind with this stuff, meditate on it, rewire and recode your mind with God’s word.

My Three Favorite Speakers for New Believers:

  1. EaglebrookChurch.com,
  2. Northpoint.com, and
  3. lifeChurch.com

I don’t recommend these guys because they are any better, or more biblical then other teachers. I recommend them because they are excellent communicators, and have built a team around them to make sure that their messages are extremely relevant and helpful, while being full of biblical truth.

You’ll quickly understand if you jump down the rabbit hole of Internet Christianese, that Christians have a nasty habit of criticizing any preacher that isn’t their distinct flavor. The articles that criticize get read like crazy, and linked to, which causes Google to serve them up in results and inquiries. The authority in all things is God’s word – the bible. You also need the most basic version of it, like spiritual milk, which teaching from preachers can do.

Good Teaching can help you understand things better.

3 – Get plugged into a bible believing church and commit to NEVER MISSING A WEEK!

My Favorite Church:

 

God’s word is your authority, great teachers can help make it simple and clear to you, but it’s critically important that you get plugged into a true community of believers where you can have friendships that are helpful.

Make going to church a top priority, so that 10 years from now, you can look back and know that you have had 500 educational and spiritual moments that help form you into who you are.

The cumulative positive effect of continuous church attendance is undeniable.

A church is a gathering of people, and it can provide you with the ability to build the right kind of friendships and relationships.

So if you’re just getting started in your faith, remember that you need to just reach out in faith to God and ask for his help, confess your sins and apologize to him, and cast your cares upon him. He’s a personal God and you need to talk with Him because He’s right there with you now, as you read this – and He know’s your inner most thoughts and secrets already.

A church will help you obey, particularly as you start to live in what’s called “biblical community,” where you pray for each other, spur each other along, support each other’s needs, encourage one another, and work together to live lives that are known for love, truth, and goodness.

That’s part of what it means to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and then you need to love your neighbor as yourself.

As you read God’s word and develop a more mature faith, hopefully, you’ll get the desire and the power to do what pleases God.

Faith without obedience, or actions, is a dead faith. But faith alone saves us, not what we do.

A church will help you obey – through encouragement and accountability.

Holiness, humility, service, and obedience, are all things that please God. Generously giving also pleases God. This does not mean you have a checklist of things in order to have God’s love. Rather, In order to honor God, and love Him with all your strength, you must obey what He taught us, paying particular attention to the New Testament. So don’t neglect abstaining from sin and trying to live a holy life, because those who are not holy, will struggle and languish and not have a real and saving faith.

When we go on sinning deliberately after coming to Jesus and knowing that our actions are sinful, it’s critical that we enslave ourselves to obedience and toil away at putting to death our sinful actions. We should have a struggle going on inside us, where we are fighting to obey God and not sin. But there’s also tremendous joy in obedience! Our lives will flourish, we’ll experience Gods peace, and He will bless us!

I pray this is helpful, and I hope to see you on heaven one day!

Is it a sin to date a non christian? Three ways to win in love, sex, and dating

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Is it a sin to date a non christian? Is it a sin to marry a non christian?

Is it a sin to date a non christian?

Three ways to win in love, sex, and dating.

“Rob, I think that I love you”

Hearing those words at the age of 18 was like, what I imagine, a hit of heroin must feel like. It made me feel SO good, and strummed my heart strings in a way that intoxicated me.

Hearing “I love you” at 18 was intoxicating, but nothing compared to the depth of love and wholeness from my wise and Godly wife.

What does this have to do with the question, “is it a sin to date a non-christian”?  I pursued that intoxicating feeling in a foolish way when I was young, and it caused me to go into the ditch with my life in many ways.  It also pales in comparison to the amazing contentment, fulfillment, and utter ecstasy of my marriage with my wife – I just wish I would have pursued that Godly vision when I was young.

When we find ourselves asking questions like this, it’s because we’re wrestling with a tension between our desires and our conscience.

The question “is it a sin to date a non Christian person” isn’t as much about dating, as it is about having desires and behaviors that lead to abundant life, because the only reason why you’d ask this question is if:

You’d only inquire about “is it a sin to date a non christian” if:

  • You know there’s a standard for right and wrong
  • Your conscience is bugging you
  • Your desires are getting a hold of you in a strong way

If you’re asking “is it a sin to marry or date a non-christian,” it’s because deep down, you want to live in a manner that leads to abundant life, honors God, and leads to wholeness.  However, chances are that your struggling with executing on that vision, or with the power to live in such a way.

Why I’m writing this:

So why is it that I decided to write this? It’s because I can remember back when this was an important question in my life, and I didn’t make the choices that lead to relational wholeness, or to abundant life; although God eventually called me to repentance and redeemed me. Because of the foolish choices that I made, it caused some death in my life.

Too Many People are Screwing Up Their Lives

I’ve been happily married to my wife for nine years – and it’s been a journey. Things haven’t been perfect, but it’s my wife and I’s pursuit of a God-honoring vision that has allowed us to move our marriage in the right direction.

Nine years of marriage isn’t a super long time, but it’s been interesting to observe some of the people around us deal with the wreckage in their life because of the choices they’ve made concerning love, sex, and dating. Not only did I see people around me suffer because they did not pursue a Godly vision for love, but my younger self caused so much harm to my life that I hope others don’t have to go through.
I’ve noticed that there are always some prime indicators and root causes to many of people’s problems.
When I meet somebody, who has decided to date someone who doesn’t care to honor God in the way that they live, I’ve learned that it always leads to disastrous results. Starting to date somebody who doesn’t follow Jesus, might not seem like that big of a deal and it sounds kind of corny even as I type it out, but I assure you that few things cause more wreckage in peoples lives, then getting intimate with a fool.

Few things cause as much wreckage in people’s lives that getting intimate with a fool

Getting intimate with a fool, sounds harsh. I don’t mean it to be cruel, demeaning, or arrogant, I mean it to be helpful and authentic.

My Graduating Class was the First Generation of Millennials

I am 35 years old, and I’m technically the first generation of the millennials. I graduated in the year 2000, which means I’m literally the first of the millennials.

In my experience, few things can impact someone’s life more than how they handle love, sex, and dating. In fact, I’ve found that what the Bible says about sexual sin, and the company of fools, to always be true.

What the Bible Says about:

Sexual Sin: No other sin is quite as damaging to oneself as sexual sin. 1 Corinthians 6:18

Fools: The company of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20

As I spend time meditating on the life I want to live, and the life that I’ve lived up to this point, I’ve decided it’s important to share what I’ve learned along the path. That’s why I’ve decided to write about the subject, because I think it matters greatly to peoples ability to live in a manner that leads to relational wholeness, contentment, and wisdom.

Who asks this question?

If you’re asking this question, it’s probably safe to assume a couple of things:

  • Who you are: You probably consider yourself a “Christian person”
  • The situation your in: You probably have found yourself, or a friend, going out with, dating, or desiring a person that you think or know isn’t a “Christian”
  • Your Conscience: Somewhere along the line in life, you’ve heard it said that you shouldn’t date or marry a non-Christian person.

I’m glad that someone would be asking this, because I think that it’s a question that can easily delve into some pretty important things for young people, and even older people.

3 Things to help you win in Love, Sex, and Dating.

1 – Create an Inspiring Vision for the Future, one that’s Worth Latching your Desires to.

Whether your over 35, or your still in middle school, if you’ve found yourself asking this question, it’s critical that you stop and do some thinking.

Desires:

We are heavily influenced and manipulated by our desires.

It is our desires that creates a “gravitational pull” in our lives, tempting us or motivating us towards something.

If you want to experience wholeness in any area of your life, you should start by examining your desires.

My Desire to Be a Lakeville Football Stud:

My desire was once to be one of the best football players, which lead me to work and train harder than most people.

I’ll never forget back in eighth grade, when my little group of friends decided to attend a Lakeville panther football game on a beautiful, fall Friday evening.

Going to that football game, hearing the fans, the thundering sound of the Earp’s marching band, watching the fury on the turf, and remembering my love for the game, all worked together to formulate a vision for the future.  I wanted to be like those badass football captains that rallied the team to dominance over their opponents.

I wanted to be an awesome football player that everyone would admire on a Friday evening.

I’ve learned that this desire and vision for the future was too much about my own glory, which lead to some foolishness.

But that night I developed a vision and I turned it into an obsession.

Vision motivates us and shapes our desires.

That night I formulated the first version of my vision, but it became more fully orbed when I chose some mentors in the weight room that summer.  Once my vision was formed, and I saw the path needed to obtain it, my training became almost effortless.

I always wanted to train harder, go heavier, get another workout in, and challange myself.  My vision for the future allowed me to relentlessly execute for a couple of years.

That is, until my vision changed.

A Non-Christian Dating Relationship was the Tide-Turning Moral Compromise which Wrecked my Vision and Desires
What caused my vision for the future to change?  When I became a different person through a long serious of moral compromises and then the tide-changing choice of intimacy.

I was already on a path of destruction because I was pursuing my own glory, but there was a particular tide-change when I compromised in the area of purity.

I think the first thing people should do if they’re wondering about whether or not they should date a non-Christian person, is to develop a vision for the future.

We too often settle for the life that shows up, rather than pursuing an intentional, and purposeful vision.

It’s a tragedy and we don’t create invigorating visions for our future, because it can drive us towards good things.

Why is Vision so important?

The reason why the intentional pursuit of a God-honoring vision is so important, is because Vision creates the gravitational pull in our lives concerning our desires.  Vision doesn’t make our choices, but it’s a useful tool in helping us move towards a more beneficial future.

Plot the Life you Hope to Live – and Examine your Desires.

If you’re asking “is it a sin to date a non Christian?” I hope you can take a step back and think about something for a minute: your path and your desires.

Your Path: What do you want life to look like 5, 10, and 25 years from now?

Open up a note in your phone, and write down this question:

What do you really want in life in 5, 10, and 20 years from now?

write down your answers, because it will help you get more intentional.

Create a vision for the future – something good, life-giving, and God honoring, that you can attach your desires to.

Vision for the future exercise:

Deep connections through intimate friendships are extraordinary, do you have any deep relationships with wise, content, and “upwards and forward” types of people?

Imagine yourself sometime in the future – don’t worry about the timing. Dream about what the perfect spouse might be like.

  • What is your future dream person like?
  • Do they have a real relationship with the God that causes them to live with their eyes on eternity
  • Do they seek to love God and Love their neighbor as themselves?
  • How are they temperament wise? Are they short tempered?
  • Do they get mad that you get in the way of their weekend pleasure?
  • Do they spend their free time catching a buzz and getting surly with you and your friends?
  • Do they obsess over sex and watch pornography? Or do they obsess about honoring you, having a covenant relationship with you, and keeping their desires locked on you sexually?
  • Did they sleep with anyone else before marriage? Would you hope that they wouldn’t so that they don’t have the videos of past sexual encounters running through their minds all the time? Expecially when they’re being intimate with you?
  • Do they spend time reading books and gaining wisdom from others?
  • Do they live out the principles of the bible such as using their words to be helpful, serving others, humility, kindness, meekness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
  • Are they financially wise? Are they loaded with debt?
  • Have they built professional momentum through education or entreprneeurship?
  • Do they have a sterling reputation? or would they not be the type of person a good parent would avoid letting their children be around?
  • Do they get promotions and have a great reputation for integrity, high moral character, and always doing what’s right?
  • Do they want children? Will they be engaged in the process of teaching, modeling, and parenting your children?
  • Will they encourage you, love you, and never give up on you?
  • Will they take divorce off the table?

Really think about these things, and dream about the type of person this will be. Start listing out the character and morality of this person. Put some words to it, and think of it.

You CAN find the perfect person… well kind of

2 – The One Year Love & Sex Challenge: Become the Person your Future Dream Person will be Looking for

Commit to at least one year of honoring God by not dating, not hooking up, not going to the bars, and just trying to honor God.

There’s no such thing as the perfect person, but you can find the spouse that can help you fulfill a God-honoring vision for the future.

How can you find this person? By becoming the type of person this fictitious person would be attracted to.

One of my favorite speakers, Andy Stanley, has one of the most amazing teaching series called “The new rules for love sex and dating.” In it, he tells the testimony of one of the members of their church as it concerned dating, sex, and marriage.

This gal went down the life route that we hear so often for guys and girls. She got involved with some pretty serious dating relationships in high school which lead to fooling around, which slowly moved the boundary markers further and further with each relationship. Pretty soon, she was deeply involved sexually with her boyfriends until she found one that she thought was going to last. They fell deeply in love, but he was not a follower of Jesus and their relationship was not one that her parents or a pastor would condone. That relationship ended in an ugly way, leaving her broken.

When that relationship ended, she was left scarred, empty, and angry. She had already been enjoying the party scene, getting drunk, smoking a little weed, and enjoying the “girls nights out” with her old college friends.

Girls night out had a new meaning when she was single and had no guardrails in terms of sexual standards. She would go out every weekend, get wasted at the bars, and end up with all sorts of different guys throughout the year.

This lead to lots of regrets. In her mind, she built up an argument that it was totally fine, that this was a liberating experience for her as a woman, and that she ought to be able to do this.

The affections of the guys were intoxicating, almost as much as the vodka.

She was running on empty.

Then one day, a friend invited her to come to church. Over the period of a year or so, she started to make some huge changes in her life, and that’s when she heard about the ONE YEAR CHALLENGE.

The One Year Sex & Dating Challenge.

She heard about the one year challenge, where you commit to not sleeping around, dating, or getting involved with anyone for a full year. Go cold turkey, and be pure for one year, and ask God to bless it.

Honor God in your love, sex, and dating life for a year, and see what happens.

This gal accepted the challenge, and momentum started to build in her spiritual life. She started to notice that her desire was to live in a way that honored God, and that living in a God honoring manner, meant that she was a better friend, a better employee, a better student, and an overall better person.

Living in a God honoring way improves your professional, personal, and relational life.

Your Dream Guy or Girl – are you what they’ll be interested in?

One day while at church with her mom, she bumped into a super-hot guy. She happened to remember this guy from a long time ago in high school, and remembered that he was known as a follower of Christ, of integrity, character, and being a great student. He was “gorgeous”, and about as close to “perfect” as she could imagine.

Her and her mom spent some time talking to him, and it seemed like the last 10 years were authentically filled with nothing but an increase of all the God-honoring characteristics that he was known for in high school.

Guys like that, don’t date girls like you.

The gal was smitten, and super excited at the prospect that she found her dream spouse. She asked her mom what she thought, and her mom just laughed at her and said:

“Honey, guys like him don’t date girls like you”

That seemed harsh to her, until she sat down and thought of all the baggage she would have to explain to him if she desired any level of authenticity and transparency. She realized that while he was sexually pure, she probably couldn’t even list some of the men’s names she had encounters with.

She realized that while she was out partying and living vicariously, he had been working hard in pursuing the life-giving characteristics of a God honoring man.

He had educated himself, and become a remarkable type of person that she would have really wanted to be able to have in her life. But it was true, he would not be interested in dating her because she was not the type of person, and did not have to type of reputation, that he would hitch his life to.

We all make mistakes, and God promises that we go through trials so that we can help others on the other side. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we would all go back and convinced our younger selves to commit to the disciplines that build momentum in life.

3 – Live in a way that builds momentum rather than regrets

I don’t regret anything – but only because regrets are unhelpful. If we’re honest, if we could coach our younger self to execute on the things that build momentum in life, we’d all do it.

Mistakes are part of life, and they’re like the tuition you pay for education.  But education doesn’t need to come at such an expense, because God’s word provides us with a path to living in a manner that causes wholeness and goodness.

The Bible  teaches us that we go through trials and brokenness for a God-ordained purpose, but does that mean that it’s perfectly acceptable to sin and dishonor God? NO!

It’s darn foolish to head into life and live in a manner that creates hurt, regrets, and baggage. Our irresponsibility will become someone else’s responsibility in the moment, and it becomes our baggage for the future.

Jesus will forgive us, and set us free from the wages of our sin when we place our faith and trust in Him. When we allow God to transform us, we will be given new desires, and the power to live in a God-honoring manner, which builds momentum in life.

“For it is God at work within you, both to WILL and WORK for His good pleasure.”

God is the one who will give us the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.  We just need to continually seek it from Him, ask for it, and pursue it.

What if we just don’t want to be a slave to obedience? What if we think we should have just enough God to keep us out of the ditch, but not so much that we can’t enjoy life? What if we simply do not care about being anything more than “average” in holiness?

It took me far too long to become a man that desires to honor God in every aspect of my life. It’s taken far too long for my desires to get adjusted so that I will obey God.

I now have a vision for my future, which was given to me by the word of God.

God’s Vision for Life:

I am going to stand in front of my creator the second after I die. I will then be judged according to God’s law, and His promise that my faith in Christ Will ensure a not guilty ruling. After finding that I am not guilty because of what Christ has done, everything I do will be exposed and I will be graded according to how I worked for Him.

I want to stand before God, and have Him say “well done, good and faithful servant.”

But my life is filled with disobedience which I will have to account for during that portion of my examination. He will reward me on earth, and in heaven, for my own obedience and the fruit that’s been produced in my life through God.

For without faith it is impossible to please God. But to honor God, one must believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who seek Him.

So to conclude, if you find yourself asking “is it sin to date a non Christian?” I’d much rather you work on developing a Vision Worth latching your desires to, commit to some small wins like the “one year challenge”, and then eventually pursue deeper obedience by working together with God to develop the power and the desire to please Him.

All that being said, I would highly discourage anyone who wants to honor God, from getting  involved in the dating scene, the party scene, the drinking scene, the too-much-video game scene, the gluttony scene, or anything else that can become an idol.  Keep away from idols and sin.

Nothing will influence your life more then your choices around love, sex, and dating.

 

This one statement summarizes what it takes to have a succesfull marriage from Danny Silk

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“I’ve decided to make my relationship with you more important to me than any issue, problem, or disagreement.”

www.lovingonpurpose.com 

Why prayers go unanswered, 6 Prayer busters from Bill Hybel’s “Too Busy Not to Pray”

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6 prayer busters bill hybels
6 prayer busters bill hybels

Christianity is primarily about having a relationship with the God of the universe. He invites us to be reconciled to Him by placing our faith and trust in Jesus Christ to atone for the guilt of our sin. Faith is quite simple – but it’s not always easy.

While God has created the vastness of the cosmos, He is also personally invested in being our heavenly father. He loves us, and He wants us to be His children – and He wants to have a dialogue with us. We talk to God through prayer, and He talks to us through His Holy Spirit, the Bible, other disciples of Jesus, Teachers, and many other ways. Prayer is a very important part of our relationship with Him.

Prayer is meant to be such an important part of our lives, that Jesus took great care to model prayer to the disciples and people around Him. He never did a miracle which wasn’t brought before God the father through obedient prayer, and He often broke away from the crowds to quietly pray. Jesus was fully man, did not sin, and yet was God – and He prayed a ton!

Jesus showed us how to model our prayers through the Lord’s prayer and He also specifically prayed for us in

John 17:20

“My prayer is not for [the disciples] alone, but for everyone who will believe through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” That’s right! Jesus prayed for all of us that would believe – each of us specifically.

When we pray – Jesus told us that if we have tremendous faith, we would be able to move mountains and that everything that we ask, according to His will, would then be done. But many of us are met with unanswered prayers, or an obstacle in our movement towards something good. I’ve been reading Bill Hybels book “Too Busy Not to Pray” and He suggests that there seems to be 6 prayer busters that hinder our prayers.

6 Prayer Busters that Hinder our Prayers

1 – Prayerlessness

Have you brought the most important things in your life to God in prayer? Has it been fervent, regular, and over a long period of time?

Take a moment to reflect on this idea:

How many prayers were prayed for you over the last 24 hours? How about for your spouse, marriage, hell-bound friend, or family member? Are there at least 10 prayers “stored up” for a person over the last week? I get nervous when I think about how often my prayers fall utterly short of a “good college try.”

When we are consistently, regularly, and fervently bringing our requests to God, we usually have little to worry about.

I found that a little exercise can shed light on how adequate my prayer has been. List out the things in life that you hope God blesses, or that you want to bring in line with the will of God – now estimate how many times over the last week you’ve actually prayed for it.

For some reason, the comfort of American life tends to discourage us from really engaging in the type of prayer that God hopes for us.

This isn’t meant to cause you to feel guilty about not saying enough prayers, I actually want you to see that maybe the core behavior in your life, that God want’s you to show your faith through, is simply to pray.

God wants us to come to Him in prayer because He wants to unleash His goodness on us. Jesus told a parable about this in

Luke 11:11, and Matthew 7:10; Here’s what He said:

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11“Which of you fathers, if your son asks forf a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!””

God’s saying that if we just ask Him, He will help us!

2 – Unconfessed Sin

God said through the prophet Isaiah, in about the 7th century BC to the nation of Israel, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that He will not hear.”

There’s something interesting about deliberate sin. Think about this, you believe that there is a God who has told you to obey Him. You find out that there’s something in your heart, life, or mind that God finds abhorrent – which is what He finds all sin. You then feel guilt about this sin in your life, and rather than working with God to put an end to it, you look Him in the eye and deliberately disobey Him. There is nothing you do that can separate yourself from God’s love, and there is nothing that He won’t forgive, but remember that forgiveness comes from confession & repentance in the case of deliberate sins. When we deliberately decide to excuse our behavior and not address it – then there’s a big problem.

Now I’m not saying that our sinlessness is what makes us right with God, I’m only talking about consistent, deliberate sin, like ongoing drunkenness, pornography, drug use, profanity, greed, lying, relational strife, un-forgiveness, cruelty, or anything else that God has revealed to you as sin, your conscience knows it’s wrong, and you hide it.

If we have placed our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, the areas of our lives which are not obedient to Him causes us to languish. Remember, there are two parts to our Christian faith, being justified ONCE through our faith in Christ and then being transformed into he likeness of Christ through sanctification. That means we get saved, and then we slowly become more holy as God works on us. So when we’ve been saved, God will transform us by helping close the gap between Jesus’ life and our own.

Unconfessed sin is definitely a prayer buster – so I’d encourage you to honestly asses your life and heart about any sin that needs to be addressed.

Here are some verses about deliberately sinning:

Hebrews 10:26

“For if we go on sinning deliberately, after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin but a fearful expectation of judgement, and a fury of fire which consumes the adversaries.

James 4:17

“For whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

1 John 3:4

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

1 Corinthians 10:13

“The temptations you face in this life are no different than what others experience, and God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation you face be more than you can handle, and when you are tempted, He will show you a way out so you can endure”

Galatians 5:24

“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passion and desires.”

Romans 6:16

“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

Matthew 5:48

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

1 John 1:9

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

3 – Broken Relationships

Jesus taught us that we shouldn’t pursue other spiritual things until we’ve authentically taken bona-fide steps to reconcile with broken relationships. If we’ve stubbornly refused to forgive, ask forgiveness, or reconcile a relationship – that’s something which will hinder our prayers. Look at these two principles. One form Jesus directly and another from someone who learned directly from Him:

1 Peter 3:7

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

Matthew 5:23-24

““Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”

The bottom line, taking an authentic look at your efforts to reconcile your relationships is helpful to ensure your prayers aren’t hindered. While not every relationship can be reconciled, it’s super important to make sure you’ve taken responsibility to do everything that’s your responsibility in each relationship.

4 – Selfishness

What is God’s desire for all of humanity? What is His desire for the people around you? What is God’s desire for your life? When you read up on God’s will for people and earth, you’ll see that’s it not for everyone to be as comfortable, care-free, and rich as possible.

In fact, the things that grow our faith, draw us closer to Him, and help us fulfill His plans are usually opposite of a comfortable existence. Loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and loving our neighbor as ourselves doesn’t happen in selfish comfort. In fact, helping justice, mercy, and humility spread across the world requires us to be stretched and challenged rather than sit within comfort.

Am I praying selfish prayers? Are the subject of my desires and prayers solely focused on me?

Christ came not to be served, but to serve. When our prayers are all about ourselves, perhaps our requests to God will become stifled because God wants us to adjust our motivations, desires, and concerns.

Remember that we are taught that “love is not self-seeking”, and that we are not to do “anything from selfish ambition or conceit,” which shows us that we need to have a love and care for our neighbor.

5 – Uncaring attitudes

Jesus taught us that the way to inherit eternal life is to Love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Jesus affirmed this teaching in Luke 10:25-37, and then reveals through a parable “who our neighbors are” through a parable about a good Samaritan.

If you don’t remember the story, its about a jewish man gets attacked by robbers on a path. A couple of Jewish holy people come by and ignore the man in his plight but then a despised and political adversary stops and takes pity on him.

I think thats a critical sentence in that story, and it shows us how our hearts are to be geared. When we see people, God wants us to take pity on people and to care for them. If we are filled with an uncaring attitude about people or the kingdom of God, then our prayers are bound to be out of alignment with God’s will.

When we cultivate our care for people, by trying to expand our love, we act more like God the father did.

God taught us through His word a couple of attitudes that we should embrace, particularly about caring for people and souls.

God said that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a lost sheep – and the shepherd relentlessly takes after to save the sheep. It’s like a lost coin, where you’d turn a house inside out to relentlessly find it. It’s like a father who looks on his rebellious son with compassion, and allows forgiveness.

Our prayer life is stifled and busted when our concern and care is lacking. If you’re having trouble in your prayers, perhaps this is something to consider.

6 – Inadequate faith

God taught us in Hebrews 11:1 that “Faith is the confidence in what we hope for, and the assurance about what we do not see.”

Jesus taught us that the things that are impossible without God are possible with God. (Luke 18:27)

In fact, we’re told that “without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

Do we believe that God will reward us for earnestly seeking Him? Do we also earnestly seek Him?

Is there any other proof of faith than that of fervent and earnest prayer?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do and He will make your pathways straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Do we need much more than that verse? Trust God and seek His will, and He’s promised that He will provide for you.

If we’re not trusting God with all our heart, then it would seem that we’re trusting our own understanding, which would perhaps be a hinderance to our prayers.

Remember, God knows what’s best for us, just like a good father would know what’s best for his children. “The LORD disciplines those he loves and he punishes each on he accepts as his child.” (Hebrews 12:6)

This verse means that because God loves us, perhaps his punishment is letting a prayer go unanswered so that we go through trials. The brother of Jesus, James, taught us that we ought to:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” (James 1:2-4)

Maturing in anything, whether it’s spiritually, mentally, or even physically, involves the breaking down of the old and building up with the new. Just like a muscle, stresses will cause micro tears which provide the space to build new muscles. Just like this, trails cause us to build anew.

If we’re not confident in God, then He wants us to become confident in Him, draw closer to Him, rely on Him, and know that He is God.

So if you’re prayer life is stifled a bit, perhaps wrap your mind around how much you actually trust God. How strong is your faith in His promises? What doubts might He want you to push into and investigate about? Where might you have deficiencies of knowledge or obedience where He might want you to develop?

CONCLUSION:

I’ve found to prayers that have helped me greatly and I talk about them lots on this blog. They are two Psalms that are critical in submitting to God to allow Him to step into the gaps where we lack.

Pray these so that God will help you:

Psalm 139:23-24
“search me and know me. Test me, and know my anxious thoughts (where I don’t trust you or have faith), point out everything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

Psalm 19:12-14
“How can I know the sins lurking within me? Cleanse me from these hidden faults, keep your servant from deliberate sins, don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, Oh Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

These are important because we need to remember that “it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure” (Phillippians 2:13)

This means that we must remember that God is the one who’s going to transform us into the type of people that can do what pleases Him. We need to seek Him diligently in His word and then pray to Him constantly to help us. Confess, give thanks, worship Him, delight in Him, and proclaim Him as the Lord of all!

How to become a better leader in 2017 – start with integrity

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how to be a better leader integrity

I was digging through my Evernote writing today, and I came upon my notes from one of John C. Maxwell’s books or audio cassettes and I had to share it. If you want to become a better leader for 2017, then start with integrity and character!

  • genuine integrity is not for sale

    • the need for integrity today is perhaps as great as it has ever been. And it is absolutely essential for anyone who desires to become a person of influence
  • integrity is about the small things

    • one of the realities of life is that if you can’t trust a person at all points, you cannot truly trust him or her at any point
    • integrity is the quality most needed for success in business
    • integrity commits itself to character over personal gain, to people over things, to service over power, to people over convenience, to the long view over the immediate
    • character is not created in a crisis, it only comes to light thenintegrity is an inside job
      • integrity is not determined by circumstances
        • your circumstances are as responsible for your character as a mirror is for your looks. What you see in others only reflects what you are
      • integrity is not based on credentials
          • credentials can never accomplish what character can
        • credentials:
          • Credentials are transient, they turn the focus to rights — they add value to only one person — look to past accomplishments — often evoke jealously in others — can only get you in the door
        • character
          • Character is permanent — keeps the focus on responsibilities — adds value to many people — build a legacy for the future — generates respect and integrity — keeps you there
      • integrity is not to be confused with reputation
        • a good name is more desirable than great riches — a good reputation exists because it is a reflection of a person’s character
        • if a good reputation is like gold, then having integrity is like owning the mine.
        • If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself
      • Questions to help you measure your integrity:

        • how well do I treat people from whom I can gain nothing?
        • Am I transparent with others?
        • do I role-play based on the persons I’m with?
        • am I the same person when I’m in the spotlight as I am alone?
        • do I quickly admit wrongdoing without being pressed to do so?
        • do I put other people ahead of my personal agenda?
        • do I have an unchanging standard for moral decisions, or do circumstances determine my choices?
        • do I make difficult decisions, even when they have personal cost attached to them?
        • when I have something to say about people, do I talk to them or about them?
      • many succeed momentarily by what they know, some succeed temporarily by what they do, but the few succeed permanently by what they are
      • integrity is your best friend
        • no man can, for any considerable time, wear one face to himself and another to the multitudes without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one.
        • anytime you compromise your integrity, you do yourself an incredible amount of damage
        • integrity will never betray you or put you in a compromising position
        • it keeps your priorities right
        • keeps you from taking shortcuts
        • when others criticize you unfairly, it helps you keep going and take the high road of not striking back. And when others criticism is valid, integrity helps you to accept what they say, learn from it, and keep growing.
      • Integrity is your friend’s best friend
        • a person of integrity influences others because he wants to bring something to the table that will benefit them — not put them on the table to benefit himself
      • the benefit of integrity: trust

        • trust is the single most important factor in personal and professional relationships
        • trust comes from others only when you exemplify solid character
        • character is made in the small moments of our lives
        • you need to develop the following qualities of integrity and live them out every day:
          • model consistency of character — solid trust can develop only when people can trust you all the time. If they never know from moment to moment what you’re going to do, the relationship will never deep into a confident level of trust.
          • Employ honest communication — to be trustworthy, you have to be like a good musical composition; your words and music must match
          • value transparency — people eventually find out about your flaws, even if you try to hide them. But if you’re honest with people and admit your weaknesses, they will appreciate your honesty and integrity. And they will be able to relate to you better.
          • Exemplify humility. — People won’t trust if they see that you are driven by Eagle, jealousy, or the belief that you are better than they are
          • Demonstrate your support of others — nothing develops her displeasure character better than your desire to put others first. As zig zig Lahr says, help enough other people to succeed, and you will succeed also
          • Fulfill your promises — never promised anything you can deliver. And when you say you’ll do something follow through on its. A sure way to break trust with others is to fail to fulfill your commitments
          • Embrace an attitude of service — we have been put on this earth not to be served, but to serve. Giving of yourself and your time to others shows that you care about them.: The service we render to others is really the rent we pay for our room on this earth. People of integrity are givers not takers
          • Encourage two-way participation with the people you influence — when you live a life of integrity, people listen to you and follow you. Always remember that the goal of influence is not manipulation; it’s participation. Only as you include others in your life and success do you permanently succeed.
        • People really know you when they see you interact with a child, when your car has a flat tire, when the boss is away, and when they think no one will ever know.
      • The benefit of trust: influence

        • those who want power probably shouldn’t have it, those who enjoy it probably do so for the wrong reasons, and those who want most to hold on to it, don’t understand that it’s only temporary.
        • Abraham Lincoln said: nearly all men can stand adversity but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power
        • there is but one just use the power and it is to serve people
        • to keep your ambition and check in the focus of your influence on helping and serving others, periodically ask yourself this question: if the whole world followed me, would it be a better world?
      • Become a person of integrity
        • commit yourself to honesty, reliability, and confidentiality
        • decide ahead of time that you don’t have a price tag
        • major in the minor things of life
        • each day, do what you should do before you do what you want to do
          • everybody ought to do at least two things each day that he hates to do, just for the practice
          • slaves is the right term to describe people who lack integrity because they often find themselves at the whim of their own and others’ changing desires
          • it is always easy to do right when you know ahead of time what you stand for

Influence checklist: having integrity with people

  • commit yourself to developing strong character. In the past, have you made it a practice to take full responsibility for your cared for? It’s something that you need to do in order to become a person of influence. Set aside the negative experiences you have had, including difficult circumstances and people who have hurt you. Forget about your credentials or the reputation he built over the years. Strip all that away, and look at what’s left if you don’t see solid integrity in yourself, make the commitment to change today.
  • I commit myself to being a person of character. Truth, reliability, honesty and confidentiality will be the pillars of my life. I will treat others as I expect to be treated. I love according to the highest standards of integrity amid all of life’s circumstances.
  • Do the little things. Spend the next week carefully monitoring your character habits. Take a note of yourself each time you do any of the following: — don’t tell the whole truth — neglect of the Philip commitment, whether it’s promised or implied — even assignment uncompleted — talk about something that you might have been expected to keep in confidence
  • do what you should do before you do what you want. Every day this week, find two items on your to-do list that you should do but that you have been putting off. Complete those testy for doing anything on the list that you enjoy

Praying this Psalm revolutionized my life in 2016

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Praying this Psalm helped my life a ton

2016 was a great year for me and my family. I gained back much of the momentum that had puttered out from 2013’s abrupt exit from working in ministry.

I was wrestling down sins in my life, trying to gain more self control, and being filled with regret each time I’d fail in any way.

I found myself reeling from guilt from some habitual sin, and my daily confessions to God were sounding quite irresponsible.

“God, just like two days ago, I again need forgiveness for x,y,z.  I’m so sorry – I know my sin is wicked and grave, help me!”

Then I came upon a Psalm one day, that  was a perfect fit for my dilemma. I memorized it, and started praying it multiple times a day out loud.

“how can I know all the sins lurking inside me? Cleanse me from these hidden faults, keep your servant from deliberate sins – don’t let them control me! Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you oh Lord my rock and my redeemer!” Psalm 19:12-14

Something started to change in my life that day. I really felt like God would send in the reinforcements after I would pray this. When I added some external accountability in the form of a small group, that’s when some breakthroughs truly occurred.

I want to encourage you that daily praying this Psalm, in an authentic way, can start to change your heart and life. I hope it helps you as much as it did me.

Fault dwelling: the love killer

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We have a choice when it comes to our friends, family and acquaintances; either to dwell on their faults or to forgive them and see them with a clean slate every day.

Looking at your best friend, sibling or parent with a clean slate everyday can seem rediculously hard, but we need to aspire to it because that’s how Jesus has loved us.

Proverbs 17:9 says “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.”

When I keep score and dwell on the faults of my best friend, brother, spouse and kids, my mood and spirit are impacted in a negative way.

This timeless price of advice is so true in my life, and I wanted to share this verse because of how prominent I think it is.

We can all really brighten the world around us when we extend grace to people, and not dwell on their faults.  Jesus lead the way and set the standard to shoot for in living – and it’s incredibly counter-intuitive.

Don’t retaliate evil for evil, don’t be concerned for your own good, do nothing from selfish ambition, and you must be “last” in order to be first.

I’m telling you, the bible is filled with the most practical and helpful principles you’ll ever read.  If your not reading it and trying to learn from it, you’re missing out on some of the most common sense stuff in life.

Start out by reading one chapter of proverbs a day – the same chapter of the day of the week you’re in.  Then read a chapter of something else.

How just “catching a buzz” let drunkenness get a foothold in my life & how God used my small group to set me free.

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To Catch a Buzz

I woke up with a startle. The alcohol was still on my breath, and my eyes were a bit bedazzled from being dry and dealing with my groggy head. I’d done it again – a totally controlled week of “catching a late-night buzz” that had started a week earlier after a month of sobriety. I’d had about a month of avoiding my somewhat-secret little buzz catching habit, up until a friend offered me a taste of his homemade alcoholic cider – which I obliged and drank the whole glass. That little compromise was all I needed to convince myself it would be really enjoyable to get some delicious, hops-filled IPA beer to enjoy, which lead to grabbing a “pre-gaming bottle of vodka.” and for a week, I found myself quietly drinking in my house, all to myself.

I wasn’t getting crazy, wasn’t hopping mean or violent, I was actually pretty functional. The problem is that deep down I knew that “enjoying alcohol” wasn’t God’s plan for my life, and that I had justified compromising on this vice which I knew I had no business allowing back into my life because of my track record. I knew I needed to stop, but I had justified it as “enjoying life,” and I knew the biblical and moral arguments concerning the moderate use of alcohol. The bottom line is that I don’t moderately use alcohol, I really like to get buzzed, which takes a whopping amount of alcohol for me because of my size and tolerance.

I wanted to quit, but alcohol had weaseled it’s way back into my life, and I was actually having more trouble quitting again than I would have imagined. I had gone not-a-drop for a number of years and then jumped off the wagon for only about a year and a half.  I had decided that it would be alright to just enjoy some alcohol, but that faded into my ever-so-familiar pursuit of catching a buzz; which is like chasing the rabbit down the hole for me – I’m never satisfied.  My chasing a buzz means I gulp at it, and my old demon is always there to help spur me just an inch deeper everytime I’d get on the buzz-hunt.

But that morning, as I opened my eyes from sleeping – I had an unmistakable urge & heard an inaudible voice, “Now it’s time to stop drinking”. I had heard the similar voice of my conscience, again and again over the last 17 years, but this voice was different, it was more external and not my own.

Addicts casually repent of their decisions often, usually in response to the pain of a hangover or some other regret, only to find themselves back at it when the slightest “reason” presents itself. But this call to repentance was a bit different, I was feeling the nudge of what I would describe as the Holy spirit, urging my mind & soul that it was time to quit, so I nodded my head & prayed a bit before heading into the shower.

I’ve learned to never trust in myself – because I personally don’t conquer my demons, it’s only by the grace and power of Christ that I’ve been able to break my slavery to sin. I’ve found that my old ways are always crouching at the peripheral of life, waiting to try and devour me. I guess that’s just temptation, and although my faith and trust is fully placed in Christ, satan comes around ever so often to lay an attack upon me, just like how a lion will occasionally take a go at the herd to see if there’s an opportunity. The temptation in my life is no different from what others experience, it’s either lust, addiction, pleasure or pride. I know that I’m not a slave to it, but i also know that my life retains the scars & consequence of my past sin. Life’s hard enough that none of us need the crippling damage of sin plaguing us.

Not only had alcohol laid it’s hands on the flywheel of momentum in my life, but it was openning me up to attack.  I was grappling with depression and a bit of torment, a curse of  lies that I was hearing in my mind.  I was having thoughts that I would never be able to get physically fit and live a successful sober life, and that I would just stumble my way towards an early death which would leave my daughters fatherless. Strangely, this wasn’t so much as a fear, but a lie being whispered to me whenever I was at a diminished capacity; which lead to dispair.

After my shower, I sat down at my computer to get through some emails, but I could feel my spirit surging with determination, so I looked up “how to know if you’re an alcoholic”, and I stumbled upon a very interesting set of questions on the Alcoholic Anonymous website.

Find out if you’re an alcoholic:

I read through them and found that nearly each one was a yes, which meant that I really did have a problem.

  1. Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but only lasted for a couple of days?
    Most of us in A.A. made all kinds of promises to ourselves and to our families. We could not keep them. Then we came to A.A. A.A. said: “Just try not to drink today.” (If you do not drink today, you cannot get drunk today.)
    Yes No
  2. Do you wish people would mind their own business about your drinking– stop telling you what to do?
    In A.A. we do not tell anyone to do anything. We just talk about our own drinking, the trouble we got into, and how we stopped. We will be glad to help you, if you want us to.
    Yes No
  3. Have you ever switched from one kind of drink to another in the hope that this would keep you from getting drunk?
    We tried all kinds of ways. We made our drinks weak. Or just drank beer. Or we did not drink cocktails. Or only drank on weekends. You name it, we tried it. But if we drank anything with alcohol in it, we usually got drunk eventually.
    Yes No
  4. Have you had to have an eye-opener upon awakening during the past year?
    Do you need a drink to get started, or to stop shaking? This is a pretty sure sign that you are not drinking “socially.”
    Yes No
  5. Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble?
    At one time or another, most of us have wondered why we were not like most people, who really can take it or leave it.
    Yes No
  6. Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year?
    Be honest! Doctors say that if you have a problem with alcohol and keep on drinking, it will get worse — never better. Eventually, you will die, or end up in an institution for the rest of your life. The only hope is to stop drinking.
    Yes No
  7. Has your drinking caused trouble at home?
    Before we came into A.A., most of us said that it was the people or problems at home that made us drink. We could not see that our drinking just made everything worse. It never solved problems anywhere or anytime.
    Yes No
  8. Do you ever try to get “extra” drinks at a party because you do not get enough?
    Most of us used to have a “few” before we started out if we thought it was going to be that kind of party. And if drinks were not served fast enough, we would go some place else to get more.
    Yes No
  9. Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking any time you want to, even though you keep getting drunk when you don’t mean to?
    Many of us kidded ourselves into thinking that we drank because we wanted to. After we came into A.A., we found out that once we started to drink, we couldn’t stop.
    Yes No
  10. Have you missed days of work or school because of drinking?
    Many of us admit now that we “called in sick” lots of times when the truth was that we were hung-over or on a drunk.
    Yes No
  11. Do you have “blackouts”?
    A “blackout” is when we have been drinking hours or days which we cannot remember. When we came to A.A., we found out that this is a pretty sure sign of alcoholic drinking.
    Yes No
  12. Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you did not drink?
    Many of us started to drink because drinking made life seem better, at least for a while. By the time we got into A.A., we felt trapped. We were drinking to live and living to drink. We were sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I was an alcoholic for sure, and I felt God’s spirit, my intellect, and my spirit compelling me with urgency that it was time to stop.

Friday, Saturday, and Church on Sunday morning came and went – then I found myself at our scheduled small group on Sunday evening.

Our small group was pretty new, having only met about 4 times. The week before I had skipped group because I was “under the weather.”

Because of the newness of the group, there had been a pretty low level of authenticity and intimacy when we’d discuss things. We had just started with our canned responses to the weekly questions, when suddenly, one of the questions ignited inside me an urge to confess and repent of my “buzz-catching habit.”

The message at Church had been on the “Wide and the Narrow Road”, teaching disciples of Christ that “broad” is the path to destruction, and “narrow” is the path of Christ.

The question was:

“Share about a time when you followed the crowd or a recent trend. What made you want to jump on board? What makes the wide road appealing to some?”

My spirit throbbed with compulsion, yet that feeling had came and went before, always replaced by my inner voice saying “it’s ok, you’re not that bad, you’ll be quitting soon anyways. Besides, you don’t need to ruin your reputation by sharing this with other people, don’t embarrass yourself.”

I know I’m not alone here. I know you’ve done it a hundred times as well. You’ll have a prompting of your conscience, and rather than take true action on it by confessing to other people, repenting to God and others, and getting true accountability for it; you’ll pass over it and chalk-up another one that you’ll “fix on your own.”

The group leader asked the question, and then the “new-group-akward pause” happened – and I couldn’t stand it anymore.

In spite of my dark side whispering to keep hiding the sin, I spoke up and started telling them that I wanted to quit drinking, that I had justified it, and that I was having trouble quitting.

The group responded remarkably. My now good friend Andrew, a man of tremendous moral character and wisdom, moved in on my sin and confronted me about it gently. He then asked if it was something I’d like them to help hold me accountable with, to which we all agreed.

What’s weird is that I had intellectually understood that repentance is amplified when you confess and repent to a group of soul-bound fellow believers, but my inner voice had caused me to “punt” on the opportunity to confess in an accountable relationship every time.

Sobriety was a breeze from that moment on, that small group supernaturally changing my life!

Four Things I’ve Learned about the Power of Biblically Functioning Community or “Small Groups.”

1 – God moves with overwhelming power when disciples practice group confession, prayer, and support.

The brother of Jesus teaches believers the importance of being in a group of fellow believers and praying for each other. James 5:16 says “Confess your sins to each other & pray for one another. For the earnest prays of a righteous person have great power and produce wonderful results.”

“Confess your sins to each other & pray for one another. For the earnest prays of a righteous person have great power and produce wonderful results.”

Jesus also said that “whenever two or more are gathered in His name, He would be there with us.” Which means God has promised that there will be a compounding affect on our lives when believers are participating in biblical functioning community.

God has promised that there will be a compounding affect on our lives when believers are participating in biblical functioning community

I’m emphatic: nothing can get you un-stuck from your sin better than a biblically functioning small group of believers. God’s power is manifest when the hearts of a group of men and women resonate with His Holy Spirit towards moving together toward holiness.

nothing can get you un-stuck from your sin better than a biblically functioning small group of believers.

2 – We owe it to each other to confront sin, hold each other accountable, and warn each other.

There are two sections in Hebrews and one in Jude that I think should compel people to get into small groups, and make it the business of each other to work in harmony to live a life which honors God in all aspects. In other words, we need to support and help each other get better at living in obedience, just like a member of an athletics team or something.

The first one is In Hebrews 10:22

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?

  • Stir up one another to acts of good works and love.
  • Don’t neglect meeting together.
  • Encourage one another.
  • Because if we go on sinning deliberately, we’ll live in fear of judgement and not in the joy of Christ.
  • The law of Moses is fulfilled and a new covenant has been made now between God and man – that through Christ you can be reconciled to God; how bad would the punishment be if we cheapened and profaned the magnificent thing Jesus did for us?

The second section I really like is in Hebrews 3:13, which says

“[as believers] you must exhort each other everyday [about sin] while it’s still considered ’today’ [in the moment, right away] , so that you will not be deceived by sin and have your hearts hardened against God

  • Take action and exhort your brothers and sisters in Christ about their sin, or they’ll get deceived about it and experience a chasm between them and God.

The ESV version says it this way:

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”

The third is in Jude 1:20-24

“But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.
And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.

  • build up each other’s faith
  • help each other live holy lives
  • pray in the power of the Holy Spirit
  • Show MERCY to people who’s faith is wavering
  • Hate sin but rescue people who are heading towards hell because of their sin & unbelief

These verses seem to imply that believers should be committed to each other to spur each other along towards maturing in our faith and growing in obedience to Christ’s promises and commands.

3 – Hiding and keeping sin in the dark amplifies the power of sin & shame

Proverbs 28:13 says

“He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.”

When we realize that we are sinning, we need to stop it, and God will show us compassion.

Look at what John said in 1 John 1:5-10

“This is the message we have heard from Jesus and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

  • If we claim we’re in fellowship with Jesus – Loving Him – and yet walk in the darkness, we’re lying to ourselves and aren’t living a true faith.
  • But if we confess our sins,He will cleanse us.
  • There is some sort of relationship between these activities and fellowship amongst brothers and sisters in Christ; implying we should be doing this within the context of authentic and caring relationships.
  • Walking in the light will seems to result in some sort of fellowship with one another – which empowers confession.

So allowing our lives to be shrouded by darkness by hiding our sin messes things up.

What’s really hard is confessing how much we lust, look at porn, yell at our spouses, cheat, lie, and hide hatred. There are so many sins that are just down-right embarrassing. But God is faithful and just to forgive us, and to CLEANSE us from this unrighteousness – which is a promise that I think will be delivered on even on this side of heaven by cleaning our life up and walking in the light. God will allow our reputation to be re-built as we show that we are worthy of trust and we walk in the light – with integrity.

But again, Paul encourages us about the importance of getting rid of the sin in our lives:

Romans 13:12-14

“The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.

  • Remove dark deeds like dirty clothes
  • Put on the shining armor of right living
  • live decent lives for all to see
  • Don’t participate in the darkness
    • Wild Parties
    • Drunkenness
    • Sexual Promiscuity
    • Quarreling
    • Jealousy
    • Immoral living

That list is like a modern Pop song……

4 – We need to wage war against the enemy of temptation and sin – using the full armor of God.

It’s been turned into something really cheezy in Christian circles, but Paul illustrates the necessary virtues and tools of a fully-orbed and mature faith with armor.  We’re going to be attacked, we need to do battle, the devil prowls about like a lion ready to consume us, we will face trouble and temptation, we’re depraved at heart and on our own even our best good works are dirty rags; Paul shows us how to live and take action.

Ephesians 6:10-18

  • The helmet of salvation
  • The sword of the Spirit – the word of God
  • The breastplate of righteousness – living rightly
  • The belt of truth
  • The shoes of the gospel of peace
  • The shield of faith

The idea here is that we combat the enemies attacks of “fiery arrows” by living a life where you are:

Saved, using God’s word to combat, being confident in God’s promises, allowing truth to hold everything together, and walking peacefully as you spread the good news.

What I notice is that I definitely came under attack while diminished – which is interesting that my “breastplate of righteousness” was what was missing.  This means I was not protected from the attacks and I started to hear the whispers, curses and lies of the enemy; which caused despair.

Conclusion:

I really hope that every disciple of Jesus will WORK HARD at getting themselves surrounded by believers and living out the “one-another” verses in the Bible.  This isn’t just about having those “2 a.m. friends” that you can really rely on, but it’s about having a group of people that allow you to live out the promises God has made in his word.

There are giant sections of scripture that we ignore and disobey if we are not in a biblically functioning small group of other believers, spurring each other along towards acts of good works and love; while confessing sin to and praying for each other.

I believe being part of a Church – large or small – is an incomplete attempt to do what the scripture is saying here.  We need to have 2-5 same-sex people that will dig in to spur each other along towards fulfilling the full potential of our discipleship of Jesus.  So if you’re part of a congregation of 25, or 25,000 – I insist that you put in the somewhat annoying, time-intensive, and initially awkward work of getting in a group and creating the context where this stuff can happen.

It worked for me, and it can work for you.

Eagle Brook Church Small Group Finder Link:

Eagle Brook Church Small Groups

Bethlehem Baptist Small Group Finder:

Bethlehem Baptist Small Group Finder

Hosanna Church Small Group Finder:

Hosanna Church Small Group Finder

Eagle Brook Church Small Group Resources: RightNow Media:

Eagle brook Church has paid for a Rightnow media account for all their small groups.  This is like the netflix of the Church bible study world; and if you click the link below you can get your own account…. and it’s already paid for!

Eagle Brook Church rightnow media

Five amazing Hip Hop musicians to listen to rather than meaningless garbage

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Trip Lee – Hip Hop

Trip Lee Itunes
Trip Lee Itunes

 

Tedashii Hip Hop

 

Tedashii hip hop itunes

 

This’l Hip Hop

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-10-30-11-am

Andy Mineo Hip Hop

Andy Mineo Itunes

Lecrae Hip Hop

Lecrae itunes

Should you cut your losses and quit if sports are pulling you far from God? I should have!

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I was once known as a bad-ass football player; people knew me as being the big football player from Lakeville High School. After six months of playing as a redshirt freshman on Northern Illinois University’s football team, I dropped out and came home. I wasn’t mature, my priorities were completely flawed, and I lived my life where wickedness and foolishness converge.

Rob Satrom Football Lakeville 1999-2000 #73
Rob Satrom Football Lakeville 1999-2000 #73

When I dropped out and came back to Lakeville, my coaches from NIU called my old high school coaches to let them know that I was toxic goods, a failure, and had totally screwed up my life because of partying. I was so saddened by my failures, every night I had nightmares filled with despair, anger, and embarrassment. For a while, it seemed that I was worthless, and I struggled to find an identity other than being a “badass football player.”

For years after returning, I was adrift because I was trying to build my identity and character on things that neither lasted nor honored God.

Now that I read the bible, I can clearly see that my pursuits and desires where what caused my life to spiral out of control. Specifically, a letter written by Jesus’ “best friend,”  John, clarified my struggle.

1 John 2:15

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

I loved the world! My main pursuits consisted of the things listed in this verse:

  • Lust of the flesh – I lived to fill my appetites for the things of this world.
  • Lust of the eyes – I was trying to be seen as a badass
  • Pride of life – I was always trying to puff myself up in comparison to others.

I kept pursuing these things, but they never satisfied and left me less fulfilled than the previous day.

Then one day I heard the good news about Christ again, and accepted a call to repentance; which was the day I began following Christ. Jesus rescued me and broke my slavery to sin, my rebellion, and He reconciled me to Him.

Since that day, I’ve been on a slow and steady pursuit to obey God’s word; which is all about trying to love God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself. I”m trying to grow spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally in order to become more like Christ in humility, servanthood, meekness, kindness, purity, forgiveness, charity, holiness, and grace. It’s a journey filled with ups and downs, because I’m a depraved sinner – in desperate need of daily renewal.

In another post, I told the story about how football became an identity for me in response to bullying.

Recently, I’ve identified that sports were an idol for me, which is too bad because sports are something that could have been such a fun activity to engage in.

If you’re an athlete, I urge you to carefully examine your heart to see if sports have become a context and environment were sinfulness creeps into your life.

If your main concern is to become a badass or to puff yourself up by dominating others, I hope you recognize that it is counter-productive in your pursuit to become more like Christ, and is part of the “broad path” to destruction.

Being a strong man of integrity, humility, and high moral character is much more epic than being a tough-guy.

If sports, and the culture around it, are causing you to be transformed into a person that dishonors God, then I hope you’re not afraid to quit.

That’s right – if the activities of sports and athletics is being converted into self-adoration and puffing up of yourself, I urge you to take measures to remove that from your life; and here’s why:

God doesn’t just dislike our sin, He hates it (Proverbs 6:16-19, Psalm 11:). God also opposes the proud (James 4:6). This means that when we live our life puffing ourselves up and trying to be a tough-guy, which is nothing more than acting antithetical to humility, God opposes us! Our lives are then in opposition to our heavenly father, which causes a great divide between us, and allows destructive thoughts, habits, and even spirits to consume us.

Quitting competitive sports could be totally freeing if it’s causing you to stumble. But I’m not encouraging you to falter on your commitments or to act in a way that’s not steadfast or faithful. I’m just suggesting that if you’re playing sports for your own glory, that the glory you obtain from it is fickle, worthless, fleeting and utterly meaningless.

Bo Jackson – How Meaningless is the Glory of Sports Success?

Bo Jackson 30 of 30 documentary RobSatrom.com
Bo Jackson 30 of 30 documentary RobSatrom.com

I just watched the Netflix ESPN 30 of 30 documentary about Bo Jackson. I’m sure that most of you already know this, but Bo Jackson was an absolute phenom athlete back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, as a duel sport professional. He was one of the biggest, fastest, most menacing running backs in the NFL, while simultaneously being a stellar major league baseball player; no other athlete has had such dominance in two professional sport battlegrounds. He was an icon of Americana, until one day he sustained an injury which ended his athletic careers.

The ESPN 30 of 30 documentary draws watchers vividly through the iconic fame that Bo held during the “glory days” of millennial’s like myself. In his prime, Bo Jackson was kind of a sports god. His abilities were truly “holy” as it pertains to athletes, and the non-internet era which he grew to fame in, meant that many of his phenomenal feats carried with them urban-legend like epic-ness. This “athletic holiness” was experienced by millennials by watching his Nike “Bo Knows” campaigns, using his unfairly advantaged character in the Nintendo game “Tecmo Super Bowl”, and watching his likeness become immortalized as part of an athletic super hero team on a Saturday morning cartoon.

Watching this documentary reminds guys like me that Bo Jackson was a legend, and at the end of the documentary, they close it by showing how Bo spends his time nowadays, as an avid archer and bow-hunter. Bo closes the documentary holed up in a basement man-cave, scattered with deer, boar, elk, and bear trophies. The watcher gets the sense that Bo has poured all of his mind, effort, and obsession into archery – seemingly living as an obsessed hunting savant of some sort.

At one point in the closing act, Bo says “These trophies, these heads, these are my true trophies. On my headstone, all I want it to say is “here lies a ball-player”, that’s it, that’s all it should say.”

My face scowled and heart dipped while I sat in my dark basement and heard him say that, I thought to myself “is that it? is THAT the culmination of his entire existence? That He played games really well?”

Athletics are fickle, temporary, and fairly meaningless; even for the greatest. It made me shutter as I heard Bo Jackson summarize his entire existence into “Here lies a ball player” because I know that the moment after his heart takes it’s last beat, he will be standing before the great throne of judgement, face to face with Jesus.

When it all comes down, we’ll all stand before Jesus

“Is His Name Written in the Lamb’s Book of Life?” Jesus will ask. Bo will then realize that the life he just finished living was just a precursor for an eternal life, either spent at Jesus’ side or in a lake of fire filled with unrelenting torment, burning and thirst.

I don’t know whether or not Bo Jackson is a disciple of Jesus, who’s been justified through faith, but Bo Jackson’s athletic achievements won’t count towards the work Jesus considers when He judges our actions. Athletics aren’t bad, except when they’re used to fuel our pride which converts our activities to be in opposition with God.

CLARIFICATION: Only our FAITH IN CHRIST saves us, not by anything we do.  Our JUSTIFICATION, right standing with God, or ‘ticket into heaven” was obtained by Jesus on our behalf and we can receive His gift of justification, and therefore eternal life, by placing our faith in Jesus and His work on the cross.  Placing our trust and faith in Jesus and “following” Him is the path to eternal life.  BUT – there are two parts, justification is where we find out if we go to heaven, and then there is a reckoning even for us that were saved through faith; where Jesus looks at our work here on earth and rewards us accordingly. This is a weird concept that I’ll unbox in another post, but I wanted to note this quick as it might seem like I’m claiming that certain activities make us go to heaven or not.  I”m not saying that at all, I’m saying that we can stumble in our faith, and in our walk with Jesus or obedience, if sports becomes an idol.

If sports are meaningless even for Bo Jackson, surely it’s not worth it for any of us to allow our pursuit of “sports glory” to cause us to sin.

Walking through Lakeville High School & My own “Sports Glory”:

img_7768Mywife and I went out for dinner the other day while we had a baby sitter for the girls. We had about 45 minutes before we had to pick them up, but we hadn’t planned anything at all – and it was raining. We were right next to Lakeville High School, where I graduated and competed in athletics, so we parked the car and entered the school which was open and lit up because of evening activities.

I walked in and I was immediately brought back 15-18 years to my time there from 1997-2000. I walked right up to the old trophy wall on the second floor, where the list of team MVP’s and state champions stood. I walked around and found the spots where my name is engraved, “Rob Satrom 1999” was on the MVP plaque for track, then I looked to the football bar and saw my buddy Tom Revak’s name. We walked past the trophy cages, which were crammed full of wooden plaques with pictures on them, from the years 1970 to 2016.

These trophy cases were stuffed to the tilt, plaques were crammed in there so badly, that you couldn’t see any of the information on them and the pictures were all blocked. This wasn’t because of neglect, but because of the sheer volume of trophies! I was kind of annoyed because I could find some of the plaques that had my bust on them, but they were totally covered because of how cluttered they were.

After looking through the MVP and state title trophy cases, we headed downstairs near the lunch room, where each wall is made up of foot, after foot, of trophy cases; the same was true of these as well! Each one was cluttered with wooden plaques for “district finalist”, champion, and other nominal “awards” that are handed out as a validation of the “great efforts, dedication and hard work” each team puts in.

I knew that my face was featured on about 15 of those plaques, but there must have been 500 of them all lined up! I was utterly overwhelmed with how meaningless each trophy was amidst this ocean of awards. I had a myriad of thoughts, some placating to the high caliber tradition of athletics of Lakeville, some were more dismissive of our millennial’s “trophy for everyone” culture, and some of my thoughts were meditating on how many years had passed since I was a “big deal” in high school athletics.

I see nothing but missed opportunities in my sports career.  Not because without my partying, I might have made it to the NFL, or at least followed through on a college career, but becasue of the missed opportunities to witness for Christ.

I would have counted my time in sports as a gain for Christ, if my main pursuit would have been to be the most caring, loving, encouraging, and others-focused player while simultaneously adding value to the team.  If I would have been more concerned for the glory of God, and helping others move the spiritual meter of their lives toward faith in Christ, I would have seen my sporting career as a success.

1 Corinthians 10:31

“So whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do it all for the glory of God.”

Colossians 3:23-24

“work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.  Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the master you are serving is Christ.”

Converting Sports from “Your Glory” to “God’s Glory”

I”m trying to give advice that’s spurred along by Hebrews 3:13, “and you must warn (encourage) each other everyday, while it’s still “today” so that you will not be deceived by sin and have your hearts hardened against God.”

If you’re pursuing sports glory for yourself, you’re living in a manner that will cause harm to your life now and will be filled with regret later.  I think that as with alcohol, if you’re unable to handle it without sinning, you should go “not a drop” with competitive sports and just quit to play for fun.

But rather than quit, I hope that most of you reading this would be able to convert sports from being about your own glory, to doing it for God’s glory – which can be a major life achievement and can be extremely fruitful and meaningful work.

Sports and Youth can be “Primetime” for doing God’s Work

There’s something I’ve found as I’ve aged, that the opportunities to live out God’s commission seem to be shrouded in the American life. We’re so autonomous, isolated, and out of community, that there’s seldom a time when adults have the ability to simply connect relationally so that you can be a witness for Christ by your love.

When you are young, particularly when you’re in sports, there is no greater opportunity to invest relationally into those around you so that you’ll have relational equity which can be used to point people towards Jesus.  Your energies are not split between children and spouses either, so you can really pursue God’s call in a more relentless way.

In John 13:34-35, Jesus said:

“A new commandment I give to you, to love one another, just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, IF you love one another.”

Then Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:58

“be strong and immovable, always work enthusiastically for the Lord for you know that nothing you ever do is ever useless.”

I’d encourage you to realize that youth and sports are a total waste if their done for your own glory, but can be an eternally fruitful endeavor if done for the glory of God.

I’ll end with Paul’s words about how we build our lives; built either on Christ or on other foundations, and depending on what we build it will all be tested through God’s purifying judgement.

1 Corinthians 3:5-15 

“After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.

Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.

Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:24-27

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Watch Atheist and Christian PHD’s lock horns about whether science has buried God: Richard Dawkins vs. John Lennox

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Richard Dawkins vs. John Lennox Debate

“How can I know something to be true?”

My Dad sat me down when I was just a little boy and started coaching me about the importance of scrutinizing information that’s being taught or presented to me.  My Dad is a shrewd man, who can ingeniously uncover the underlying assumptions, consequences, principles and implications of a certain narrative or hypothesis.

This debate is one of my favorite battles of intellectual minds debating Christianity and Atheism.

The debate was entitled “Has Science Buried God,” and lasts about 80 minutes.

I know it can be dry sitting and listening to a scientific or academic exchange, but I urge you to please sit down and watch this so you can see a couple of things.

The main reason why I love this debate so much, is that it clearly shows where the whole debate sits; with a burden of proof conundrum, presuppositional conundrum, and a stalemate.

Ultimately the scientific debate boils down to this:

Once there was nothing, then there was something.  

This transition from nothing to something, is often referred to in scientific communities as the cosmological “singularity.”  In short, it is logically concluded that there was one event that changed everything; Christians claim that it’s the creation by an intelligent mind which we call God, and atheists claim that their proof for their hypothesis just hasn’t come in yet.  That’s what Richard Dawkins means when He says “Cosmology hasn’t had it’s Darwin yet.”

When Dawkins says “Cosmology hasn’t had it’s Darwin yet,” He’s saying “Though unproven, we’re holding on to the presupposition that there is no designing intelligence behind the universe.”

Basically, the debate is at a stalemate in my opinion; atheists claim Dawkins won and everyone else claims Lennox won.

Please watch this video so you can witness two behemoth minds duel it out – it’s worth finishing.

When I watch you eat pizza so flippantly….

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Carbitable Carb-ITABLE http://www.robsatrom.com

“Carb-itable” The irritability from watching non carb-conscious people be unappreciative of the delicious carbs they are eating.

This is my word, I made it up. 🙂

So I’ve been on a Ketogenic diet for about 155 days.  I’ve lost approximately 40 pounds since then by dieting, lifting weights, and walking.  The diet causes you to deplete your body of glucose so that it must convert to an alternative fuel source called ketones and fat.  You achieve ketosis by eliminating carbs to under 20 grams a day, eat basically 70% fats, 25% proteins and less than 5% carbs.

what is a ketogenic diet? http://www.robsatrom.com
what is a ketogenic diet? http://www.robsatrom.com

I’ll talk more about my weightless somewhere else, but the bottom line is that it’s an attractive diet that allows you to have many benefits.

What’s funny though is how I’ve come to dislike the apathy associated with carb-eaters.  They have NO IDEA what it’s like to have to cut out such amazing things like pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches and pizza….

The nice thing about this diet though, is that by taking off entire macro nutrients, I’m able to stay within the bounds because there are delicious foods I can eat. Not only are there great options to eat, but I have TONS of energy, because the boom and busy cycle of blood sugar, insulin etc. is almost eliminated.

I know that it’s not the perfect diet, but I’ve been TOTALLY self disciplined this time, no cheat days, cheat meals, or anything.

Basically I get the craving for pizza and chocolate occasionally.  Then I make a pizza on these flatout wraps, and eat some sugar free jello pudding.  I’ll dive into how I make these Pizzas some day, because they TOTALLY satisfy the pizza craving and I LOVE THEM!

Anyway – Carb-itable is my word, I made it up.

If you desire to love life and see good days….

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“For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.””
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:10-12‬

3 Ways to Make Life go well:

Do you desire to love life and see good days like what’s prompted in this writing from Peter? Of course you do!

I’ve learned that the key to having a successful life is to start searching for wisdom like hidden treasure, and pouring into the Bible is the truest way to do that.

I was reading 1 Peter again this morning, and this verse hit me.  It shows three things that make life go well.

1 – Keep our tongue from Evil and our lips from Deceit

2 – Turn away from evil and do good

3 – Seek peace and pursue it

Throughout my life, when I would allow myself to say evil things, my life would be compromised in some way, shape or form.  What we say MATTERS.  In fact, reading Peter lead me to another verse that shows us just how big of a deal our mouths and tongues are.

Read these frightening words from Jesus’ brother James, about the impact our words and speech have on life:

“If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue.

It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.”
‭‭James‬ ‭3:3-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Isn’t Universal Health Care the Christian thing to do?

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My Thesis:

I’ve seen dozens of people on my social media feed, that are primarily liberal, argue that Jesus would be for universal health care.

I find this very uncompelling.  I’ve discovered that the God of the bible instructed believers to help others, to be generous, but to do it from the giving that they give “not under compulsion” and the giving that they’ve “planned ahead of time.”

I alos don’t see the GOd of the bible instructing us to take other people’s money to commit our charitable deeds.

Socialized systems are all about creating a strong central controlling government which will use force to coerce others into submission.  It is opposite of free-will, and it denies the magnificent spontaneous order, we witness every minute of our lives.  Socialism believes that powerful people can be smarter than the markets – which has proven to be a failure every time it’s implemented.

Jesus would not have been for socialized medicine.

Instead, he would have been for entrepreneurial charity and generosity.  People using their God given gifts of ingenuity and hard work, to charitably solve the problems of society – as well as through the church.

Nothing has done more to lift the standard of living, the life expectancy of people, the economic footings of countries, and the overall liberty and freedom of people, than the free market system. Capitalism has freed more slaves, saved more lives, and caused more prosperity for a broader base of people, than every alternative form of government or economics combined. The free market, combined with liberty, are the most peaceful, helpful, and virtuous systems ever – EVER.

What prompted this post? Obamacare:
Recently, I’ve posted a story about how even the democrats are fed up with the way the Affordable Care Act has impacted the health care and health insurance markets.

The article criticized the outcomes of “Obamacare”, and an old friend of mine posted this:

Friend’s Facebook Post:

“Sadly, everyone has opinions after the fact but zero solutions… Especially the party that says they are about morals and the bible. But yet are against Health care for everyone. Ignoring the fact that the bible preached all throughout it, help the sick and poor.”

There was a little back and forth with another friend about the merits and responsibilities of Christians for the poor, health care, capitalism, and I decided I wanted to reframe the discussion and I posted:

Rob Posted:

:
Yeah rather than asking whether or not healthcare should be provided for everyone by government, it’s best to identify what system would provide the highest quality care at the lowest cost to the person.

Anything outside of a market function does not have the proper incentives to drive quality and price efficiency. Unfortunately, it bureaucracy has no incentive to acquire a five star review from their customers. Not only are they not given an incentive for natural excellence in their work, but there is no incentive to produce a net profit.

Milton Friedman talked about gammon’s law which states that a bureaucracy actually declines in its net output in proportion to its investments. In other words, a bureaucracy will always fill the time they are allotted and only work as long as they are forced.

This does not mean the public sector employees are immoral or unable to produce good work, it means that bureaucracies lack the economic function and incentive to drive a net profit for their inputted work.

The bottom line is, a government bureaucracy does not efficiently administer care to any group of people and it will never efficiently get work done in comparison to a free-market private sector system.

My friend replied again with:

See all that is good and all. But it is all political. That is the problem. You can’t have the bible in one hand and and the capitalism hand book in the other. I know it’s reality, but that is why we ate losing our way as a people. We value money more than people and Jesus’s way.

He Claimed: “You can’t have the bible in one hand and and the capitalism hand book in the other”

Quick Video to understand where things are REALLY at with Obamacare:

It’s my old friend’s comment that spurred me to think that I needed to provide a deeper, more permanent solution for this. My intent is to provide the education required to start to understand where we are, from PHD’s and foundational voices, about our free-market system.

This video will summarize the entire argument I will make below. The alternative to capitalism is horrific compared to capitalism.

Is that true? Is it antithetical to hold the Bible in one hand, and capitalism in the other? Are they somehow opposed to each other and unable to be reconciled? This begs a whole bunch of questions that I’m not going to unbox here, but I think I could list some out quick that should make the reader think a little bit.

Questions Pertaining to the role of caring for the poor:

  • Is the charity of the bible supposed to be accomplished at the individual level, through para-church ministries, or through the Church itself? Or is it the job of a centrally driven bureaucracy to administer charity?
  • What types of consequences does charity have at the individual, para-church, church, and government level have? What level of charity is most nimble to respond efficiently to the needs of local communities?
  • Can the needs of people be “universally” known? Does a one-size-fit-all solution administered by a central bureaucracy drive efficient, low-cost solutions?
  • What incentives does personal charity have when giving? What incentives does a para-church or Church have? What incentives does a government have when administering charity?
  • What basic economic incentives produce the most charitable outcome for a nation?

Some of My Thoughts:

1 – Jesus Followers: First off, I’d like to say that disciples of Jesus are called to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God; we are commanded to support the poor, the parent-less, and widows. The bottom line is that disciples of Jesus should be grappling with how they are obeying God in these areas.

2 – Most Dems & Repubs are innocent bystanders. I’d also like to say that I feel like I’m generous with the assumptions I make of normal democrats and republicans. I believe that every-day citizens that consider themselves democrats and republicans, tend to want the same things, but argue about how to obtain those outcomes.

Republicans and democrats both want to help people, create economic opportunity, bring racial equality, and find ways to ensure that people aren’t left in the streets.

3- Capitalism is the most virtuous economic model. I’d like to say that any alternatives to capitalism are actually well-meaning, but horrific solutions that have failed every time.

While regular democrats and republicans want the same things – I believe that the political divide in our country is actually nuanced a bit. It is no longer republican vs. democrat, but authoritarian central bureaucracy vs. personal liberty.

This is evident when you ask “what’s the difference between a socialist and a democrat”, to which Hillary and others were hard-bent to answer

Capitalism: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

Socialism: a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies

Socialists are people who want the government to take over the means of production. This means that they believe that government bureaucracy can replace the free-market system and do a better job. They think that wages, prices, and solutions should be master-minded and can be controlled and then handled by the powerful elites. At the core of a socialist’s ideology are four things:

Modern Democrats are socialists- Marxist communists.

Four Cores of Socialist Beliefs:

  • The belief that central power-bureaucracy can work,
  • that there are “have’s” and “Have-nots”, and
  • that the “haves” are cheaters and
  • the government can fix that by taking over.

The results of socialism are all the same: They cannot deliver goods and services in an efficient manner, which on one end of the spectrum leads to massive deficit spending, and on the other end of the spectrum leads to famine and total failure.

This is a LONG documentary about how the soviets failed at planning around crops, food, shipping, etc. Don’t watch this now, watch it tomorrow night 🙂  

 

2 – I believe that my friend, along with most of the public, are totally unaware of the economic functions of a free market. They do not understand how the principles of scarcity, and supply & demand have delivered “just the right amount of goods, at just the right quality, at just the right price; according to the scarcity of said product”. I’m hesitant to blame the people themselves, because I remember when my educators attempted to teach me economics and I recall my reactions.  Not only was it bland and seemingly deliberately over my head, but I was taught the silly demand-side Keynesian nonsense about how a window breaking is good for the economy.

3 – Because they are ignorant of the basic economic principles, many people believe that government can takeover industries that are “human rights” such as healthcare.

4 – These people have not been shown the horrific track record of central planner’s attempts to deliver the right amount of goods, at the right amount of quality, at the right price, to the consumer when they need it.  Watching the documentary above called “The Great Famine” by pbs, will show how central bureacrats screwed everything up and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths.

5 – These people also believe that profit motives are evil, and that profit motives do not value people. They believe that an altruistic goal can be achieved through the collective efforts of a bureaucracy just as efficiently as the private sector.

6 – These people have not been taught that nothing has done more to increase the quality and standard for living, has saved more lives, and provided more stability in all antiquity, as the free-market enterprise system .

 

MY CONCLUSION: 

It is possible to carry a bible in one hand and capitalism in the other.  In fact, it’s probably the best way to lead a country.

 

Here is an old video of a Soviet Union grocery store.  Their central planning was so off, that it gave absolutely dismal results.

Here is a video featuring the current debacle that Socilist Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela is facing.

Join me in Genuinely Praying for Trump and Hillary

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Clinton Trump
CLinton T

Alright, I’ve been cynical, critical, dooms-day-ish, and awefully snarky lately.

Yesterday I was on a Facebook page that had dozens of hilarious “Liberty Memes” that had me in stitches, and I started to repost about 10 of them.  The problem is that the snarky, cynical nature of the posts are not the honorable way I desire to act.  I apologize for the some of the flippant posts I put out there – but I also ask that you afford Me (and everyone) grace to debate, tease, and lambast their political foes a bit.

But on to what I’m focused on:

 It’s high time we all drop to our knees and Genuinely pray for Hillary and Trump.

James, the brother of Jesus, wrote in a letter that “The earnest prayers of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” James 5:16.  For those of us who are disciples of Jesus, do we have the bona-fide kind of faith which Jesus incites, that trusts that God would honor and perhaps listen to our prayers for our presidents?

I realize that I’ve been a fool.  I ALWAYS criticize Barack Obama, and I’ve even reveled as I’ve seen the progressive agenda fail when executed. What’s worse, is that I NEVER EVER pray for Barack Obama.

What kind of faith doesn’t lift up a person in prayer, particularly one who’s representing us on a global scale, making tremendously difficult choices about which nations to defend, which cruel dictators need opposition, and which laws to support and legislate?

If anyone needs the earnest prayers of a righteous person, it’s our President.

God is in control of all this, and God’s main work is to reconcile people to Himself, through faith and trust in Jesus.  Both seemingly “evil” and “good” things are used to spur people along to recognize there is a God, repent, and place their faith and trust in Him so they can receive eternal life, abundant life on earth, and the outcomes of being in a deep relationship with Him. These outcomes are gifts such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

Three ways I’m praying for Hillary, Trump, and Obama:

1 – That they would come to faith in Christ if they haven’t already.

This one is pretty simple.  I’m going to ask that God would cause them to place their faith and trust in Jesus if they haven’t already.  I have no idea if they have a bona-fide, authentic relationship with Jesus and have placed their trust in Him.

Whether it’s through another person’s testimony, the desire to get help carrying their burdens, or their sudden realization that they are hell-bound, I just hope they believe Jesus was who He claimed to be, realize their need for a savior from the judgement that their sins carry, and come to Jesus in faith to justify them before God.

Here are the pieces of the Gospel if you didn’t know them:

a – There is a God who created it all, and He’s in charge.  He’s revealed Hiimself to humanity over the ages, and we can know Him by both science and His revelations through now-written testimony.  He also created all the laws of our universe, from science, logic, philosophy to moral law.  God’s moral law was known before Moses, but was captured by Moses during an important moment.  God’s moral law is captured in the command to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to Love your neighbor as yourself”.  Just underneath this, is the ten commandments and then the litany of other laws.  We cannot fully obey God’s perfect and Holy moral laws, we need to rely on Him.

b – He created the world, and created humans to be in a close relationship with Him.  The first two humans were given tremendous goodness and blessing and allowed to have a close, loving relationship with God which involved choice to obey His simple law.  The choice presented to Humans was to Love God with everything, Love each other, and thrive through their God-given liberties; and honor this by not eating the fruit of a certain tree.

c – Sin entered the world when Adam and Eve broke their relationship with God by disobeying His very simple law.  Sin separated humans from God, and they then needed to be reconciled to Him through atonement.  The first atonement was when Adam and Eve sinned, God sacrificed an animal and placed the skin on them.

d – All people are now born sinners because we break God’s law.  Anyone who truly knows themselves, or has been around humans under the age of 25, knows that we all break God’s moral code constantly.

Not sure if you break God’s moral code? here they are:

  • Have no other God’s – don’t put anything or anyone before your relationship with God.
  • Shall not make any idols, don’t bow to anything but God
  • Do not take the Lord’s name in vain. Don’t use your lips to dishonor God
  • Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy
  • Honor your father and your mother
  • You shall not murder
  • You shall not commit adultery (in your heart by lusting or in action)
  • You shall not steal (anything! employer time, staples, gum, anything)
  • You shall not lie (even white lies)
  • You shall not covet (be anything but fully satisfied with what God has blessed you with)

The point of this list is to show us that we are not holy, and we have all broken these laws.  Truly, only God can make us right before HIm.

e – Jesus’ work on the cross paid the penalty for breaking God’s law. God promised, right away when the curse of sin was placed on Humans, that a savior would come to “crush the head” of this new calamity.  The “Messiah” or savior from this calamity was promised, talked about, and predicted for millennia before He showed up EXACTLY as predicted in the first century AD.  Jesus of Nazareth was sent to fulfill the prophecy.  Jesus was when God chose to come down here in full humanity, live a perfect life that was subject to the temptation to sin, but would live sinless.  Then He became the perfect sacrifice for all of humanities sin and He then PAID THE PENALTY for every sin ever committed by any person both past and present.

f – Jesus paid the penalty, and He said that if we just beleive in Him, trust in Him, and place our faith in His work on the cross as this sacrifice, then we receive the free gift of God.  The free gift is a new reconciled relationship to God, a payment for the penalty of our sins, eternal life in heaven, a new abundant life on earth, and our bodies become the new temple for God’s spirit to abide on earth.

g – when we believe, we receive this very real gift, and tit changes our lives.  The main thing is that God gives us new desires, attitudes, passions, and makes us focused on love.  Because of this real “rebirth”, we obey God’s commands which are all about being masters in the “Craft” of “Loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and loving our neighbor as ourselves”

h – now that we are justified before God, our guilty sentence is paid for, and our life is made new and abundant, we share this good news with others in a respectful, real, and loving manner.  This is the “Church”, the members of God’s real family honoring, worshiping, and seeking His kingdom in our lives together.  Local congregations are different flavors of this being lived out.

2 – That they would have the DESIRE and the POWER to honor God

This is important.  Paul, who was a super-expert in the Old Testament, studied with the apostles of Jesus for years, and who was called into the ministry of Church planting by Jesus Himself, wrote to a group of beleiver in a letter called “Phillippians” the following:

“For it is God at work within us, both to will and to act in order to fulfill [God’s] good purposes” 2:13

This means that we need God to work in these people to have the desire to act in accordance to God’s will, and to the have the power to actually follow through and DO what it is that God would want.

Failure of Nerve is the major problem for politicians these days.  The don’t want to do what’s the responsible thing because it’s not politically expedient.   They won’t layoff the thousands of government employees, cut social security benefits, or reduce the other entitlements which are literally being paid for by debt alone.  They don’t fix things because it means they won’t be reelected after they shut off the spout of irresponsible entitlements, handouts, or inefficient bureaucratic government employers.

We need to pray that they will have the proper desires and motivations and then we should pray that they’ll have the power or gumption to execute on the God honoring ways to steward this nation and their power.

3 – That they will seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly 

These are kind of the basics of how God tells us to act.  These are good specifics to the broad type of prayer from number 2.

I don’t need to exposit this verse but the idea is to put some biblical specifics to the way we pray for their desires.  We can have all sorts of opinions about what we think politicians ought to do, but this top-level directive is set by God as given through His spokesman Micah to the leaders of Israel back in the last half of the 8th century BC.

What if our specific political strategies are actually foolish?  Would our prayers then be short-sighted and unwise prayers?  Possibly.

My thought here is that these are macro-level themes are ones that we know God desires in our leaders.  Justice must be executed, we ought to be merciful and compassionate to all, and humility is the most potent characteristic anyone can wield.

humility is the most potent characteristic anyone can wield.

Summary:

So lets all take a moment to pray that Trump, Hillary, and Obama would all come to faith in Christ if they haven’t, have the desire and power to do what honors Him, and specifically do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

Even Yoda knows that government power corrupts

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yoda government power meme
yoda government power meme

“Corrupts, yes. That is what power will do.