Saturday, September 21, 2019
Home Blog Page 3

I’m a former republican, turned libertarian because of…..

0

Preface:

First off, I want to warn my readers that I’m going to be political for a moment.  If you don’t like politics, that’s ok.  This blog is meant to be a legacy to my children and family, and it’s an outlet for my active mind.

I love democrats, republicans, conservatives, and libertarians.  I love people.  I love all people, no matter what!  But I also believe that we live in a fallen world and that Jesus is the hope of the world.

I think politics are important, although far behind following Jesus, being a great family member, and doing meaningful work.  Politics are really important, which is why I want to be engaged and why I hold an opinion.  I have strong held opinions, but they do not get in the way of my love and respect for PEOPLE.  Disagreeing with me politically is perfectly fine, and I think we need to be able to argue hard in our pursuit for governance wisdom.

I believe that businesses and governments are like ships.  They accomplish a job, and fulfill a purpose.  They are primarily an agnostic machine, not being “saintly or evil”, but fulfilling a job.  I believe that the crew members of the ships, and their leaders, matter dearly.  The ability to produce results as a ship crew, and the spiritual destiny of the crew, are two different things; just like our salvation and our jobs differ.  I just want the reader to know that I’m going to say some opinionated stuff, but people are the primarily valuable thing in life.

I also want to say that I love homosexuals.  I’m going to say some stuff that sounds “anti-homosexual”, but I assure you that my aim is to separate my religious convictions from my pursuit of liberty.  I believe that homosexuals should be afforded every single liberty that any other American is.

Republicans are fleeing principle for the pursuit of winning.

Republican Hypocrisy about Marriage Licenses

Before 2012, marriage licenses were issued almost exclusively to couples consisting of one man and one woman. Homosexuals had nearly no opportunities country-wide to obtain a marriage license.

But alas, the republicans decided they needed to come to the rescue and define marriage as being between “one woman and one man”, so that homosexuals wouldn’t be able to obtain a marriage license.

That’s how I frame it up, but that’s not nearly what the narrative was from either the left or the right during that hotly contested election cycle. Critics and advocates about the various legislation trying to define marriage would wear shirts and bumper stickers that said things like “Vote NO!” or “Vote YES!”, and the topic made headlines in the media like no other topics had in some time.

Both republicans and democrats politicized this issue aggressively.  Democrats supported allowing homosexuals to get married while republicans were for defining marriage as only existing between a man and a woman. Here in Minnesota, the republicans pro-actively tried to define marriage to include only one man and one woman, in an effort to protect the most important institution in the nation.

The result of the republican push was evident; the optics of the legislation was horrific for them and people spoke with one voice and voted down the republican legislation.  Two years later, the democrats countered the republican’s law with their own legislation to legalize gay marriage and it passed overwhelmingly.

I think that republicans were working within a context and framework that was totally flawed.  They acted in a bigoted manner, which caused the good and caring people of our nation to turn out and vote democratic in that midterm and presidential race.  I think it was a stupid move because trying to protect marriage by managing who received a license from the state, isn’t even slightly the liberty approach.

Homosexuals can now get married; or at least they can obtain a marriage license once they pay the extortion fee.

I believe that this issue is one of many indicators that the republican party has become unprincipled, faded from their pursuit of liberty, and opted for a means-justified pursuit of winning.

I think the republican push to combat gay-marriage was foolish. yet I’m a person who believes that all sex outside of a monogamous male/female marriage is sin.  I also believe that pride is a sin, anger, rage, malice slander, sex outside of marriage, and a whole onslaught of other things.  I don’t think certain sins should disqualify people from obtaining a marriage license – I’m being very precise here if you’ll notice.

We shouldn’t ban homosexuals from getting marriage licenses, rather, I think we need to eradicate the marriage license.

Eradicating marriage licenses would not harm the true institution of marriage one bit.

Think about it, why in the world do we think we should need permission from the state to get married?

As a conservative, Christian, libertarian, you might imagine I’d be upset about the way marriage was “compromised” to include homosexuals.  Rather than conclude that, I tend to think “what two people want to do is none of my business!”  If people want to be in a homosexual relationship with each other, I need to afford them that liberty.  That doesn’t mean I’m condoning homosexuality or gay marriage, I’m simply saying that they deserve the same liberty that I do according to the law.  My hope is that all people will honor God and decide they want to be a disciple of Jesus through free-choice, and that is completely available to ALL people who believe Jesus was who He claimed to be, place their faith in Him for salvation, and turn from their sin.  But my other hope is that our government would afford us equal liberty.

I conclude that the republican proposed legislation was foolish, unprincipled, and a symptom of the all-too-common foolery of the modern republicanism we see. Republicans have migrated their principles from sound, liberty-focused foundations, to a means-justified pursuit of winning. In other words, rather than asking “what’s the wise, principled thing to do”, the republicans have been asking “what do we need to do to win”. I think i understand why, but I’m convinced it’s why they will never win again.

In this specific gay-marriage legislation, republicans attempted to use government power and bureaucracy to ensure that marriage could be denied to certain citizens.

republicans attempted to use government power and bureaucracy to ensure that marriage could be denied to certain citizens.

I believe that God’s design for marriage was for it to be between one man and one woman, where they honor God in all that they do. Marriage is a religious institution that has been adopted into our society and encouraged with the financial incentive of tax breaks and some legal benefits. We should make marriage a religious institution again, tearing it out of our legal system because it’s not government’s job to determine who can be married.

Republicans were fine with government’s bureaucratic entrenchment inside the marriage process, which is antithetical to liberty and classical liberalism (which is actually modern day conservatives). They accepted the government’s power to “approve or decline” marriages, and they found it perfectly acceptable to demand an extortion fee to approve an agreement that ought to be religious in nature.

What business does government have in monitoring marriages, no matter how beneficial the institution is to our country?

You see, marriage shouldn’t even be recognized by states at all, because it is a religious institution. You might ask “But how would inheritance be passed to people and what would determine custody of children?” Well, parents are afforded rights despite marriage vows, and inheritance happens despite marriages.

While society ought to encourage monogamous marriage between a man and a woman because it’s beneficial for society, it ought to allow the social and religious institutions to make those pleas rather than the government.

Think about it, why in the world have we empowered government to extort us for a marriage license and fee?

Why do we think they ought to be the one’s determining if marriage is legitimate? What in the world is the argument for that? It’s certainly not a liberty-minded thought process.

When you boil it down, government’s tinkering with marriage is a relic from our past when we were more generous and authentic about the utility of christian institutions in our nation. There was an era where we didn’t expel the association with Christianity, and we were much more candid about the benefits a society experiences when truly Christ-like attitudes, morals, and behaviors mark the lives of it’s citizens.

The era of Christianity has not passed, but we’ve entered an era where the powers of our government are so seductive and corrupting that government must never be given the power or precedent of religious establishment. The government must be an agnostic machine, but it’s “crew members” should be afforded the religious liberty to freely express or be guided by their own personal religious convictions. In other words, Christians ought to be elected and allowed to live out their faith very openly, but they cannot ever allow the government to try compel or discriminate according to religion.

We must have separation of religion and government (Church & State), but we can never omit the free expression of the faith of it’s stewards.

But there’s a reason why government decided to encourage marriage, because it’s really helpful.

The most beneficial ideal for the citizens of a nation to pursue is the ideal of a God-honoring family. Nothing causes more stability, growth, peace, or prosperity, than when a man and a woman come together to have a family that tries to honor Jesus in every aspect.  God honoring marriages are ones that are full of respect, humility, meekness, forgiveness, service, sex, adoration, purposeful work, and filled with the fruit of the spirit.

Think about it though, a nation is not improved by issuing marriage licenses (except financially).  What does benefit a nation is God honoring families having lots of children in a God-honoring manner. The State’s marriage license has no bearing, impact, or utility to the beneficial institution of marriage and it’s marriage license has no benefit to the nation itself.

The State’s marriage license has no bearing, impact, or utility to the beneficial institution of marriage

The question should be asked then, what business does government have licensing and recognizing marriages? Why do we need permission from a government authority in order to be married?

what business does government have licensing and recognizing marriages?

Some readers might be saying that we need marriage licenses to ensure there are no underage weddings or incest. But, the law is already more than able to take care of these concerns. It’s illegal to sleep with children, and acting against someone’s will is illegal as well. Marriage isn’t the tool to protect from things like this.

Marriage Licensure and Bureaucracy is an example of government’s un-relinquishing grasp on power.

Here is one of the most important things to understand:

Whatever power government is afforded, it will not relinquish on it’s own.

Government would never stop extorting people for money once they’ve started. Not only that, but government will never reduce it’s taxation and financial coercion on it’s own, it always fights to advance further power and revenues. Therefore, I conclude that the only reason why government has decided it needs to regulate and license marriage is because it lusts for power and is unable to relinquish any which it’s acquired.

Why would republicans, who once built their policies in an effort to afford greater liberty (not sure which era I’m beaconing here), be inclined to create additional rules around the already anti-liberty institution of marriage regulation and licensure?   The answer is that they lust for power just like the left.

The republican definition of marriage legislation was misguided, and because of republicans inability to remain liberty-focused, they’ve languished over the last 10 years or so.  Trump want’s to make america great again, but only LIBERTY can get us there; something Trump has never referenced.

The same problem that caused republicans to act antithetical to liberty in the marriage issue, is what’s landed us in this current election debacle where republicans have a nominee antithetical to it’s classically liberal roots.

Now we have Donald Trump as the republican nominee, which I believe is directly related to the republicans drift away from the principles of liberty, and towards a means-justified pursuit of winning. Sorry if you are a Trump lover, but I’m not.

Fox news republicans are all excited because Trump is an “outsider” who can cut through the nonsense of the narrative-driven, mainstream media-manipulated, election foolery. They are so sick about their losses to Barrack Obama, that they’ve had a Popeye moment and decided to provide the left an opponent who will play the same dirty games of demagoguery they’ve been orchestrating over the last 40 years.

The politicians of the left have been colluding with their cronies in education and media to win american votes by appealing to their desire for handouts, their jealousy, their envy, their uncommon-ness, and other Saul Alinsky tactics.

the left seems hell-bent on accomplishing some utopian vision of the future by any means other than personal liberty and the free markets

I’m not entirely sure, but the left seems hell-bent on accomplishing some utopian vision of the future by any means other than personal liberty and the free markets. For some reason, they’ve decided the same power that they fought in the 1960’s, is somehow the most effective tool to use to fulfill their vision for the future. The left loves government power.

For some reason, the left thinks they know best for everyone, and they love forcing those decisions through a burgeoning government bureaucracy.

Rather than developing great policy, sticking with a defined set of principles, purpose, and mission; republicans have decided to do whatever it takes to win. When confronted with this obvious degradation of their strategies and tactics, most republicans reply with “you want the left to own the supreme court?”, because they know they have no other defense of the situation we find ourselves in. We have a scummy, name-calling demagogue as the republican nominee, just like liberals always have.

Libertarians need to take-over the republican party so that we can realign it to true principles which value liberty and faithfully relinquish federal power to the states.

I’ve heard it said that democrats are the party consumed and drunk with government power and unable to relinquish it, while republicans and conservatives differ only in that they think the people in power shouldn’t exercise the power they are afforded. Libertarians are quite different, they think power corrupts so all government power should be reduced to it’s irreducible size, only big enough to execute the functions of the constitution. Looking at the role government plays, and the legislation put out, affirms these descriptions, which is why I align with the libertarian tilt.

I agree with the libertarian premise, that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I hope that we can infiltrate the republican party and return the party to a liberty-focused, power divesting federal government. I hope that a libertarian-republican party would aggressively eliminate government bureaucracy, power, and payroll.

I agree with the libertarian premise, that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely

I also think that all people should be able to get married, and government should not get in the way of that! That’s the thing about liberty, it needs to be afforded so that folks can act liberally as well as conservatively. We need to be free to choose, within the parameters of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, due to us by our inalienable rights which are endowed by our creator. This means that government needs to be scaled back, WAY BACK.

Our politicians are not doing what’s right for the country because they are purchased by special interests of all sorts. What makes it difficult, is that these special interests represent each of us more than we’d care to admit. When you boil it down, every lobbyist is tied to special interests that have a vast network of well-meaning, self-interested benefactors; our friends, family, and ourselves. What I’m saying is that if we’re honest, we’re just as bad as the government is with it’s power. If we are given a benefit, wittingly or unwittingly, we really struggle to relinquish the benefit, no matter how irresponsible it is. I don’t know anyone who refuses a possible earned income tax credit, who will to pay more than their “fair share” in taxes, or who doesn’t keep their employment in industries protected through sweet-heart crony arrangements. Do as I say, not as I do; that’s one of the major problems in America.

Don’t believe me? Find the industry association that your employer belongs to, and trace their donations and lobbyist efforts at Openbook.com or OpenSecrets.org Look at the list of those who paid for a Hillary Clinton’s speeches, it’s all crony money! http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-05-24/heres-full-list-organizations-paid-hillary-clinton-2013-2015

If liberty is going to be our pursuit, then it’s time we start seeing the real culprit for what it is. Power is the enemy of liberty, and it’s seductive and subtle ability to convert skeptics into dependents, has most Americans on the dole. We all need to go on a benefits diet, and we need politicians who will implement sound policy rather than practice failure-of-nerve.

Power is the enemy of liberty, and it’s seductive and subtle ability to convert skeptics into dependents, has most Americans on the dole.

The marriage issue illustrates how republicans are not being principled in their pursuit to “represent their constituents”. It’s time we start requiring a higher caliber of discourse and integrity from ourselves rather than stooping to the level of the Alinsky-left. http://www.bestofbeck.com/wp/activism/saul-alinskys-12-rules-for-radicals

Reducing Judgmental Christian Hypocrisy

0
Rob Satrom Self Righteousness
Rob Satrom Self Righteousness

Judgmental Christian hypocrisy seems to be very top of mind to everyday folks that aren’t interested in following Jesus. In fact, I’ve noticed that among America’s pop-culture-influenced millennials, judgmental christian hypocrisy is literally the only impressions they have about Christians.

It’s not a surprise that “the world” considers the hallmark of believers to be judgmental Christian hypocrisy, because I think that Christians very easily drift towards spending 80% of our effort identifying the faults in the world around us while spending only 20% of our effort on self-assessment.

Jesus obviously knew this is an inevitable drift for people, to think too much about the “speck in our neighbor’s eye” and too little about the “plank in our own eye.”

So it’s not just that disciples of Jesus are perceived incorrectly to be judgmental christian hypocrites, it’s that we are essentially doomed to endlessly be drawn towards this mindset.

There are many who are truly, judgmental christian hypocrites, and there is also a coddled notion from unengaged folks that the bible leads to this type of character.

But why do we so easily fall prey to judgmental christian hypocrisy, or pointing out specks in everyone else’s eyes, while ignoring the plank in our own?  And what can be done about it?

The Bible doesn’t frame up Christians vs. non-christians as “Sinners vs. not-as-bad sinners.”  The Bible teaches that all people are under the curse of sin and that the penalty we carry for this sin is eternal death.  True Christians are simply those who’ve placed their faith and trust in Jesus.

True Christians are disciples of Jesus who’ve placed their faith and trust in Him, and pursue obedience of His commands.  Christians are people who have recognized that they are sinners, placed their faith in Jesus’ work on the cross to forgive them, and “walk with Him” in faith and deed.

Most importantly, true Christians need to understand that they are utterly depraved at heart. Their heart is deceitful, and it is only Christ dwelling in them that shines as light.

Thesis: When it comes to our own sins, we have a tendency to dwell on the goodness, mercy and forgiveness of God, and assume people should afford us the same, but when it comes to the sins of others, we too easily mark them as hypocrites.

Reducing Judgmental Christian Hypocrisy:

“What a hypocrite!” my buddy exclaimed. “How can someone claim they’re a Christian and that they honor God, when they spend 100% of their money on themselves and are in big-time debt?” “They’re not a Christian, they’re a Hypocrite!”

While these were not my words, I’ve had these type of thoughts jump through my head in response to all sorts of calamities believers find themselves in.  These type of thoughts pop in my head every time I see fellow disciple of Jesus act foolishly, speak judgmentally, or act hypocritcally.

ALL OF US HAVE A TENDENCY TO WANT GRACE FOR OURSELVES AND JUSTICE FOR EVERYONE ELSE. Click To Tweet

It’s easy to see the duplicity in our managers, co-workers, neighbors, friends, and spouses and there’s an easy tendency to think justice ought be administered to them. Not only do we too easily spot the faults and injustices in others, but we will inherently tend to elevate our own integrity above its true measure. When it comes to our own sins, we have a tendency to dwell on the goodness, mercy and forgiveness of God, and think of how people should afford us the same grace, but when it comes to the sins of others, we too easily mark them as hypocrites.

Not only do we too easily spot the faults and injustices in others, but we will inherently tend to elevate our own integrity above its real merit Click To Tweet

In Romans 12:3, Paul tells believers “do not think of (ourselves) more highly than we ought to think, but think with sober judgement, each according the measure of faith that God has assigned”.

Click To Tweet

I’m no theologian, but in the context of that chapter, God seems to be using Paul to tell us that we need to examine our own lives with sober scrutiny. He also seems to imply that there is a relationship or connection between our ability to see ourselves accurately and the measure of our faith.

there is a relationship or connection between our ability to see ourselves accurately and the measure of our faith romans 12:3 Click To Tweet

It seems that while our tendency is to drift towards wanting justice for others and mercy for ourselves, the more mature our faith is, the more we grasp our depravity. As we develop this awareness, perhaps we’ll not be as infatuated with, or flippant about, the flaws and hypocrisy of others.

When we don’t afford others unmerited favor, we will elevate our own holiness and self righteousness. But by cultivating a healthy respect for our need for grace in light of our utter depravity, we can be transformed into people with tender, merciful hearts that have an easier time showing love and mercy to everyone we encounter.

This realization comes from forming a deep and intimate relationship with our heavenly father through Jesus Christ and working to find the areas of our heart and life that are still sinful and disobedient to God.

The closer we get to Jesus by understanding His holiness, the more we realize how unworthy we are of His grace. Mature Christians have a deeper understanding of the extent of their depravity,  which causes their thankfulness for God’s mercy to be on the tips of their tongues, and on the top of their minds.

The more we become aware of our own sin, the less we’ll find ourselves going on rants about the “stupidity” of other people or about our displeasure with them.

Too often I hear us modern Christians (myself included) talk about how we should have a righteous and Holy anger toward the culture which is purposefully embracing Godlessness and sin. We’ll say things like “we need to stand up for truth” and we’ll speak to our brothers and sisters in Christ about the “awfulness” that’s observable in the world’s flippant dismissal of God. That’s what marks us by judgmental christian hypocrisy.

Rather than speaking or ranting in such a manner, and getting “Fed up”, we should turn to our knees in prayer and continuously ask a couple of questions.

It can be easy to see ourselves with “rose colored glasses” when we’re apathetic in our faith. When we become totally focused on making money, being a parent, and the American day-to-day with plenty and wealth, it can be really easy to become less aware of our own need for grace. When we forget this need for grace, we tend to easily focus on the justice we wish for others.

Here are four practices to cure our tendency to being people marked by judgmental christian hypocrisy.

3 ways to Cultivate our understanding of our own need for grace.

1 – Assess if your life is pointing to Jesus

When we start to examine our lives, hearts, words, and relationships, in light of God’s holiness, we will be humbled.

Examine by asking:

  • Am I a Light to others?
  • Is my life a testimony to the truth and grace of Jesus?
  • Am I relationally engaged in a winsome manner, with those I tend to think deserve my “righteous anger?”

If we don’t make the case through our love, joy, and peace as a “fragrant” type of life in society, then the world will be consumed by darkness. Darkness cannot penetrate light, and it cannot overcome it. John wrote about this to illustrate Jesus coming into the dark world and being the light which shines into the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. His analogy is perfect, because darkness is simply a lack of light, and you can’t “shine” or project darkness, it simply fills the void where light is absent.

Click To Tweet

This means that we need to be a light, akin to a lamp set out to shine in the darkness.

When the darkness of this world is filled with billions of little lights, trying to shine brightly, the darkest areas begin to have a new hope offered to them by the glow; no matter the wickedness, injustice, violence and darkness.

We are called to be a living example, a testimony for the goodness of our savior; as His promises and goodness is displayed in our lives.

This means that we can’t just take our light and “hide it under a bush” OH NO! it musnt be hidden in only our homes, church buildings, and jobs. We must humbly bring it to where the darkness is – which is easier and clearer than you think.

I think asking this question is all about finding out if we are like Jesus, who wasn’t afraid of “guilt by association” as He engaged with notorious sinners. He knew how to be with them, and let His light shine while still not falling prey to the proverbial ways to be sucked into darkness. Be in the world, but not “of” the world.

God provides us opportunities to accomplish His work when we choose to slow down and interact with the souls around us. This doesn’t mean we have to be an extrovert, but it does mean that we’ll start to start asking of people “ought I to interact in a relational manner?” “God, is there an opportunity to care for this person?” or perhaps you start praying for a person.

God provides us opportunities to accomplish His work when we choose to slow down and interact with the souls around us.

You might have a fear of talking with strangers, or you might be super introverted, this doesn’t mean that you wont have the opportunities to notice one person, over time, and have a God-ordained opportunity to allow enough vulnerability for them to see Jesus’ work in your life.

I think this is all about looking around you and seeing if God shows you a person that He wants you to notice. Maybe it’s just one person, but when we bring our light into the lives of someone who only has darkness, it will have an affect.

When we’re working to be a light, we’ll start to identify ways we aren’t relating or shining our lights, which causes us to realize we’ve fallen short in this area. Nothing can humble us more than realizing that we’re missing some of God’s opportunities for us to obey Him in His great commission, often because we’re too self focused, too busy, or just not paying attention.

2 – Examine Where we’re lacking in Holiness.

Sin causes little bits of death, and also causes havoc in our relationship with GOd and with our ability to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Sin will hurt our ability to be a light, sin can “hinder our prayers”, and sin messes with everything in our lives EVEN if we’re saved by God’s grace.

So it’s good to find areas that are not holy, not righteous, and not obedient to Christ yet.

We should ask ourselves, “what hidden sin in my life, that I might not even know about yet, is getting in the way of my ability to build winsome relationships with others or to serve as a living testimony?”  Expose the sin in our lives and hearts.

 

So what can we do about a hidden sin that we don’t even know about, that’s getting in the way of our relationship with God and others? We need to expose the sin in us, so we can clean up after it. There are five primary ways that you can use to expose sin in your life, which can keep you from being righteous and know your need for grace.

Five Primary ways that God will expose our sin:

a – God’s word
b – God’s holy spirit
c – our spouses
d – our christian brothers and sisters
e – corporate teaching & other teaching

Another great way to work on our holiness is to start assessing our lives and praying these two prayers found in the psalms.

Ask God to show you disobedience by praying these two prayers:

Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me and know me, test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You (God) and lead me along the path of everlasting life”.

Psalm 19:13-14 “How can I know the sins lurking inside me? Cleanse me from these hidden faults and keep me 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”.

By praying these two prayers often, He’s shown me where my heart, mouth, and life is does not honor Him.

Reading God’s word, and assessing the gaps between our lives and what it teaches, is a tremendous tool that goes hand-in-hand with the prayers above.

As we increase in holiness, we start to relate better with God and people, and we’ll serve as a better witness to people and we’ll ultimately become more graceful due to our realization for our own need for grace.

Again, this whole post is about helping us see our own need for grace.

3 – Sacrifice to Honor God. Put to work the investment God’s made in you.

We’re often kept spiritually stagnant because we don’t do anything hard that would honor God.

I know I struggle with the question “in light of all I”m blessed with, how do I truly do anything hard for Christ?” What way might God be honored, by trying something hard?

I know I struggle with the question “in light of all I”m blessed with, how do I truly do anything hard for Christ?”

Trying to reach a friend for Christ. Giving to Church, a needy person, or a charity until it brings us to our knees is a tremendous way to honor God. Or how about building something that would honor God, like a ministry of some sort? How about mentoring kids that you have nothing to gain from? How about relationally building into someone that you have nothing to gain from?

Nothing can better show us where we lack, and where God has to come through, then when we take holy risks for God. As we do these types of things, God will bless us, care for us, and we’ll be humbled into deeper dependence on God.

When we depend on God more, we are more aware of our own need for grace and His provision. When we risk nothing for Christ, when we simply preside over the investment that God has given us, there is no need for mind bending faith, or complete reliance.

In America, we have a tendency to honor God in just little ways, or even no way. Look at the parable of the king who gave an investment to three people. One invested big time, putting it to work, and when the king returned He had a huge reward. Then there is the next person who invested it only slightly, who is rewarded just a little. But the one who buried the gift and just sat on it for safeties cause, was punished!

When we put to work the gifts God has given us, then we are rewarded and we honor God more greatly, but it’s also an expression of our faith in the goodness, faithfulness, and mercy of our Heavenly Father. When we invest all that we have for Him, we are saying that we trust HIs promise, and believe in a bigger way.

How Scripture, Mentoring, and Awareness helped me break through

0
Breakthrough tough things in life
Breakthrough tough things in life

When I was in High School, my entire life revolved around sports. I wasn’t interested in being a learner, I didn’t like reading books, I preferred friends and playing outside, and I LOVED playing basketball.

Rob Satrom Basketball Lakeville 1999
Rob Satrom Basketball Lakeville 1999

From my Freshman to Senior year, I played three sports; track, football, and basketball. I was best at football and track, but I played a tremendous amount of basketball. I never missed a day lifting weights, and I never missed a plyometrics training session even while playing in multiple basketball leagues, camps, and teams.

I played so much sports, that I was NEVER fully rested. During my high school years I was an absolute jerk in the mornings and sleeping in was the equivalent to heaven it seemed.

While I was in High School, I was never interested in school, I wanted to sleep my first four classes away, and I was never fully ready until about 1:00pm, which made my grades suffer a ton.

I HATED waking up, and my mornings were always awful….. but they got much much better the day I finally started to drink COFFEE.

It wasn’t until after I quit being an athlete, that my rut of life changed enough for me to try different things such as WORKING, and DRINKING COFFEE.

Every morning I wake up and enjoy the great taste, and addicting feeling from COFFEE. If I could go back in time to when I was in ninth grade, I’m convinced my entire life would have been changed by introducing a cup of coffee to my younger self.

Coffee changed my life in a really good way, because it helped me overcome a tremendous weakness that my faults and behaviors had created.

I’m going a little far here, but coffee has really enhanced my life and allowed me to get much better since I started drinking it because it was a simple step to begin working on a major character flaw I had. I was operating in a manner that would have lead to a pretty low job forecast and my ability to grow would have been absolutely devastated if I didn’t overcome that character flaw.

While I was in public school, that character flaw of tardiness & non-engagement didn’t really matter because I could sweet talk the detention attendant as well as keep my grades hovering above absolutely failing. To this day, I’m surprised how I actually graduated because I LITERALLY don’t remember doing ANY homework my senior year in High School.

I had a serious problem, but I just brushed it off during my high school years because it didn’t really matter. But when I finally started to work at the restaurant I was at and then the retail store, it became a hinderance. It wasn’t until someone really exposed my character flaw through loving but authentic feedback, that I started to manage some of these weaknesses.

So I wanna talk about this idea that we all have flaws about us that we’ve become self deceived about…. there are things about the way we interact and relate to people that’s handicapping our ability to relate well and then there’s some tough realities that we often don’t want to confront about our propensity to GET THINGS done and achieve…

What are the things about you that are kind of like food on your face that you don’t know about, or holes in your pants that you’re unaware of? Do you like going about life totally unaware about much of the food on your face? Are you humble enough to admit these faults and then get to work to improve them?

Imagine this for a minute:

If you were to email a totally anonymous survey out to 20-30 of your closest friends, coworkers, leaders, and family members, how would they respond to these questions:

What’s it like to be around you when you’re at your best?
What’s it like to be around you when you’re at your worst?
What’s this person’s critics say about them, even if you don’t agree?
Does this person authentically build relationships with people?
Is this person aware and humble?
Does this person avoid excuses and get things done?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you in this person’s ability to improve on each of these?

How would you react to hearing this feedback which was given anonymously?

Back to sports:

When I was in High School, I was such a jock that I never missed a day of lifting weights or a plyometric workout even while I juggled performing in football, track, and basketball. My entire families life was beholden to my needs and schedule, and I developed into a really selfish and arrogant person.

During my 9th-12th grade years, I had some terribly unhelpful character flaws that were allowed to fester and languish because I refused to accept the reality concerning them. I didn’t think I had anything that needed changing or working on in my life, because things were going so awesome for me in sports.

I was so focused on doing what I wanted in sports, that I had become totally uninterested in learning, engaging in school, GOING to school, being on time, and staying awake when I was there. I was floating on through with barely passing grades, and totally unable to manage my own schedule or workloads. My Mom made sure I was wherever I needed to be, and then I floated through the rest.

I had developed some major character flaws that everyone else was experiencing, but I was too proud and arrogant to allow someone to speak into my life. I viewed other people’s advice as something below Me.

It wasn’t until I started to engage with scripture again, and had a good Christian mentor, that I started to recognize and acknowledge that there were some seriously broken things inside my character, which were killing my integrity.

My attitude when I was 19 was so arrogant and unaware, that I remember saying outlaid to people “We’ve done our learning, I’ve gotten through school, now I just need to go to college and get my degree and I’ll make a ton of money”. I can still remember it…being 19 and being convinced that I knew it all and “I’ve done my learning”.

My relationship with my Heavenly Father was ignited when I started to read the scriptures more because as I read them I realized that PRIDE is the king of all sins.

Pride means that we believe our way is best. We don’t invite external feedback, advice, wisdom, or coaching. We lift our heads above others, and believe that our way is the best way.

The core of my problem was that my pride and lack of character had strained my relationship with the outside world, and the outside world’s relationship with me was no better. Things needed to change, or else I’d be unable to develop into a more fully orbed person.

But it all started with allowing someone to speak into my life.

What is it that you’re doing wrong, or less than optimal, and it’s all about a character flaw that you’re inept at identifying, accepting, or conquering?

What would your biggest critics say about you, even if you don’t agree?

How do people characterize you, or what is their perception of you in terms of performance and relationships?

You see, the first step in having a relationship with God – which leads to eternal life through faith in Jesus – starts by setting aside your will and ways for doing life.

It says in the Bible that God actually OPPOSES the Proud (James 4:6). If we hang on to our own pride and stubbornness, we’ll not only have a life marked by strained relationships and unrealized potential, but we’ll ultimately be cast into the lake of fire when we face God and tell Him that we refused to humbly submit and repent from our ways.

Three critical things that impacted my “Wake”:

1 – Develop my obedience to God

The first is that I viewed my life to be almost like a Video game. I started to see that reading and living out God’s principles would help my life build momentum – which is kind of like “leveling up in a video game”. I knew that I wanted to build momentum to head upwards and forward towards greater careers and healthier relationships with my friends, family, and coworkers. But this all started with trying to install the commands of God into my mind and heart by reading and applying the Bible. But nobody is able to start that endeavor until they submit to the idea that God’s ways are better than our own ways. So the first thing that changed my life was reading the Bible and asking God to help me integrate it into my mind, my heart, and my behaviors.

2 – Humbly submitted to a Christian Mentor

The second thing that really helped me start to relate better with people and achieve more, was to get a Christian mentor and invite them to speak into your life. The guy that really start this process for me was my general manager that I worked for at Best Buy, a great Christian man named Chad Mcdermott.

I’ll never forget Chad. When I first met Him, He had an authentic desire to meet you right where you were, and to try and lift you up. SO often the managers in organizations think that their career will advance through self exaltation and jockeying. But the best leaders, like Chad, know that servant leadership is far more effective because they are committed to serving and growing their people. The best analogy is that self-exulting managers will stand on the backs and shoulders of their people to lift themselves up for praise, promotion, or financial rewards while the servant leader kneels down and tells His people to achieve more by standing on their backs and shoulders. Chad gained my respect immediately because He slapped a “Ten” on my forehead, and started to find ways to serve Me through challenging me to live up to that expectation.

Chad gave me authentic feedback, and also modeled to me what it meant to live out my faith in the work environment.

I gave Chad permission to speak into my life, and work life. I tried to learn from Him and I allowed Him to criticize and hold me accountable for things. I let down my pride to let Him mentor Me, which was a huge step.

So the second thing that I did was find a wise, biblical, Christian mentor to speak into my life, rather than acting like I had it all figured out.

So I started reading and trying to apply scripture and I got a Christian mentor. But the third thing came later and was one of the most helpful things I’ve ever done.

3 – Exposed my blindspots through a formal awareness exercise.

When I eventually went to work at Eagle Brook Church in Lino Lakes Minnesota, I had the opportunity to go through a formal “awareness exercise” where I invited about 30 of my peers, leaders, family, and friends to provide COMPLETELY anonymous feedback about Me in order to help me become aware.

They were asked
-What’s it like to be around Rob when He’s at His best?
-What’s it like to be around Rob when he’s at His worst?
-What’s Rob’s greatest critics say about Him even if you don’t agree?
-Does Rob authentically build relationships with people?
-Is Rob aware and humble?
-Does Rob avoid excuses and get things done?
-On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you Rob can improve on each of these?

The feedback, mixed with scripture and Christian mentoring, really put the screws to my character. The results where absolutely haunting to hear – and that was 4 years ago when I did that.

To this day, my weaknesses that I became Highly aware of during that awareness exercise have been a priority for me to manage and fix. I”m so grateful for the opportunity I had to be able to really hear the voices of the people in my life about my ability to relate to them and my ability to get things done.

Conclusion:

Reading Scripture, Getting a Christian Mentor, and then going through a formal awareness exercise of sorts are the three things that helped me most with my character flaws – and I’d encourage you to do the same.

I want to end this thought with a verse that guided me through this process.

Three Important Proverbs about feedback:

  • Fools have no interest in understanding, they only want to air their own opinions.
  • Better to be criticized by the wise than to be praised by a fool.

Three terribly important catalysts in my life

0

There was a major shift in my life that happened about 13 years ago. I had just come back to work at Best Buy after leaving for a year to try my hand at a different sales job.

The long freeway that stretches from Milwaukee to Minneapolis is a beautiful drive with valleys, pasture land, and beautiful farm country. As I headed home from visiting my little cousins, I popped in my Dad’s John Maxwell CD he’d lent me for the trip. I had a new desire inside of me, I wanted to try and develop my potential into actual professional talent.

1 – Focus on building relationships

John Maxwell started out by sharing that nothing in life is more important than relationships.

Nothing in life is more important than relationships.

He was giving a talk about how it takes energy and intentionality in order to develop relationships so that you’ll be able to go further in life. It was such rudimentary stuff, but it intrigued me because i knew that I was naturally gifted at connecting with people.

It takes time, energy, and intentionality to build relationships

While I knew that I was probably hard wired to do this well, I also knew that I was coming out of a period of foolishness in my life when I’d been really arrogant, self-focused, and sacrificed relationships at the altar of self-exultation. I knew that I hadn’t been relating well with people, that I had a tendency to “ding” my relationships, and it was all because of my old sinful ways. But things were different, I had repented of my old desires, and God was doing something new in me – forging new attitudes, desires, and opportunities.

Maxwell shared that while relationships are the key to going further in life, He also shared a little tool He uses to try and get better at building relationships. He said He uses what’s called the “101% Rule”.

Basically, when He meets someone, He asks them their name, and then asks questions about this person until He finds out the 1% that they have in common and then He gives it 100% of HIs attention. The whole idea is that you engage with people through genuine curiosity, and find common ground that might create a connection. When you create a connection, and you show thoughtful remembering, you’ll build a bridge where trust can exist.

Maxwell gave lots of other advice, but those two principles really stuck with me:

1 – Nothing matters more than relating well with people
2 – If you dig to find common ground through questions, you’ll be able to make a connection with people which is a bridge to establish trust.

That time in the car was a pivotal moment for me, but it was certainly only the beginning of what will be a lifelong process to have integrity concerning what I now call my “wake”.

2 – Focus on improving your “wake” of both relationships and tasks

Something that I learned from Henry Cloud, through the book “Integrity”, is that we should look at our life like we’re a boat moving through the water. As we go through life at work, home, school, or anywhere, we leave a two sided wake like what’s left behind a ship.

There are two sides to this wake, one side is our ability to build good relationships and the other is how we get things done. How do we leave people as we go through life? And are we marked by executing well and getting things done in an excellent manner?

This put a new sophistication to what I’d learned from John Maxwell, and I’ve found it particularly helpful as I go through life.

3 – Get feedback to become aware of your blindspots

As I set out on my journey to develop better relationships and to be marked by executing well, I found I kept self-jeopardizing my results. I felt like I was unable to fully make the breakthroughs in my life that allowed me to get traction concerning my pursuit of improving my wake. That is, until some really critical things happened in my life.

The first was that I had a stint working in a culture of awareness, continous improvement, and feedback. I took part in multiple assessments that provided feedback to what I would call my “blindspots”.

This was the final tool that really helped me get real about what was preventing me from having stellar relationships and executing well. On two separate occasions, I sent out an anonymous survey to 30 or so people that were close to me and were “for” me. I then sent them an electronic, completely anonymous survey, which had the following questions:

-What’s it like to be around Rob when he’s at his best?
-What’s it like to be around Rob when he’s at your worst?
-What’s this person’s critics say about them, even if you don’t agree?
-Does this person authentically build relationships with people?
-Is this person aware and humble?
-Does this person avoid excuses and get things done?
-On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you in this person’s ability to improve on each of these?

Getting the result from that survey equipped me with the perspective of people all around me, which exposed my blind spots. Nothing was more helpful than this exercise, and it catapulted my life ever since.

Bill Hybels says that blind spots are areas that we think we excel at, but everyone around us knows we’re very lacking at. The biggest problem with these blindspots is that they are unknown to us, which means that we don’t have the slightest clue they’re an issue!

So concentrating on relationships and trying to establish trust with others through relational investment was the first catalyst in my professional transformation. Framing up my integrity as a two fold wake of tasks and relationships added a sophistication to the way I thought about myself. But the final thing that helped get traction in my pursuit of these things was getting outside feedback to reveal to me my blindspots causing me to remain stuck.

These three things helped me tremendously, and I figured I’d share it just in case it can help anyone else out there!

Three Major Catalysts for my Growth:

1 – Invest in relationships all around you.

Get to know people, understanding what really makes them tick by asking lots of questions to understand their world and look for common ground. When you find common ground, give it your attention and try to remember some of it from contact to contact, so that you can build trust over time.

2 – Focus on your life’s “wake.”

Are you relating well with people and executing well? Do you get things done and leave the people around you better off?

3 – Identify your blindspots through feedback.

You could do a formal feedback exercise such as the EQ 360, or even contact Me as your consultant and I can help you. But the bottom line is that if we can start to get an idea of our blindspots that keep us from gaining traction in our relationships and tasks, we can then do something about them and grow.

How bullies drove me to football & how it blessed and cursed my life

0
Robsatrom.com football bully
Robsatrom.com football bully

5-21-06187

What is it in us that wants others to gawk at our achievements, desire us physically, long for our affection, lust for our bodies, shutter at our disapproval, or bend beneath our will?

We want people to think we’re pretty, good looking, badass, smart, funny, cool, fun, sexy, hot, and we really want people to envy us.

In short, I think we all want people to worship us. It’s a seductive pull that’s linked with sinful pride. Pride was the first sin in the garden of eden, it’s what caused Lucifer to rebel against God to “be like the most High”, and it causes us to gravitate towards self-exultation throughout our life.

I’ve struggled with this desire to have people worship me in odd ways. I’ve done some thinking, and I want to tell you a story…..

Since I was a little boy, I’ve struggled with the temptation of lifting myself above other people, rather than humbly serving them, and lifting them up.

I want recognition, I want praise, I want everyone to know it’s my idea, I want people to think I’m the smartest, and I want the glory! I want other people to pale in comparison to me, which is an evil way to think.

It’s taken me decades to be transformed into a new creation, and to have God’s Holy Spirit unveil some of the unhealthy and ungodly attitudes, thoughts, and perspectives I’ve been plagued with.

I want to tell you a story about how my successful athletic career was like a trojan horse for the destructive mentality of self-exultation.

My Successful Athletic Career was a Trojan Horse for Pride:

I was relentlessly bullied for my size

5-21-06414

I was a 3rd grader. As I sat on our pale blue carpet watching television, I remember the doorbell ringing. I ran down the steps and saw that it was one of the kids from the neighborhood that I’d had kind of a love/hate relationship with.

He invited me to come down the street to our friend Jimmy’s house because He said that they were getting everybody together to play.

My heart fluttered a little bit, because up to this point, almost every kid that lived around me had been bullying me pretty badly, in that sinister self-serving manner.

Most of them would be really nice to me when they wanted a friend to play with one-on-one. They would come to my house and want to play, to which I would pretty much always oblige. Whether we’d play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mario Brothers 2 on my Nintendo, or trade football cards, these kids wanted to spend time with me and be my friend, particularly when it was just us.

But when there’d be another kid, suddenly a new thing became fun for them, teasing Me about my size.

When I first moved to the neighborhood in kindergarten, the three or five kids I met were great friends to me. I’m not sure when making fun of me became such a big deal, but I know it started on the playground and football fields during recess at school.

For some reason, the fact that I was about 40% taller and heavier than the other kids became fodder for the mean kids to tease me. And these kids were unmerciful in their attacks, and there wasn’t much I could do or say as and they’d revel in the glory associated with verbally tearing someone else down.

The kids started to call me Tubbo, because they told me I was fat. I suddenly had to deal with a constant threat of some pretty terrible bullying, at any time, which hurt me deeply.

After this started on the playground, the kids that had been my friends for years, started bullying me whenever they weren’t one-on-one with me.

I’ll never forget how I came home and wept almost everyday during my second and third grade years. IN fact, as I write this, it’s causing me to tear up, because it’s a particular pain that I’ve battled with for many years. My Dad would come home from work, and He’d lay down in my bed with me, and just reassure Me as I wept into my pillow. The first three years of school were filled with such an uneasy feeling because out of nowhere, my day could be interrupted with random terrorist bully attacks, and a crowd of kids feeding the bully with laughs, head nods, and inaction.

I’d been experiencing years of pain, which was particularly devastating because most of the kids that I’d built friendships with were being two-faced backstabbers. They would get especially mean and their attack frequency would increase whenever they needed to fill up their own self confidence. Their need to puff themselves up often came because each one of them had an absent father, a broken home, and were hurt by divorce. The kids that hurt me, were definitely kids that were hurt. The meanest kids were always the ones who had the most horrific stuff going on in their life, while my parents laid a strong foundation of love, faith, care, and respect.

My bullies need to puff themselves up often came because each one of them had an absent father

So amidst this pain, having my friend ring my doorbell to invite me over to Jimmy’s house was awesome, and I was excited that the group had found it in their hearts to want to invite me over to play.

I went and asked my Mom if I could play at Jimmy’s house, she wanted to know who was all over there and wondered if Jimmy’s parents would be home. I told her that I didn’t know, so she said I had to stay outside the house rather than play inside. I reluctantly said ok, and dashed into the garage to jump on my bike.

I remember peddling fast with the anticipation of getting at some fun, then as I pulled up I noticed things were a little weird.

Only two of the promised 5-7 kids were outside. They had met me halfway on their bikes and were telling me how I needed to come into the garage where they were playing. I told them that if the garage was open, I’d be able to, because my Mom didn’t want me to go in Jimmy’s house today (Jimmy’s step-dad was MEAN and there’s way more to write about this situation).

I pulled up and the two escorts told me that I had to go into the garage through the front door, because the garage door had to stay shut. My heart sank a little bit because I knew that it meant playing with them, meant I’d have to disobey my Mom, something I really didn’t like doing because of my conscience.

So i pulled my bike up, and asked them if they’d be willing to open up the garage so I could play. I faintly remember the two guys on their bikes standing next to me, arguing about why I “just needed to go in the front door and into the garage”. When I protested over and over, they suddenly yelled “GET HIM”.

They opened up the garage door, and Jimmy stepped out of the front door holding a stainless steel cooking pot with two hands. About four other kids that were in 5th and 6th grade (I was in 2nd I think) came running out of the garage with super soaker squirt guns.

I jumped on my bike and I slowly started to pedal because I wasn’t sure if this was a joke or if they were really going to just shoot me with water. I wouldn’t care about getting wet, because even if it’s mean, I didn’t really care about an impromptu water gun attack. The thing that caused me to start to panic was the fact that Jimmy was walking toward me with this stainless steel cooking pot, which He was trying to steady as He headed in my direction. That pot obviously had something in it that Jimmy really didn’t want to spill on himself, and by the way He was carrying it, I knew that it wasn’t just regular water.

By now, the kids with the super soakers were within 15 feet of me, and they started to squirt me. As they did, I realized that what they were shooting at me wasn’t water, but urine. I started to yell at them “are you seriously squirting pee at me? Did you pee in those squirt guns?” They started to yell at me, and calling me names. Then a total of about 7 kids were encroaching as I started peddling away with all my might.

Jimmy got within about 15 feet of me, and as a last-ditch effort, He flung the contents of the cooking pan at me. Steam went puffing into the air as the boiling hot urine was hit with the coolness of the atmosphere. I realized that Jimmy had boiled urine and had intended to dump it on me. Hardly a drip from the pan hit me, but the super soakers had gotten pee all over me.

The biggest, oldest kid had been sprinting after me on foot while I biked, and He screamed something at me as I finally pulled out of His reach. I really thought He was going to rip me off my bike and throw me to the ground.

I biked straight to my house and I’ll never forget how that rejection felt. Looking back I realized that my main emotion was sadness rather than anger. I always hesitated fighting back because I really enjoyed playing with each of these kids, and I knew that they’d be back the next day to be my “friend”.

My life was marked by an unending pit in my stomach, loathing the next verbal attacks which happened only when there was a crowd.

While I was bullied incessantly because I was big, the bullies always had the problem that I was quite dangerous material. If they teased, they always had to run away fast because if I got my paws on them, and I wanted to, I could literally tackle them, jack them with a push to the chest, squeeze the life out of them, and pretty much crush them by getting on top of them. This meant that only the little fast guys and kids that could throw well, would continue being jerks to me.

Not only did the kids bully me about my size, but the most fun thing to do during recess was to participate in the all-school (boys) two-handed touch football games out on the field next to the playground. We played football every single day during recess, well at least every other boy did.

I’ll never forget, each captain would start picking teams and they would intentionally never pick me, and they would tell me I couldn’t play. This went on every day for about three or four weeks until I got the message that they wouldn’t involve me. The kids were brutal about it “your too fat to play football! you’re too slow and you suck at running!”

I believed their lies, and truly believed that I wasn’t worthy of playing football because I was too fat, too slow, and was such a complete and utter failure.

But then something happened……

By the third grade, we were all so into football that the beginning of the Rosemount Area Athletic Association’s tackle football program was legendary. Third grade was the first year that we could play, and every single boy that had a pulse was signed up for it.

I remember asking my parents, and they told Me I could definitely play.

When I told Jimmy, He told me He wasn’t sure if they’d let me play because I was too fat and slow. I remember feeling the most uneasy I’d ever felt about something in my entire life.

The first step was to get fitted for football gear. My Dad took me out on an early Saturday morning to get fitted for gear. It was at a random storage shed out in an industrial park in Rosemount and the place was musty, filled with every single 3rd, 4th, and 5th grader in the city, and the sun was shining. This was the start of one of the most embarrassing things of my entire life (up to that point).

First off, they had me try on pants. “What size do you where?” asked the guy. “The biggest ones you got!” my Dad shouted. I blushed and looked down in despair. They threw out the pants, and the guy told me to “pull em on to see if they fit”. As I tried to pull up the pants, it was quickly apparent they would not fit at all – not even close. “Well that’s the biggest pair we got!” the guy said, and He sent me to the next line.

Then came the ceremony with the shoulder pads – but the same thing happened. They handed me the biggest pair they had, and I couldn’t even get them over my head.

Last was the helmet. They made me try and pull on the biggest helmet about 4 different times with different padding inside of it. Each time they nearly ripped my ears off as my Dad and the coach pushed. pulled, and wrestled to get the helmet onto my skull, but No helmet fit me.

The coaches told me I had to wait till the following day when they would be handing out equipment to the older kids at the High School. So we went home without any pads.

Later that Day, Jimmy, and the gang all had their gear on and where playing out in His front yard. I was so mad that I couldn’t even talk to them, they all laughed at me and teased me because they’d heard I was too big for everything they tried on me.

“Tubbo! What did you think was gonna happen?”

I went to the High School fitting room, scared that they’d never find stuff that fit me. I was pretty encouraged that they found me pants and shoulder pads, but the white helmets they kept trying weren’t fitting at all.

Finally, after none of the volunteer coaches knew what to do, the man in charge showed up. He stepped forward wearing all Rosemount football garb, and He looked tough. “Robbie Satrom?” He barked out, “Come here you big horse”, and He walked me into a back room. This was coach Tim Conboy, the head coach of the black team and the defensive coordinator for the varsity football team, I was flabbergasted. He sized up my head, walked back into a dark hallway filled with gear, and He came back and said “here, this one’s gonna fitchy’a”. It was one of the blue rosemount varsity helmets – I was completely amazed. They put it on my head and it fit absolutely perfect! Coach Conboy gave me an encouraging pat on the shoulder and we headed out of the building.

My Dad and I drove home, and I was super excited to show the gang my helmet which I thought was freaking AWESOME! As I showed it to them, they were kind of quiet about it, and pretty much ignored it. I was glad I finally had equipment that fit, but I was terrified about the first day of football practice because I was convinced that my inability to run long distances, and my comparatively slow speed, meant they would kick me off the team.

Before we got put into teams or anything, we had a week long training camp.

We entered into the training camp where the coaches were running drills and teaching us the basics of the game. I remember some of the kids running through the drills super fast, hitting the bags hard, and I felt completely worthless.

After that week of camp, we were supposed to find out what team we would be on during weekend. Jimmy got drafted almost right away on friday, to the “black team”, which He informed me was the best team because it was the team that the varsity football coach would be coaching and His son would play on. Jimmy went on and on about these kids named Tim Conboy and Jake Del Pino – who were the toughest and meanest football players in Rosemount.

Friday passed, and I received no phone call. On Saturday, I called one of my other friends to see if He had been drafted to a team yet, and He told me He had. All 5 of my closest buddies got drafted that Saturday. As I rode my bike around the neighborhood checking in on them, I’d keep biking past my house to stick my head in the door and ask my parents if I’d gotten a phone call; but there was nothing.

Saturday evening came and went, and then Sunday started up. We went to Church as we did every Sunday, and I returned with great anticipation to a voicemail or something; but again, there was nothing.

That’s when I rode my bike over to Jimmy’s house, and He started to tell me that He heard I was too fat to play, and the coaches were trying to figure out how to tell me that I couldn’t play football.

I was absolutely sick. I wanted to throw up. I was so sad, but I didn’t dare show any weakness to Jimmy.

It wasn’t until late Sunday that I finally got a call to tell me I had been put on the yellow team. My dad thanked the man on the phone, and I quick called Jimmy to tell Him.

Jimmy immediately told me “the yellow team is the worst team and that that’s where they put guys like me. My heart sank again, but I knew not to believe everything Jimmy said, but His comments consistently caused me to frame things up in an unhealthy manner.

Even if you know not to believe a bully, their comments can cause you to frame things up in an unhealthy manner

First Day of Football Practice:

The day finally arrived for practice! The day I would finally meet my coach, my teammates, and have my very first tackle football experience. I was mortified with fear, and I was physically sick to my stomach.

I remember that putting on my gear was pretty easy, and I couldn’t stop laughing about the nut-cup. After gearing up, we jumped in my mom’s car and headed to the school. It took us about 10 minutes to get to the school where practice would take place, and when we pulled up, my mom got out of the car and said “alright Rob, let’s go!”.

She got out of the car, but I froze.

She stooped down, and peaked her head back into the door, and told Me “come on Rob, it’s gonna to be FUN! You’re gonna to love it!” But I just stared down into the floor and cried.

I was so scared of failing. I believed all the things that every kid had told me about myself, and I was convinced that I was about to face the most devastating rejection of my life up to this point.

My mom got back in the car and tried to comfort Me, I think I might remember there being some prayer involved, and she even told me I didn’t have to go if I didn’t want to. But I just sunk into the seat even more, I wanted nothing to do with this, and I told my mom I didn’t want to play anymore.

By this time, the coach had noticed that I wasn’t coming out of the car. Most of the team was already there and checked in. I was pretty much the last kid, which made it even worse for me.

I’ll never forget this moment.

Coach Haugee came up about 20 yards from my car and yelled “Are you Robbie?”. Although I was scared, I wouldn’t ever subject myself to letting a situation get even worse after attention was already called to me, so I stepped out of the car.

As I walked up, coach Haugee blew His whistle. “Everybody come here for a minute! Come here, come here, gather up!”

Coach Haugee put His arm around me, faced the team, and pulled His hat on backwards as He shouted:

“everybody, this here is Robbie Satrom, He’s a football player and He’s gonna be one of the best football players around!, and He’s going to help us win football games. I want you all to help welcome Him because we’re lucky to have Him. You see Robbie here was THE number-one-draft pick of the entire football program. Every single team wanted Him, but damnit, He’s on our team! so lets Give him a round of applause”

I was stunned.

They all cheered and clapped for me. Every fear subsided and I jogged out to them and they all gave me high fives. The coach blew his whistle and we were off to our first practice.

This moment in my life was both a blessing and a curse. This gave me a sense of purpose, but it wasn’t necessarily a Godly purpose because my identity started to be found in my ability to not only prove to the bullies that I could play football, but now I wanted to smash the mouths of every kid that had ever been mean to me.

It was funny, the yellow team had some of the nicest kids on it and I loved each one of the them. Our coach was an absolute nut for smash-mouth football. He toughened us up so hard, punished us so much, made us run up-downs for every single mistake, but I absolutely loved it.

While most football coaches were kind of smart and they’d help their kids understand the game, coach Haugee was helping us get disciplined, tough, and understand the fundamentals of darn-good football.

I remember that when He’d catch the ball carriers running too high rather than running low, He’d blow His whistle and scream at ‘em “Start walking like a duck dammit!” and He’d send them “duck walking” around the baseball diamond while He’d make the rest of us do up-downs till they returned (which are just burpees done really hard). Coach Haugee was tough, and I loved what a badass He was.

Not only that, but He we ended every practice with hitting drills, where we would “crack some skulls” and go one on one. This was my favorite drill because not only was I big and strong, but I could really pop kids with my hits and nothing was more satisfying than beating someone.

I definitely needed work, and Haugee rode me really hard. He didn’t let me get away with anything, and He was constantly punishing me for mistakes by running and doing hundreds and hundreds of up-downs.

Coach Haugee a great coach because He cared about each of us and he was really tough. He yelled and swore at us all the time, which might seem a little extreme for a bunch of third grade boys, but it helped us all develop greatly. I can still see the white foam of spit welling up in the corners of His lips while His backwards cap clinched his sun-worn skull “Run HARDER! RUN HARDER! DON’T BE A WUSSY!” He was probably a little over the top, but He was helping us develop grit as well as any other coach I ever had.

Coach Haugee was trying to make us tough, and the number one thing He’d do to help with that, was end practice with a game of what He called “Smear the Queer”. He was no bigot, this language was just part of the culture back then unfortunately.

We would circle the whole team up in a large ring and place two players inside the middle. One would carry the ball and the other would tackle, and you had 20 seconds to stay on your feet.

This drill was an all-out war and we were unusually violent little 3rd graders. All of us refused to run away from the tackler, we’d just square up and try to run each other over. We played very, very, very violent football. I remember kids would get hurt, but it was one of the greatest outlets for me. I loved that drill because my goal was to be the toughest, biggest, most dominant football player possible.

For years I had been downtrodden, teased, bullied, and dominated by the kids at school. But football gave me a battle field to challenge them, and I couldn’t wait to have my chance to nail the kids that had tormented me. I ached for the opportunity to cleave the bullies and knock the SNOT out of ‘em.

I ached for the opportunity to cleave the bullies and knock the SNOT out of ‘em.

Coach Haugee made me practice both offense and defense because of how dominant I was. He continuously encouraged Me and rode me really hard to excel. While I wasn’t a polished football player then, I was way better than most of the kids and I had a newly planted desire to get as good as possible.

That year I remember getting nearly a quarter of the tackles on defense and totally killing kids on offense. Our team was a solid 6-4 team, and I was totally dominant. The kids at school changed their tone, and Jimmy was forced to start to respect me quite a bit more. Jimmy changed it up quite a bit too, particularly because when we played the black team, He saw first-hand that I was a dominant player, and He didn’t dare try to come near me.

I had a new love, a new passion, and a fire inside of me to become the best football player I could become. This continued until I entered college on a full ride, division 1 football scholarship.

The problem was that my desire to improve wasn’t fueled by a desire to win games, to be the best I could be, or any other altruistic reason.

The problem was that I was trying to lift myself above other people, by dominating them.

5-21-06171

I wanted to be the best, and I cared far too much about being accepted as a phenomenal athlete.

As the Hip-Hop artist Lacrea has said in the past “If you live for their approval, you’ll die from their rejection”.

In my teen and young adult years, my selfish, arrogant, rage-fueled motivation caused Me to live for a time as a wicked fool. During this time, I walked around ready to fight people, I damaged good relationships, I was boastful, and oozing with pride. As I was riddled with these evil characteristics, my relationship with my parents, my friends, girls, coaches, and almost the law, were damaged.

Our desires and motivations in life matter quite a bit. Envy or covetousness is a particularly sinister sin because it’s jealousy that causes us to act in some of the most irrational and destructive ways.

My self-focused, prideful, motivation to dominate other people was really all about jealousy.

In fact, I’ve come to wonder if my reaction to the bullying was rooted more in my jealousy and covetousness for their admiration, as it was in defiance of their hurtful remarks. I tend not to give this thinking too much credence when it comes to a third grade little boy, but in an adult or a teenager, a negative response to a bully might sometimes be rooted in our jealousy or envy for the approval of others.

as an adult or a teenager, a negative response to a bully might sometimes be rooted in our jealousy or envy for the approval of others.

I had the love of my parents, I had some really good friends that didn’t tease me, but my desire was often to ignore what I did have, and focus on what I didn’t.

That’s a whole other discussion, that I don’t want to have right now. For now, I’d like to simply say that my earthly desire for fame and admiration was probably rooted in my overcompensating to the rejection associated with bullying.

my earthly desire for fame and admiration was probably rooted in my overcompensating to the rejection associated with bullying.

As I’ve tried to analyze my life, I’ve come to see that this inner desire to lift myself up has caused me much pain over the years. Puffing myself up, lifting myself above others, holding my own needs above others, and dominating other people is overtly anti-Jesus.

I was a Christian, but I was using a desire to dominate others in the sports arena, which would eventually come spilling into my non-athletic life in my late teen years.

What unfolded later in my life will come in a later post, but for now I want to simply tell you that I’ve struggled with pride big time. What was even more sinister about the outlet of football, is that not only can I lift myself up by violently dominating other people, but rage, fury, and anger are things that players often use both in training and out on the field.

Mixing self-focused pursuits with rage, anger, and fury ends up transforming a once delightful person into someone that’s squarely opposed to God. God told us in His word that He opposes the proud, the haughty, and those who rush to violence. I was surely proud, and when there was an absence of the arena of sports, my need to elevate myself through physical dominance meant I’d get into fights and ruin some friendships.

God told us in His word that He opposes the proud, the haughty, and those who rush to violence.

I’m sure there are other people who used football or other physical sports as an outlet to “level the playing field” against bullies. In some respects, I think this is an appropriate outlet, but I’d like to warn people to look out for these warning signs to identify when you’ve installed some harmful thinking into your life.

But trying to lift yourself up can be done in many different ways. In fact, anytime we’re trying to build up ourselves, our image, our ego, our own confidence, we need to be very careful.

Ask yourself these questions to see if you’re wrestling with this same self-exulting pride thing I do.

0 – are there people “you can’t stand?”

1 – Do you like to see others fail?

2 – Do you need listen to certain music such as heavy metal or hip-hop to get “raged” before you workout or play?

3 – Do you find yourself walking around trying to appear like a badass?

4 – do you include other people by sacrificing your own “insider-ness”?

0 – do you like to keep your own clique tight and then work as a group to be the “cool kids”

0 – are you one of the “popular kids?”

0 – would you consider yourself an encouraging person to all people around you?

5 – do you use cliques, friendships, and positional authority in order to lord it over people?

6 – do you find yourself trying to “act cool” and are really concerned with how you’ll look to people?

7 – do you dislike when people “make you look dumb” by associating with them?

8 – do you create a “them and us” mentality, or do you try and involve as many people as possible in things?

9 – do you spas-out often in sports, getting really mad when things don’t go right?

10 – do you get in fights? do you have rivalries?

11 – how important REALLY is the acceptance of certain people for you?

12 – do you ignore good friends in order to pursue less-healthy friendships with people who you consider “cooler” or more attractive?

0 – do you play the girlfriend/boyfriend game of continuously trying to trade up for a newer “hotter”, more popular, or “better” one?

0 – do you toy with the hearts of friends or significant others?

13 – do you sellout people in order to advance your own agenda?

14 – Are you a bully? Are you mean to people? Do you pick on people even if you’re “Just kidding”?

15 – do you talk about other people when they’re not around in a manner other than an uplifting one? Do you gossip?

16 – do you help others get suspicious of someone else, or do you always rush to their rescue and “insert trust” rather than suspicion?

17 – are you hesitant to celebrate a successful co-worker’s victories in order to hold them down?

18 – do you refuse to help advocate for a co-worker because you think you’re better than them?

19 – do you horde talent in your management teams rather than let your successful people leave you to help in other areas?

20 – do you tend to look at the bad things about people primarily?

21 – do you make life hard for people at school because you secretly “can’t stand them?”

22 – are there people at school that you can’t stand?

How Fearing God Killed Apathy in my Life

0

There’s a huge epidemic I’v seen that’s constricted itself around the neck of many of us Christians; a plague of apathy which results in a lukewarm faith which is neither “hot” nor “cold”.

7 Indicators of an Apathetic Faith:

When my faith is being riddled with apathy, these are some of the indicators:

1 – I’m not asking the question “How will God judge my stewardship of what He’s given me for the past two weeks?” I start viewing my time and money simply for my own consumption, and stop trying to maximize the investment for God’s kingdom.

2 – Entertainment and frivolous stuff is the primary thing my mind is set upon throughout the week. I’m not asking the question “what percentage of my thought life was dedicated to my own entertainment, pleasure, or enjoyment?”

3 – There are “acceptable sins” that I allow in my life, because I’m not using the “mirror” of scripture to examine myself. Sins like lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath (wanting to payback people what they deserve), jealousy, pride, anger, irritability, etc.

4 – I’m often formulating opinions, principles, ideas, theology, and concepts on my own rather than asking “how do I know this to be true?” and “what does God tell us in His word about this?”

5 – I’m not talking to my heavenly Father, who is a person that has asked me to continuously dialogue with Him throughout my day. He asks us to cast our cares upon Him, confess our sins to Him, let our needs be known to Him, praise Him, and worship Him. But when I’m apathetic, I’m hardly ever talking with Him through prayer – and my prayers get awfully selfish and little.

6 – My priorities are not aligned with Godly priorities. The first priority needs to be my relationship with God, then spouse, then kids, then my faith community, then my work, then other things like health etc. When I’m apathetic, I’ve spent my time, money, thought life, and energy in a different order.

7 – I’m uninterested in the spiritual well-being, and eternal destiny of others. When I’m apathetic, I tend to just blast by people, rather than taking interest in them, considering them, loving them, encouraging them, praying for them, or being concerned for their salvation.

What is it that allows us to go about our lives so flippantly, totally living an apathetic Christian life?

I believe Apathy happens because we forget to cultivate our fear of the Lord.

Solomon wrote that “The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10) and then Paul told Christians to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) and throughout the bible, obedient people are described as being those who feared God and tried to do what is right.

What does it mean to fear God?

Fearing God means that we don’t want to be cross with Him about anything.

Fearing God means that we start to live with the realization that we will stand before Jesus and be judged for everything we say or do. If we have placed our faith in Jesus’ work on the cross to justify us before God, then our sins will not condemn us because Jesus paid our fine for breaking God’s moral law. This is the free gift God gives us, that we can be in right-standing with God by placing our faith in Jesus. But there are two parts to the Christian life; being justified by faith so we can go to heaven and also being sanctified or “transformed” by the Holy Spirit into a person more like Jesus.

Many of us Christians fear God enough to place our trust in Him for salvation, but we don’t fear being judged according to how we steward all that He gives us.

Many of us Christians fear God enough to place our trust in Him for salvation, but we don’t fear being judged according to how we steward all that He gives us. There are rewards available to us in Heaven, some sort of heavenly and eternal set of “crowns”, or prestige, which God will give to people for obedience on earth. The bible clearly teaches us that even Christians will give an account for their lives, even though their penalty is paid by Jesus. This account isn’t for salvation, it’s to see if you’ve earned His eternal rewards.

The fear of the Lord causes us to seek reconciliation to God, and it also causes us to honor God with everything so that He will be pleased with our work.

The Fear of the Lord Gives us Child-like Faith:

My now 4.5 year old daughter Natalie loves to be by my side. Her favorite thing in the whole wide world is for me to lay down with Her at night, to talk to Her late into the evening, tell Her stories, laugh with Her, be silly with Her, and just spend time with Her. When she was little, she was never very far from either Myself or My Dad, who has lovingly taken the name “Bumpa”.

Every Sunday, my parents drive their Ford Expedition to pick up my brother, and My family of 4, and then we go to Church together. After Church, we enjoy lunch at my parents house.

When Natalie was just 1 1/2 years old, we were out on my Dad’s porch grilling some food and Natalie kept reaching up towards the super-hot grill, risking being burnt. For the last couple weeks we had warned Her to be careful around the grill by telling her that if she touched it, it would hurt Her; but She just didn’t get it.

It wasn’t two minutes after we got done with a little lesson about burning Herself that she reached up with one finger, and touched the hottest part of the Grill. She wailed, screamed, and cried, and we snuggled Her close as we applied cold water, ice, and salve.

Ever since that day, Natalie responds very clearly to “watch out, this can burn you,” she understands the consequence of touching the heat and wants nothing to do with being burned.  Natalie is not terrified of hot things, because we showed Her the way of living amidst such potential danger.  Natalie trusts us more because the consequence affirmed our truth, and our loving, graceful, response showed that we’re looking out for her best interests.

The truth is that the hot grill, when touched, will burn horribly.  The way a father disciplines, warns, and teaches His child to avoid fire is the equivalent to instruction.  The way a father firmly, yet gracefully responds to His daughters’ disobedience shows that He can be trusted and that He is a good father.

This is like the fear of the Lord – but God is showing us not only how to avoid the damage sin will do to our lives, but also He is showing us how to be reconciled to Him so that we can go to heaven.  He says “don’t mess with sin, it hurts your life”, and He says “you need to trust in my Son in order to receive the free gift of eternal life”.

We errantly think all fear is bad

Some of the apathy that us Christians are riddled with, stems with our inability to separate the “fear of the Lord” from the command to “fear not”. We errantly think all fear is bad.

In fact, a couple of weeks ago a Christ following friend of mine, who tends to be more “liberal” leaning in their social media posts, posted an article entitled “9 Sins Christians are OKAY with”.

http://www.faithit.com/9-sins-the-church-is-okay-with/

The article was extremely insightful, and biblically based in many ways. Here’s their list of 9 acceptable sins:

– Fear
– Apathy
– Gluttony
– Worry
– Flattery
– Comfort
– Consumerism
– Patriotism
– Lying

But something caught my eye in the articles’ analysis of Fear, which is incredibly important to note. Here is His analysis of the fear portion:

1.) FEAR

The phrases “do not fear” and “do not be afraid” appear 365 times in the Bible. Ironic? I think not. And here’s what I think the church misses about fear. Let me pose this as a question. What is the opposite of fear? Courage? Bravery? William Wallace?

Wrong. Wrong. And right, but you’re ruining my point.

The opposite of fear is…LOVE. Add to this the reality that God is love. So, according to the Transitive property of mathematics, the opposite of fear is…God.

If you’re a child of God, the one sin that shouldn’t plague you is…fear.

Yet, Christians are the most fearful people on earth. Even our salvation is rooted in fear. Does it bother anyone that the primary method of bringing people to Jesus has been to scare them away from hell?

That’s fear language, the antithesis of God. Look at what John says.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18

The church is scared to make decisions out of fear. Christians are hesitant to step into dangerous situations out of fear. The catalyst for our obedience is fear. Where’s the love?

Several weeks ago, I decided to remove the words “fear, scared, and terrified” from my vocabulary. Maybe you should do the same. It could change how you see the world. And God.

Now I agree that Christians should not be fearful!  The power of God has atoned for our penalty of death and the spirit of the living God lives inside all those who believe. When we believed, “God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power, and love, and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:17).  We should not fear anything except God!

I would also agree that there are many ways in which “fear mongering” people away from Hell seems counter productive, and I think that the Church needs to prove they are God’s disciples through their love (john 13:34-35).
I also agree that the overwhelming call for Christians is to exude love.

While the author wrote that fear is a sin and should be removed from our speech and evangelism, He never nuanced his statements to include the full doctrine concerning fear; we should fear nothing but God.

We should fear nothing but God; and the fear of the Lord is the foundation of all knowledge.

I think the reason why this article bugged me was because I’ve noticed a growing divisiveness within well-meaning, biblically literate Christians and churches, when it comes to the overarching approach to reach people. To sum it up, one side argues that only fear of judgement in light of God’s law can lead to repentance while the other side believes that Jesus reached people through love and hope rather than fear. I’ll unbox this deeper in a different post, but notice how this article neglected to affirm the importance of fearing God’s judgement?

in particular, my ears perked up and my discernment gift was triggered when He said:

“Yet, Christians are the most fearful people on earth. Even our salvation is rooted in fear. Does it bother anyone that the primary method of bringing people to Jesus has been to scare them away from hell?”

Immediately I knew that this statement was half-cooked and perhaps the writer just missed a couple of very important concepts from God’s word, because Paul instructed us to “workout our own salvation with fear and trembling” and God clearly tells us throughout His word that “the fear of the Lord is the foundation of all knowledge”.

So this article bugged me, because when He said we should “eradicate fear” because God constantly tells His people to “fear not”, the author would have been more complete by adding on the statement “Our faith is made complete when we fear nothing but God”. He also should have taken one brief paragraph, and another post to unbox how critical the fear of the Lord is in maturing our faith, or adding that the Holy Spirit legitimately uses the fear of the Lord to call sinners to repentance.

In fact, the author is missing the most critical message in the gospel because He simply says that “the opposite of fear is love” and then references John by quoting “perfect love casts out all fear” and that “there is no fear in love”. While He is completely accurate in referencing God’s teaching that fear is a sin, Christians need to be reminded and encouraged that they need to work consistently at developing both their fear of God and their intimacy with God as their heavenly father.  This means we cultivate a deeper appreciation for both God’s truth and grace.

“Christians need to be reminded and encouraged that they need to work consistently at developing both their fear of God, and their intimacy with God as their heavenly father.”

Here is my main beef with HIs article:

If we are not fearful of being sent to Hell, what else would motivate us to seek reconciliation and right-standing with God? NOTHING.

If we don’t think we need saving, why would we reach out to a savior?

Only the fear of the Lord causes us to hold tightly to our need to have a right standing before God.

There is no fear in perfect love, because we no longer have the penalty for our sin which was death (Romans 6:23). After being justified through faith in Christ, We can now boldly approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16). In other words, God’s love for us is perfect, and that is what casts out fear. We should be fearless because God atoned for our penalty for Sin, and His Holy Spirit lives inside us.  Ought not all people be full of fear before this atonement happens?

Fear is only a sin when we’re fearing things other than God, after we’ve been justified through faith.

Satan has done a fine job of drowning out people’s conscience and their ability to fear God.

God tells us to fear nothing except for Him.

Another thing that seemed off was that this authoer dislikes fear being a catalyst for reaching people for Christ. The author should know that Jesus uses both GRACE and TRUTH to draw people to Him. Gods’ truth causes us to fear Him while His grace is the unmerited favor He extends to us.  Just like with my daughter and the hot grill; the truth is that we ought to fear being burned but God’s response to us is unmerited favor and forgiveness WHEN WE SEEK IT.

Jesus was the full embodiment of Grace and Truth

John, the closest person to Jesus, wrote that When the word was made flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus, He was full of “Grace and Truth.” This means that Jesus fully embodied both Grace (unmerited favor), as well as truth. The truth is that we are born guilty of breaking God’s law, and the wages of this sin is death. Truth is also all about showing us how sinful we are and how Holy God really is.

All of us that want to follow Jesus need to work at becoming full of both Grace and Truth.

Let me make this clear, salvation comes from our ever loving father in Heaven, in the form of a freely accessible gift, obtainable by anyone, by placing faith and trust in Jesus for our only means of salvation. But without a healthy fear of being separated from God because of the penalty of Sin, a person has no problem which needs remedy.

This means that the most core part of the gospel is fearing God.

This is highly important to understand for followers of Christ because I think that the Holy Spirit will reach people both by truth and by grace.  I think that God’s word can convict people of their guilt, just as much as God’s love can simply attract them; both into a relationship with this heavenly father.

Using my analogy of my daughter, the hot grill, and my response:

Both the truth about the grill’s heat,  and the Grace-filled response of the father can be primary attractants for people to enter into a relationship with the Father. 

The key is that we need to mature in our faith and understanding of God’s ways which would include a “fully orbed” understanding of the gospel. Being full-orbed means we seek to fill any deficient understanding of either God’s truth or God’s grace. In other words, if we accepted the message because of God’s winsome hope, then we should deepen our understanding of His truth. Conversely, if we accepted God’s message primarily because of an intellectual pursuit, logical conclusion, conscientious guilt, or any “truth” laden gateway, then we should more fully develop our understanding of Grace, mercy, and the extent of our unmerited favor. Try to develop, understand, and seek to appreciate the more lacking between either grace or truth.

What is the Gospel? Here it is:

  • God made everything, and we are accountable to Him – acknowledging this is called “the fear of the Lord.”
  • We are born sinful, under the curse of Adam, And the penalty for sin is death, which means we need to have a right-standing before God by having our penalty paid.
  • God loves us, so He sent His son to live a sinless life, which could then be sacrificed in atonement to pay the penalty for the sins of us all. This was done by Jesus, being the predicted and promised Messiah, who was crucified on the cross as as sacrifice for our sins.
  • If we acknowledge that we are sinners, and place our faith and trust in Jesus and His work to atone us through the cross, He freely gives us a right-standing before God because He pays our penalty.
  • In response to our faith, our obedience to His commands are required. We grow in obedience, which is called “sanctification”, where we wage war against our sinful nature through a pursuit of Holiness.
  • We are to do good works, and help spread the kingdom of heaven.
  • We are instructed to prioritize our lives like this: “Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and His righteousness” and “everything else will fall in line” (summarized).
  • The number one command is to Love the Lord with all our hearts, soul, strength, and mind and to Love our neighbor as ourselves. This law summarizes everything God wants us to do.

Fear is an important ingredient in the kingdom of heaven, but only in respect to fearing God. The dilemma we all face is that we hold the penalty of our sins, which is eternal spiritual and physical death. Unless we fear this dilemma, we will not seek the remedy. We won’t seek a savior, if we don’t think we have anything to be saved from. God is going to judge every person, and if we don’t place our trust in Jesus, we will be thrown into Hell because our sin carried with it such a penalty.

Bible Verses about the Fear of the Lord:

God used many people to write down His message to us, here are some of God’s words to us concerning the Fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 9:10 – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy one is insight”.

Proverbs 1:7 “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, fools despise wisdom and instruction”.

Proverbs 8:13 – “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”

Matthew 10:28 “And do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather, fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

Psalm 33:8 “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.”

Luke 1:50 “and His mercy is for those who fear Him from generation to generation”

Philippians 2:12-13 “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure”.

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”.

Acts 10:35 “But in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him.”.

Proverbs 16:6 “By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for; and but the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.”

Proverbs 9:10 “The reward for humility, and fear of the Lord, is riches and honor and life”.

1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love”

Faith is Simple: Follow, Believe, then Obey:

This all sounds WAY TOO COMPLICATED!!! THat’s because I’m writing this to address some deeper issues I had with an article.  Faith can be very very simple! Just start out by acknowledging there might be a God, then get to know Jesus by reading about Him, being around His disciples, eventually try talking to Him, and eventually you’ll actually believe it.

 

Confessions of a facebook political & religion poster & 11 steps to be winsome

0

I have a confession to make, I”m a Facebook sharer about politics & religion…..

I know what your thinking, this is the type of stuff that only turns people off, makes them mad, causes division, and is certainly ineffective in any type of Christian witness. While in the past I’ve been a badgering, flippant, crass Facebook debater – I’ve felt my heart change over the last couple of years.

First off,  I’m a principled person, and my ideology concerning anything is driven from factual, rigorously scrutinized, principles and frameworks.

I think that politics are important, but not the core thing of life. I think much differently about politics and governing strategy than I do about the principles of my life and my faith.  While my faith in Jesus and my discipleship of Him impacts my entire life, I’m not an advocate for a theocracy, eliminating the separation of Church and State, or trying to force people to be Christians through any government tinkering.  I DO, however, think that capitalism, free markets, and a constitutional approach to government with a focus on liberty, is the noblest and most virtuous governance out there.

The facts are this: progressivism, socialism, communism, atheism, elitism, bureaucracy, and the desire for power are at odds with liberty.  Leftist policies sound good at first, till you judge them for their results which are death, decay, loss, and an overall languishing of a country and the destruction of liberty.

Therefore, I am usually trying to make a case to people that they should dismantle the progressive, leftist mindset and pursue liberty.  I also present ideas that support Christianity, but they are separate.

I present ideas and arguments for liberty & Christianity, but they are separate.

My beliefs are placed soundly in Jesus, and the testimony about God in the Bible, but my approach has become more nuanced and matured. While my biblical beliefs have not changed at all, my political beliefs have evolved from a war-hawk Bush-pushing republican, to a conservative Christian Libertarian (I know, they appear to contradict themselves).

my political beliefs have evolved from a war-hawk Bush-pushing republican, to a conservative Christian Libertarian

I’ve always been a person who wanted to nudge people closer to a relationship with God, and how operational wisdom and excellence is rooted in the principles of the bible and liberty. Because of that, I tend share things on Facebook both to stimulate thought and to serve up ideas in the form of advertising for the principles of liberty.

I’ve posted two things recently on Facebook that got a tremendous reaction from some of my friends more resistant to what they probably associate as “evangelical dogma”. The articles included principles such as “The man is the master of His home” and “the optimal environment for a child is a christ-centered, traditional family. I’ve posted more nuanced versions of these statements to Facebook over the last couple of years and have experienced what I’ve termed “due process” in my conversations: I post something filled with biblical or principled truth, liberals and atheists respond with challenge, scorn, and belittlement, we converse until there is a common ground, we amicably agree to disagree.

The due process of my facebook engagements:

I post something filled with biblical or principled truth, liberals and atheists respond with challenge, scorn, and belittlement, we converse until there is a common ground, we amicably agree to disagree.

As I type this, my first response was to conclude the “due process” with “nobody changes their mind”, and yet that’s not a statement that accurately describes my outcomes. The outcomes seem to be a mutual respect from almost all players (of course except for the most flippant, abusive, and careless ones). It’s come to pass that the majority of those that engage with me have actually become my friends in an odd way, so much so that their profiles are more prominent in my Facebook feed than others.

What’s interesting about this is that I now have an opportunity to peer even deeper into their lives and can seize the opportunity to exercise what Peter called “brotherly affection” to them. Because their posts are prominent in my feed, it’s much easier to actually take an interest in their life, to authentically encourage them, “like” the pictures of their kids, and give them kudos when applicable. What’s ironic is that our deep, penetrating conversations from quite polarized positions, are able to cultivate a very mutual respect. Why is this happening to me rather than the typical response of polarization and eye-rolling?

Well first off, I’d like to acknowledge that I’m absolutely positive that my posts have been shut off, un-subscribed to, ignored to the point of oblivion, and have induced many eye-rolls from many of my 1700 Facebook “friends”; an argument might be made that I’ve done more harm than good. Yet, I had some of the coolest responses lately from people that stereotypically feel badgered, polarized, and offended when “confronted with” a worldview like mine.

The way I’ve engaged some of my former friends, classmates, and acquaintances has lead them to make statements like “where was this Robby back in 2002” “We’ve all noticed a great change in you Rob, and I thank your Jesus for that”, “I want you to know that while I disagree with nearly everything you say, I like engaging with you because it’s always respectful”.

11 Steps for winsome social media debate:

1. Start with the goal of thoughtful engagement and mutual respect.

We all know that adults don’t really change their world-view easily or often, usually because they’re not on a hot pursuit to acquire new operating models for their lives.

That point requires a whole other post, but we must realize that true life-change or adaptation of new beliefs, usually happen within the context of relationship and through self-discovery. We also know that Facebook “debates” seldom do anything but stir the pot and upset people, particularly tenderhearted people ( which we all should become). Therefore, our first goal is simply to have civil, yet rigorous discussion and an exchange our “why” around an issue.

What good is the free market enterprises of liberty if our only attempts to bolster their virtues is through discussion rather than proper stewardship of what we’re blessed with?

The second goal ought to be to earn respect through civility because when you meet this person in Target someday, it’s pretty cool to add integrity, character, wisdom, care, joy, love, and friendliness atop your case. Nothing speaks more for your case than unmatched understanding of the subject AND the personal character that proves your point is beneficial. Principles and thoughts that are both helpful and true, gain a following no matter what, which is why Jesus’ Way of life not only gives us eternal life, but abundant life now. What good are free market enterprises if our only attempt to bolster it’s virtue is through online discussion and not proper stewardship of what we’re blessed with? What good is the second amendment if we aren’t the type of people who show love, respect, and care for those we claim we’d defend with our H&K VP9 or our AR-15? What good is it to espouse the benefits of a biblically functioning family and community if the aroma of our own lives is not sweet and attractive?

Nothing speaks more for your case than unmatched understanding of the subject AND the personal character that proves your point is beneficial.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t stand on truth and clearly condemn wicked or even foolish behavior; I’m saying that we ought to embrace the verse that says “and this is the will of God, that by doing good we should put to silence the ignorance of fools” because we make the greatest impact on people’s lives within the context of relationship, respect, and modeling.

2. Separate the person from the topic

When you’re debating, usually  you’re both entrenched in living a life committed to the topic or the principles at hand which means that things have the opportunity to become very personal.  If you’re a Christian, Jesus told us that we must prove our election through our love for one another, and John wrote letters telling us that if we do not abide in, extend, and abound with love, we are simply useless.

as Christians, if we do not abide in, extend, and abound with love, we are simply useless.

The foundation of this point is Christ’s call to love, but there are two more important examples that have lead me to engage winsomely; scripture compels us and the American way does as well.
I could dive really deep into the words of Jesus’ disciples and Church planters that tell us to “walk in wisdom towards outsiders, let our speech always be gracious”, and how to despise sin yet love people; lets do that in another article though.

Hate sin, love the sinner, and “walk in wisdom” to those outside the faith.

Enabling life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is ultimately about valuing people who are “embeud by their creator certain inalienable rights”. This means that despite our pluralistic society, atheistic undertones, and separation of Church and state, we are called to value people. I think that our American way is noble, and valuing human life is at it’s core. In other writing I would argue that this is a uniquely Christian perspective when rendered down to it’s foundations, and I’d add that the two most destructive forces opposed to our value of people is abortion and the worship of the planet.

To conclude, we need to separate the person from the topic.

3 – Facts are squishy for all sides of a debate.

One of the things that you will realize when you embark on the journey to find solid references and sources for information, is that everyone has a narrative they want to advance. In academia, we are told that you should examine the data first in order to develop a hypothesis which can then be tested, repeated, and continuously honed. But what I’ve found is that hypothesis are created first according to narrative and dogma, then the data is crammed into the mold to support the narrative.

In academia, you ought to cite and reference material which has been published in a journal, or is peer reviewed, credentialed, and written by someone deemed competent. The problem is that even these types sources are tremendously biased with narrative and are intellectually dishonest about the tensions at play. Not only is finding un-biased, credible academic sources difficult, but journalism is quite worse.

Most of the “journalism” you’ll read out there is absolute trash. I love what Joe Soucherey emphasizes on His radio show, “what passes for journalism these days is not good”. If you pay attention to the citations and reference material, you’ll find that 90% of everything produced by journalism is just glorified “click-bait”, types stories meant to sensationalize and make your look at the screen, share the article, or in Fred Flinstone’s case – buy the newspaper.

4 – Seek to understand why someone holds a view.

Most people would argue that they’ve been intellectually honest, or at least compassionate when they’ve developed their position or belief. When you ask people to help you understand, you’ll actually be equipped with a greater knowledge of people, and you’ll be more experienced in your influence.

One great thing to do is to embark on the journey to understand how people developed their own theory, and to understand why it was “sticky” enough for them to keep it. You may confirm your suspicions of cynicism, or you might find out that there is a truly advanced, developed, and educated process behind the position.

There is nothing more disarming than when you invite someone to communicate what they think, why they think it, and more so HOW they came to their conclusion.

5 – propose ideas rather than spew ideology

There is an elegant art that I’m trying to learn which helps pull people along rather push an idea on them. It helps your reader go along your own journey when reading, but requires a sophistication in order to do well.

Here is a long – and purposeful example:

“Taking God out of America has plunged us into darkness”

VS.

“Looking at the trends since the mid 60’s around divorce, mental health, government spending, crime, and other societal problems, there seems to be a problem. I find it interesting that many of our up-ticks in these problems took on a hockey-stick growth curve right around the period when prayer and the bible were finally taken out of schools, the war on poverty and drugs started, the hippie revolution started with their free sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, and when the new age moment raised itself to prominent display. Could it be that we’ve lost something by denying the eternal truths of the Bible and replacing them with shaky principles?

Doesn’t a society flourish when it fully embraces rules like: “thou shalt not covet, murder, lie, steal, blaspheme, or commit adultery. Thou shalt Love God with all your heart and Love your neighbor as yourself. Thou shalt seek humility, forgive each other, uplift each other in word and spirit, be a good parents and spouses”?

I’m not very sophisticated, and my English is quite rudimentary; but I’ve noticed that when I propose something in a manner that appeals to the common ground in our Human psyche, I’m able to get heads nodding together on part of it and then my proposal is much more effective.

Proposing a hypothesis is much more effective than making blanket statements and it helps your debate be much more winsome.

6 – Never call names or slander someone.

Calling names is useless in your argument on the level of integrity, even though it’s the primary tool of demagogues worldwide. Donald Trump is always attackign people and calling names, the media on television and in the liberal “journalist” world, consistently apply labels to people which is the equivalent of name calling somethings. Remember that the goals are two fold, some-sort of mutual respect and engagement.

7 – Acknowledge & remember that most people hold their positions because they think it’s the best way to help people.

Liberals are liberal OFTEN because they want to help people. Republicans are republicans because they think they know best how to help people.

8 – Identify the tactics of chastisement & never engage with it.

Remember that there are entire groups of people out there who’s sport is to rile people up and be official “internet trolls” – particularly certain internet communities “who must not be named” :). They are usually easy to spot, but not always; keep your wits about you for people who seem to purposefully push your buttons.

Remember that the Saul Alinsky folks and revolutionaries use the tactics of beratement, chastisement, lies, and propaganda extremely well. Some of the most cunning political movements are done by “tar and feathering” people through underhanded tactics. While the case could be made that these tactics are the only way to win, I’m compelled to simply identify the tactics and remove them from my repitoire.

9 Recap with “that’s fair, good discussion!”

This is not a flippant dismissal of any opposition, it’s simply a way to come back after rigorous debate with respect. In fact, I think that the better debater, teacher, or leader a person is, their rhetoric alone will raise the quality of the discussion around them. These statements ought not to be a flippant verbatim tool, but also an attitude that you embed into your heart.

Remember that the goal is mutual respect, and engagement. The Bible says that “faith comes from hearing, that is hearing the word of God” and that we are “transformed by the renewing of our mind”; this seems to indicate that engaging with content by either hearing or reading is helpful for a cause. True opposition comes in the form of censorship, demagoguery, chastisement, teasing, and a commitment to never actually engage about the issues. For example, if the media is giving air time to a subject or narrative that they typically deplore or oppose, that’s only because it’s risen to such prominence that they feel they can make money through talking about it and they feel the need to try and spin it. When you truly oppose something, you nuke it with belittlement, labeling it as fringe lunacy, and NEVER engage on their territory or answer ANY of the questions they might propose. Therefore, engagement and mutual respect should be your goals when conducting discussion on the internet.

10 Use your words to lift up, not tear down.

I believe in people’s ability to pick themselves up by their bootstraps, make wise choices, and flourish through wisdom. I also saw on 9/12/01, a resolve among our nation that was uniquely American. I think one of the key things that Christians and Liberty minded folks ought to do is authentically build up the virtues of people’s potential goodness.

That’s not to say that I believe in some mambie-pambie unicorn land where reality is totally distorted. I know that there are absolutely vile political systems that need to be fought against, I know that babies are being killed, I know that corporations are benefiting from cronyism, and I know there is good and evil. But I believe that Christians and Liberty loving folks need to SPEAK LIFE into the world!

It sounds super corny, but we owe it to our causes to use the majority of our words to build up the virtues within each other and within our society.

11 Do some rigorous homework & identify the tensions at play.

Here is the final and most important way to debate winsomely. I wish that everyone would quite filling their time with entertainment and frivolity and pursue engagement, knowledge, wisdom, goodness, and peace. We are a nation of people who too easily accept the status quo, because we are becoming a people who are frivolous and uninterested in wisdom and knowledge.

We don’t read books, we don’t look at data, we don’t try to solve problems, and we’ve quit doing it amidst an era where we can easily obtain such a lifestyle through technology.

My most basic encouragement to be a winsome debater is to READ and do RESEARCH around subjects you are interested in. If it’s family, then study sociology, psychology, parenting, and teaching. If it’s politics, economics, marketing, WHATEVER! Just engage in the subject.

Here is the key, identify the tensions at play. When you start to form an idea, position, approach, or opinion, play a little game where you say “what would the biggest, most accurate critic say about this, even if I don’t think it’s true”. The idea is to find out the most legitimate criticism or opposition to your newfound enlightenment.

It’s glorious to dive deep into understanding the different positions available for subject matter. The more you care about it, the deeper you ought to pursue the driving factors behind it’s most accurate and effective critic. There is nothing dumber than simply sitting in an echo-chamber and never engaging with other ideas.

All that to say, it’s also perfectly acceptable in my book, to be vigorously biased against what you deem to be lifeless, immoral, and ill-premised ideas. For example, I study what the biggest and most profound atheists are saying, and what’s informing their decision making.

The idea is to ask “how do we know that’s true?” “How did we get that data?” “Who went and got that data?” “who paid for the data?”

To conclude,

I’m sure I’ve done nothing but make some good points to myself here, but I really hope that other Christians, and conservative-Christian-libertarians will embark on a journey to engage the world around us to help move society towards a growing relationship with Christ and a country where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is preserved.

My Real Life Story: The Secret about being a bully

0

Ask yourself these questions and see if this article is for you:

  • When you’re honest with yourself, would you say you long for the approval of others?
  • Do you find yourself deciding where you sit in terms of social standing when you’re in groups or meet others?
  • Would you admit that you keep a hierarchy of looks, coolness, intelligence, abilities, wealth, or athletic abilities?
  • Is there something in you that really longs for admiration on social media when you post a picture, meaning you post more than one selfie a month?
  • Do you like it when you get the credit for something, and you kind of keep a tally about it at work?

If you recognized a little bit of yourself in those scenarios, then maybe my true-life story will be a value to you.

Rob’s Story about Transforming into a Bully:

My ninth grade acne was just barely under control, and my polo-shirt & jean outfit was stiff from never being worn. This first day of school was quite a bit scarier than the other days, because it had been six long years since I attended a public school.

In fourth grade, our entire school at Living Word Academy, was made up of about 30 kids total, 10 of which were in a class with me. After that, Christian Life School in Farmington boasted double the number of students, but it’s main goal seemed to try and keep us purified through behavior modification & evangelicalism.

I’d been lifting weights in the public high school weight room for almost a year and football practice started a month before, but as I stood in the Kenwood Trail Junior High lunch room, my single focus was to find someone that I could sit with to eat lunch.

My stomach churned with the hope that I might find acceptance in the form of a lunch-room table.

The lunch line was already 20 people deep, and I’d been standing in line for about a minute when I looked up to see three of the most beautiful girls I’d ever seen (up to that point).

Since there’s a chance they would read this, I won’t use their names, but I’d never seen such physically alluring girls wearing clothes that were quite so fitted. Even the cheerleaders in my Christian school were required to wear full-length dresses that came down to their ankles, but these girls were wearing shorts that allowed their legs to hypnotically glow in complete splendor from their summer tan. I, along with every other teenage boy in that school, were spell-bound by the girl’s which had recently experienced the hormonal surge of maturity out of girl-hood.

Right behind these girls was a group of guys that confidently cut to the front of the lunch line without any regard for those of us who’d been waiting quietly. I was in awe, because these girls and guys simply ignored the time-honored tradition of waiting in line, and all of us seemed to accept their status as “too good to wait”. I later learned that all ninth graders would budge in front of under classmen, but this group cut right in front of many kids their own age. They obviously were in a status above us.

That group took their seats amongst another group of equally beautiful and confident girls and guys.

I finally got my lunch and exited the serving area, finding myself staring at a sea of tables filled with people I really didn’t know. I started to walk around slowly, fishing for some sort of eye contact. I knew there was a little bit of hope because luckily, I was part of the football team that had been practicing for the last month or so.

The table of pretty girls and confident guys didn’t even raise their eyes when I walked by them, and just when I thought that I’d have to sit friendless and alone, a voice spoke up “Satrom, you can sit here man”.

I turned around and saw a fellow football player that I didn’t completely recognize, “Satrom right? yeah you can sit here, I’m Josh Storm remember?” I sat down in relief.

Josh had carved out His own little niche of confidence amongst the swirling uneasiness of Junior High School. He was sitting alone, but His face was confident, stern, and tough. We talked about sports, the lunch room, gawked at what we thought were the most stunningly beautiful girls, and then was off to class.

To this day, I think that Josh’s seemingly small action of speaking out to me, was a display of the tremendous inner character that I believe Him to possess even today. Josh was a hero to me in that moment, and He selflessly acted as a friend to me in a really huge way.

Just a couple of days later, Josh and I saw another new person wandering around the lunch room aimlessly. We invited Him to sit down, and got to know Brian a little bit. Brian was a little more “tough” than the other kids, He seemed to walk around with a little bit of a chip on His shoulder, and He wore baggy “gangsta” clothes. Even though we were dressed completely different, Brian was eager to have a safe place amongst the lunch tables.

The fall pressed on, and I was starting to be noted as one of the new standout football players and was even asked to come visit the high school games a couple of times by the varsity coaches. I was definitely known as the big guy who was good at sports.

That fall, every day at the lunch room was filled with the same thing. Brian, Josh, and I would sit at the lunch table, and fall completely in love with the girls in school who we thought were the most beautiful things on the planet. I’m pretty sure every Junior High boy is so chock-full-o-hormones that they think about girls all day long. I remember how badly every guy wanted to be “liked” by one of the girls or to “go out” with one of them, which meant that so many of the “most” physically attractive girls sitting at one table, obviously raised the status of anyone else sitting with them.

so many of the “most” physically attractive girls sitting at one table, obviously raised the status of anyone else sitting with them.

As described in a previous post, even at this time, I was riddled with a very destructive mindset that was sinful and hurt my relationships. I had a mindset that desired notoriety, honor, and for others to think highly of me. As I was getting noticed on the football field, I wanted to become the most dominating person on the field and be known off the field for being a badass. This caused me to use anger, rage, and self-exultation as I worked hard at developing my athletic and physical prowess.

About half way through that ninth grade year, my arrogant mindset started to impact my personal life as well.

Many of the kids at the popular table, with all the pretty girls, were football players. They had an exclusivity about them which caused others to envy them. This envy and exclusivity was the exact type of thing that, unfortunately, was a driving force and desire deep within my heart. I was starting to get annoyed that I wasn’t sitting at the most elevated table in the room, and I was slowly becoming emboldened enough to do something about it.

The popular kids had an exclusivity about them which caused others to envy them.

I’ll never forget, my self-confidence and ego was starting to swell because I was becoming physically quite dominating. On the football field in particular, I was having quite a bit of success (that’s not to sell any of my teammates short by the way! In particular, Matt Olson was an absolute terror for me on the field that year. He kicked my butt everyday in practice and was critical in my athletic development.)

I was no longer intimidated by anyone, so much so that I had started to use intimidation to my own advantage, flippantly and arrogantly leaning on physicality to set myself above others.

One day as I grabbed my lunch, I made a seemingly small decision which impacted my life in a really big way.

I got my lunch as I always did, but instead of walking over to Brian and Josh’s table, I walked right over to the “popular kids table” and I just invited myself in. I started some conversations with the guys that played football, the girls, and a couple of others. I was trying to make a good impression because I was bound and determined to become an ‘insider” of this seemingly powerful group that lorded exclusivity over the rest of the kids in the school.

Sitting at the table wasn’t such a big deal, but my reaction to their conversation and behavior was.

Many of the people at this table were simply mean to others, and were consistently making fun of people in some pretty flippant ways. Right off the bat, I remember one of them asking about those two “idiots” that I’d been eating lunch with everyday. Brian and Josh had been nothing but amazing friends to Me and I really owed them quite a bit. They were kind, forgiving, and they took effort to build and sustain a relationship with Me during that first semester. But as the kids started ripping on ’em, I gave in and started acting like they were beneath me.

The bottom line was that there was a game called “popularity”, and I was ready to dive in head-first.

This game was all about moving yourself upwards and forwards in notoriety, power, envy, and “prestige”. Looking back at it, it appealed to all the desires of  what the Bible calls “the flesh”, reveling in the admiration of others. We wanted to be the funniest, the coolest, the most athletic, the prettiest, the most desirable, the most enviable, the most popular, and the most successful kids – all at the cost of others.

The game is played at the cost of others and that’s really it’s main function. In this game, it seems that every situation must be taken as an opportunity to exalt yourself above someone else. You even believe the delusion that the put-downs are “endearing” to the people you seem closest to, while it really just chips away and tears them down.

I compromised who I was that day in order to gain notoriety points. I turned my back on people in a way that was cold, mean, and disrespectful. I had used Josh’s friendship as the first rung of my climb up the notoriety ladder, only to totally forget about Him as I took the next step.

Josh, If you ever read this, I’m sorry for what I did. I know that you were steadfast, and we had an amicable relationship throughout high school, but I really enjoyed your friendship and I would have liked to pour into that more than I did. I was a backstabbing, arrogant jerk, and i want you to know that I am truly sorry for that.

I made a small compromise when I was a willing participant in the bullying, demeaning, and “political” behavior of this new group of friends. I quickly became proficient at advancing my own glory, and social status by creating exclusivity amongst ourselves and using cruelty to demean others. The cruelty that we implemented was essentially bullying and I’m quite ashamed of some of the things I said and did.

None of what I did was criminal or caused tremendous physical pain, it’s not like we jumped people and beat them up. But we put labels on people, stereotyped them, issued nick-names, labeled people’s behaviors as “gay, stupid,or weird” and subliminally worked at pushing others down while lifting ourselves up.

Back then, I never would have admitted to all of this, and probably didn’t have the maturity to identify it and recognize it for what it was. In fact, as I’ve said before, these problems existed because while I would call myself a “Christian”, I didn’t know or understand the heart of God and didn’t keep the focus on Loving God & loving other people as myself. I wanted to know more about God, but when I’d try, I was totally lost, particularly because I was reading a hard-to-read version of the Bible. Not only was my inability to have a true devotion hurting my spiritual life, but my “Christian” friends seemed to be missing out on this as well. We we more concerned about friends, girls, and the glory of sports than loving God and loving others as ourselves.

Another weird aspect was that this game only works when people decide to become participants. This is done when you either participate in exalting yourself or pushing others down.

The core of the entire game is desiring the approval of others and When we live for the approval of others, we will die at their rejection.

You can avoid the insidious game altogether by finding value in your identity in Christ.

During High School, my life was engulfed by seeking the approval of others and in the exaltation of myself rather than seeking Christ-like humility.

Shortly after my ninth grade year, my parents moved across the street from one of the most notorious players in this game. My new neighbor would end up being eventually my born-again, totally transformed.  He is my current best friend and business partner, Nick Meester.

Here’s the reason I wanted to write about this, it’s important for young people to realize that there is a game people are playing. It’s amplified in school, but it lives out in your jobs and other places. The game might be called the “popularity game”, it might be the “notoriety game” or the “wealth & success game”.

Regardless of it’s subtleties, the core of this game is about seeking approval from the world.

There is a God, who made each and every person as the pinnacle of His creation, and He loves and cares for you.

He wants you to come to Him like a father, and find your identity as His child through a relationship with Him.

God came down to this earth in the person of Jesus to make us right with Himself because He’s perfect and Holy, and we all come out of the womb as little sinners who break God’s law.

God loves us, wants a relationship with us, and He has a purpose He wants us to fulfill.

You become the SONS and DAUGHTERS of God when He grafts you into His family because of your faith & belief in Jesus. We are God’s children when we believe in, and trust in Jesus. Not only are we made right with God when we believe, but God then sends us His Holy Spirit. The same God that created the universe, and the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, will come and live inside you.

When you place your trust in Jesus as your only means to salvation, God’s spirit comes and lives inside of you, giving you a new peace.

If you don’t have peace, and you find yourself constantly playing a game where you’re trying to lift yourself up, then come to Jesus and find your identity as a child of God because there is fullness of joy when you do it.

You won’t be yearning for the approval of people so badly, because you’ll understand that the creator of the Universe has chosen you, knows you, and wants a relationship with you. Not only that, but you’ll read that He’s promised to reward you in heaven for fulfilling His purpose here on earth.

It sounds cheesy sometimes, but I believe it to my BONES because of the evidence in science and the testimony about Jesus.

If you’re playing the game, I want to warn you to end it now and call out to God for forgiveness.

If your a victim of the game, cry out to Jesus for help and He will start to work in your life.

Here are 16 thoughts I have about my experience of being a bully in the popularity game:

1 – My self-glorifying tendencies were an evil force in my life.
2 – There is a game of popularity and notoriety not only in Junior High, but in the adult world.
3 – The game is all about looking for the approval of others.
4 – the game is also about finding your identity in anything other than Christ.
5 – The game’s currency and tactics for advancement evolve every year, but it’s essentially a desire to lift ourselves above others, and get the approval or envy of other people.
6 – Jesus addressed this specific behavior by saying “Whoever humbles himself will be exalted, and whoever exalts Himself will be humbled”. This means that by playing the game, you’ll probably experience a humbling thing in your life that keeps you down.
7 – Jesus addressed the game again when He taught about serving rather than being served; Jesus was all powerful yet served others rather than being served himself.
8 – Jesus also talked about this when He said that whoever wants to be first, must be the least among you.
9 – Satan and our sinful nature, rope us into this game which causes us to pull other players onto our game-board. The ultimate competition for us is God, which Satan was the first to try and beat when He tried to make himself “like the most high God”
10 – In a way, this pride is the core of all sin and brokenness in this world
11 – Pride is very dangerous when we have any form of power.
12 – using power for our own gain is completely contrary to what Jesus taught, and is squarely at odds with what Jesus said was the Number One Rule of God: To Love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves”.
13 – True love of God and People is defined in the Bible in some interesting ways – both by what it IS and what it IS NOT. I list this at the bottom of this post
14 – Envy, a desire to have what others have or more, is really hard for us to identify in ourselves, and creates a strong pull towards sin.
15 – refusing to play the popularity or notoriety game begins with Humility and Jesus.
16 – God has an entirely different game that He wants to play, one where we seek first God’s way of living.
14 – When we play the popularity / notoriety game, we are acting at odds with God, which will absolutely lead to some sort of destruction in our lives. “For God opposes the proud”.
15 – Jesus taught that we should not “lord ourselves” over other people, which applies to playing the popularity/notoriety game.
16 – Jesus gave us an example during His time on earth, that while He was the most powerful person on the earth, He used it only to bring glory to God the father, through complete obedience to Him.

I’m ashamed of how arrogant, mean, self-centered, and cruel I was to a number of people while I was in High School.

I was dead in my trespasses during this time of my life. God was always in the back of my conscience, inclining me to repent and turn back to HIm.

I always knew I wanted to return to my father in heaven, but I was addicted to the short-term quenching from playing the game.

I was eventually born again, experienced a resetting and re-birth, after I responded to an altar call by Lowell Lundstom at Celebration Church in Lakeville Minnesota on a random Sunday afternoon.

I stood up when the pastor asked “who wanted to repent and turn to Jesus”, and I went in the back for prayer and encouragement.

I didn’t suddenly change, I was deeply rooted in my old ways, but it was that day that I placed my faith in Jesus to save me. It was that day, that I was no longer a slave to the game, and I took my game-chip to God’s board and started playing His game.

My identity is now fully in Christ, my ability to be marked by His love is what my testimony hangs on. The easiest way to see that the game of popularity is evil, is to understand that it is NOT love.

Jesus told us that if we “Love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves”, we’d be pursuing the overarching command of God.

Examine your life by reading God’s truth about Love:

Love is patient
Love is kind.
Love is not jealous.
Love is not boastful.
Love is not proud.
Love is not rude.
Love It does not demand its own way.
Love is not irritable.
Love means you keeps no record of being wronged. Love does not rejoice about injustice
Love rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up,
Love never loses faith,
Love is always hopeful,
True love endures through every circumstance.

Nothing matters in life if it is not marked by Love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 – summarized by Rob.

This might be important, especially if your’e wondering things like:
How do i stop a bully?
How do I fight a bully?
Why do people bully?
How do I become popular?
How do I make girls like me?
How do I make guys like me?
How do I make my boyfriend jealous?
How do I make my girlfriend jealous?
How do I make someone look stupid?
How can I make friends?
How do I survive high school?
How do I survive college?
Why are kids so mean?

Audio Blog Post

0

Mauris consequat velit non sapien laoreet, quis varius nisi dapibus. Aliquam porttitor vestibulum nibh, eget accumsan urna egestas ut. Fusce interdum, erat sit amet tincidunt lobortis, sapien nulla lobortis nunc, sed varius metus sapien quis felis. Cras adipiscing, leo sed ultricies cursus, libero odio euismod nisi, a porttitor erat sapien id enim. Quisque turpis urna, ullamcorper nec nunc vel, auctor imperdiet sapien. Fusce ac malesuada est, a ultrices ipsum. Pellentesque eget lacinia eros, id ultrices lacus. Morbi quis tellus erat. Nunc blandit nunc nec tempor dictum. Vivamus vitae nulla id sem dictum vehicula eu non est. Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Fusce quis neque id magna facilisis mattis vitae eget purus.

Nulla vehicula orci sit amet est ullamcorper, sit amet feugiat purus dignissim. Maecenas at dictum nibh, vitae tristique est. Praesent quis lacus scelerisque, blandit magna ut, scelerisque nulla. Praesent viverra, dui nec pharetra varius, tellus velit scelerisque erat, eleifend rhoncus erat ipsum a enim. Donec vitae arcu ac purus pharetra dignissim. Donec feugiat rutrum blandit. Vivamus consectetur eros eget mi luctus eleifend. Donec adipiscing ullamcorper viverra. Suspendisse vehicula est et massa aliquam, vel egestas quam vehicula. Aliquam ultrices est et nisl volutpat, vitae ornare mi tincidunt. Phasellus sagittis condimentum libero nec pharetra. Pellentesque rhoncus velit et eros accumsan vestibulum. Suspendisse non pulvinar neque. Vivamus tincidunt fringilla ante id accumsan. Mauris varius nisl id imperdiet volutpat. Nullam quis varius dui, vitae sodales nulla.

Nam cursus ultricies mauris ac ultrices. Phasellus mollis adipiscing nisl et cursus. Duis egestas mi sed lorem pulvinar venenatis. Sed a eros sem. In imperdiet nunc ornare ante condimentum consectetur. Nullam id lectus vitae dolor rhoncus dictum eu non tortor. Cras pharetra id velit et vulputate. Etiam ultrices lobortis laoreet. Donec aliquam sem tellus, a tempor dui ornare a. Curabitur mollis lobortis mauris, nec congue nibh dapibus vitae. Nullam rhoncus aliquet condimentum. Mauris posuere sem nec justo euismod, nec commodo purus ultricies. Duis cursus sodales purus non tempor.

Nulla vehicula orci sit amet est ullamcorper, sit amet feugiat purus dignissim. Maecenas at dictum nibh, vitae tristique est. Praesent quis lacus scelerisque, blandit magna ut, scelerisque nulla. Praesent viverra, dui nec pharetra varius, tellus velit scelerisque erat, eleifend rhoncus erat ipsum a enim. Donec vitae arcu ac purus pharetra dignissim. Donec feugiat rutrum blandit. Vivamus consectetur eros eget mi luctus eleifend. Donec adipiscing ullamcorper viverra. Suspendisse vehicula est et massa aliquam, vel egestas quam vehicula. Aliquam ultrices est et nisl volutpat, vitae ornare mi tincidunt. Phasellus sagittis condimentum libero nec pharetra. Pellentesque rhoncus velit et eros accumsan vestibulum. Suspendisse non pulvinar neque. Vivamus tincidunt fringilla ante id accumsan. Mauris varius nisl id imperdiet volutpat. Nullam quis varius dui, vitae sodales nulla.

Nam cursus ultricies mauris ac ultrices. Phasellus mollis adipiscing nisl et cursus. Duis egestas mi sed lorem pulvinar venenatis. Sed a eros sem. In imperdiet nunc ornare ante condimentum consectetur. Nullam id lectus vitae dolor rhoncus dictum eu non tortor. Cras pharetra id velit et vulputate. Etiam ultrices lobortis laoreet. Donec aliquam sem tellus, a tempor dui ornare a. Curabitur mollis lobortis mauris, nec congue nibh dapibus vitae. Nullam rhoncus aliquet condimentum. Mauris posuere sem nec justo euismod, nec commodo purus ultricies. Duis cursus sodales purus non tempor.

When I believed in a Bible I knew nothing about

0

Have you ever been really wrong about something, so much so that you ended up looking like a total idiot?

Big Rob: the “TubCrusher”:

For everyone reading this, I am a very large man. My whole life I’ve been tall and big, but unfortunately I’ve ballooned in weight over the last 3 years. I’m WAY too heavy, and even when I’m in good shape, I’m heavier than your average person. I’m 6’4’’ and a former offensive lineman.

I always joke that I have an intimate relationship with the integrity and make-up of chairs, couches, beds, and other pieces of furniture. Too many times I’ve sat down on a chair, only to have it collapse on me out of nowhere when I lean back in it. It’s something that I find quite funny, and when I break a chair, the tears of laughter running down my wife’s face are PRICELESS.

This past December, we moved from our townhouse in Lakeville, to a house in the Elko/New Market area. I really love the house, but I’m not super wild about the bathrooms, primarily because the showers are small and built for normal sized people. The shower in our old town-home was really big, spacious, and we loved it. We’ve known that the showers are a pain, but we just say “oh well” and have enjoyed our new home greatly.

The other day I was in our upstairs bath, taking a shower. As I was washing and rinsing like baloo the bear from Jungle Book, I stepped toward the back of the bath and kind of leaned all the way onto one foot, and then suddenly, under the crushing weight of my rotund booty, the thin fiberglass of my bathtub cracked.

I looked down, and here was a small little crack that seemed like it might not have even mattered that much, and I wasn’t even sure it had gone all the way through the tub. I was off to work, so I just finished my shower and I left.

I had to tell my wife Heather, but because I was sure it meant replacing that tub insert and some sheetrock work, I was hesitant to just call and tell her because I wanted to wait till she was in a good mood and the timing was right. Well, after we all got back from work, Heather told the kids to go and get ready for a bath……..

I heard the water start and I had a decision to make…. I hadn’t taken the time to prime Heather for this news, and I really had hoped I could do it later somehow…….. As I debated in my mind, I could tell the tub was filling, and for some STUPID REASON, I had VERY little concern that a GIANT TUB OF WATER, on the second floor of my house, had a crack in it…. My ignorance about the crack, and my hesitancy to investigate it differently, meant that I could hold onto the assumption that the crack MIGHT NOT have gone all the way through and that it might not leak water.

I didn’t investigate the crack in my tub thoroughly enough, which lead to ignorance and then not acting in the proper manner.

I finally looked up at Heather and said “Heather, I have something I need to tell you”…. she looked at me with a strange face…..” And I slowly and deliberately said, “Yesterday I was taking a shower, and I kind of stepped in a bad spot or something, and as I stepped toward the back of the tub, I cracked the bottom of the tub…. and I’m not sure with all that water going in to the tub, if it’s a fine or not because i didn’t look at it really hard to see whats up”.

Heather asked “what? Oh my gosh Rob, seriously?” and she laughed Her preciously cute gut laugh…. and we went into the bathroom to check on the girls.

From where we were looking at the tub, it didn’t seem too bad – but when Heather went downstairs, she screamed “ROB, COME HERE NOW!” and we could hear the trickling of water coming down from the tub……. behind the walls of our home….

My ignorance from not investigating the crack thoroughly, caused me to make a fatal flaw and there might be some major consequences.

Because I didn’t investigate, I acted out of ignorance & Ignorance causes us to act in ways that can wreck our life, can’t it?

Here’s another example where ignorance causes pain not only for us, but for the people around us.

Example #2 – Ignorance about Zipper Merging:

How many of you know about the Zipper technique when there’s an approaching single lane shut-down on the freeway?

The problem is that our tendency is to get over into the lane which won’t be shut down, rather than use both lanes for a really long time and then merge right at the end. Studies have shown that if we resist the urge to merge into the open lane early, and instead use both lanes and merge just at the end like a “zipper”, congestion and traffic jams are far less severe.

But the other day, I was approaching a situation where EVERYONE was ignoring the principle of the zipper. None of these people had seen the video that the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation has put on youtube, and the closing lane was totally open for a number of miles before the merge.

So, being the informed and competent driver I am, I started driving down this open lane, which kind of feels like cheating in a way. Suddenly, as I was driving, a guy that was patiently (but ignorantly) waiting, swung His car into my lane to try and stop me, because He thought I was cheating. I had to slam on the breaks and swerve onto the side of the road to get out of the way.

Because of the ignorance of the truth concerning traffic management and the superior results of the zipper technique, this guy nearly caused my to have an accident.

Ignorance causes us to make bad decisions, do stupid things, experience pain, hurt others, and be stuck in life.

My ignorance concerning some of the most fundamental principles in life has caused some pain throughout my life, but back during my high school years, my ignorance about the true nature of God and His ways, caused me to experience gobs of unnecessary pain and agony.

Growing up a Christian, but ignorant about God’s true heart:

I grew up a Christian, and for my entire life i have believed in the God of the Bible, and feared being cross with Him. The denominationalism of my youth was a very truth-filled, and somewhat legalistic Church. I believed the God of the Bible, and I remember picking out my very own Bible at the Northwestern Bookstore in Burnsville. My Dad asked me which version I wanted, and I opted for the King James Bible, because I knew it was the most accurate version which meant it was more truthful than the others.

I brought my Bible to church all the time, and I was super involved in our little congregation. I was kind of a little apologist for God. I believed in Him and trusted Him, but for some reason I never got the overarching themes to understand how a relationship with God worked. I never understood clearly what Jesus’ message was, or anything because while I believed IN THE BIBLE, I was never reading it or being taught how to read it.

This resulted in me having some pretty incomplete beliefs, which caused Me to ignorantly allow certain attitudes and behaviors in my life to grow which caused some pain, loss, and destruction for a period.

I missed some of the main themes from God’s message such as:

  • God wants to have a relationship with Us, and if we call out to Him, He will respond. He asks us to Love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. By Loving God and Loving People, we fulfill all of God’s commands in the entire Bible.
  • I didn’t understand exactly what Jesus’ attitude, philosophy, words, and ministry really were. I didn’t know He did “His thing” for only 3 years, and I had no idea what each book of the Bible actually was. I remember WANTING to understand God’s ways more, only to open the bible with utter confusion about what I was reading.
  • I thought that we were Christians because I asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life, and that I had to try to live a life free from sin. The only problem was, I SINNED ALL THE TIME! I knew I shouldn’t have sex before marriage, support abortion, believe in evolution, and listen to death metal, but I was always riddled with guilt because I continued to fight with my brother, Mom, and I struggled with lust.
  • I missed that Jesus atones us to God, and that He is a good father that we can always return to in repentance.
  • I missed humility, kindness, turning the other cheek, and I was rooted in an idolatry of sports and self-exultation.

I believed the Bible fully, I just never read it or understood it.

My ignorant belief was like Trump/Hillary supporters being tricked to support opponent’s policy:

I have one more story or illustration to show what my ignorance was like. Looking back on it, it was like the man on the street videos where a reporter asks Trump or Hillary supporters if they support their candidates policy, then trick them by getting them to agree with the opponent’s policy. If you watch those videos, it’s exactly what it was like for Me, I claimed to be a Christian but I didn’t really understand God’s heart, truth, attitudes, or story.

My ignorance about what God’s heart was like, and understanding what the pieces of the story were, meant that I ended up in foolishness; and I had all the right things going for Me! I had successful parents that loved God and understood the Bible, I had a great Church, I had friends that were Christians, and I was surrounded by great Christian stuff! There was no reason why I remained in such ignorance.

I had exchanged knowledge about God for a lie. I had built up a set of false beliefs. The God I believed in was essentially not the true God because I had made lots of it up. I believed that the God of the Bible existed, I just didn’t really know Him.

When I would speak about God’s character, it’s kind of like if I were to make some statements about Joe Montana’s character, what He was like as a father, and His attitudes; I’d be completely clueless! Joe Montana was my favorite NFL player growing up, but I didn’t have a relationship with Him at all, so anything I’d say about hIm was second hand or pretty much made up but if I read a testimony about Him from His closest family, friends, confidants, coaches, and students; maybe an authentic understanding would germinate.

I hope that most people don’t struggle with the ignorance about the Heart of God like I did, but watching culture and humanity indicates that most people are probably even MORE ignorant than I’ve been.

Do you think that maybe your suffering from the same ignorance that I was?

If you were to be honest, could you stand up and give a presentation on what the teaching of Jesus is, what the disciples of Jesus taught, and the main themes of the Bible? I sense many people can, and I don’t want to diminish this.

I wanted to write this because I suspect that there are lots of Christians who just haven’t really had the opportunity, mentoring, or teaching that could help them fill in some of the gaps that might exist in their knowledge about God. I’ve watched myself and a couple of my closest friends have our faith and lives blessed in tremendous ways because we pulled up closer God by trying to really understand His story, His ways, and most of all, to understand what His heart is really like.

If you’d like to understand the heart of God more, here’s what helped cure some of my ignorance.

I’m not talking about the minute intricacies of theology, but the heart and meat of the Christian faith.

I was delusional in my past, because although I really didn’t know the truth about God, I was convinced I did…. I want to provide some questions that really helped me asses whether I was acting ignorantly and therefore hypocritically…..

I exposed my ignorance by asking myself questions like these:

  • If I were to audit the last year of my life, how much time did I REALLY spend reading and studying the Bible?
  • If I were to be honest, in comparison to the time I spent on entertainment, sports, tv, etc. How much effort have I put into understanding God, His message, the testimony in the Bible, and the evidence for Him?
  • Do I really know the heart of my Heavenly Father?

If you’re like I was, and you feel unsure about what the Bible actually says, if you can’t really articulate what the main themes are, then you’re in good company! ITS OK I think to be in that situation. But I think you should go an endeavor to discover the true heart, message, and beliefs of our Heavenly Father.

If you’re pretty ignorant about God, the Bible, and all this stuff, but you believe in God, then I’m super encouraged! Jesus taught us that it’s a simple, child-like belief in Him and following Him that leads to salvation; not having complete knowledge.

In the beginning, simple faith is all that’s necessary, but we need to mature over time.

But we’re also taught that we need to mature our faith, to try and supplement our faith with knowledge, to be transformed by the renewal of our minds, and to initiate our transformation into the likeness of Christ through changing the way we think. Jesus said that we’re saved by faith alone, and then He tells us to set out on a life-long journey to more deeply understand God’s heart, His ways, His commands, and His character. Ultimately, this helps us to be better at Loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

I get really encouraged when I meet immature believers like I was, because I know that as they dive into this endeavor, they’re going to experience tremendous blessing; and their relationships, careers, marriages and kids are absolutely, positively, going to benefit.

I’m encouraged when I meet believers who have lots of room to improve, because their entire life has the potential for major blessing as they grow!

If you’re not engaging in the scriptures to love God with all your mind, I think you’re going through life with a tremendous burden and weight-jacket on.

When you engage in deeper intimacy with God through learning and prayer, I KNOW FOR A FACT, that you’re life is going to benefit and you’ll experience more of the good stuff in life.

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Self-Control are all things that our “human desires” might call “silly, wussy, fruity or wimpy”, but in the end; these are what create a good life and sustain a prosperous person or family.

I’m 100% confident that anyone’s life will increase in all these things as they start to conform their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors to comply with the heart of our Heavenly Father.

Knowing the heart of the father comes from learning about Him.

Just like how I could learn about Joe Montana from a “testament” about Him from eyewitnesses and informed testifiers, I can learn about God from the testimony found in the Old and New Testament.

I have three ways to start knowing the heart of God, but I want to remind you that Christianity is all about becoming a disciple of JESUS, which is all about Loving God and Loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Trusting in Jesus & Becoming a Disciple of Him:

When we believe that Jesus was who He claimed to be, we acknowledge that He was the promised messiah that lived, died, and rose again. If you believe that, you’ll trust in Him.

Trusting in Jesus means that we are in a relationship with Him AND that we become His disciple.

Being a disciple of Jesus would be a lot like if we suddenly wanted to become a skilled craftsman in the ancient days.

For example, in Venetian glass makers have been the most skilled, most productive, most profitable glass craftsman since the middle ages. This continues up to this day, because the apprentice/master relationship.

A Master artisan takes people under HIs wing who want to be just like Him, and will say “yes” to everything the Master says. The apprentice will develop throughout a lifetime, the abilities, the thoughts, the acumen, the heart, and the relationships akin to the master. In short, He will be His disciple.

In the same way, following Jesus is all about being His apprentice in the craft of loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus told us that this is our main concern and that His ways are meant to atone us to God the father AND to show us how to love.

Jesus says that He’s going to transform us from ignorant rubes to professionals in His craft. His craft is the loving of God and Loving of others as ourselves.

Everything that is Christianity is rooted in just, true, redeeming love with God and others. But there’s a million life-time’s worth of depth, breadth, and intricacy to it, so that we can never stop learning if we choose to continuously pursue mastery in this craft.

So as we start to apprentice under Jesus, to mature in the craft of Loving God and Loving our neighbor as ourselves, here are the three things that helped me understand the heart of God the most!

Three things that cured Rob’s ignorance concerning God:

1 – Listen to good teaching.

The best way you can start to understand things is to take some time to listen to good, compelling, and biblically focused teaching.

My absolute FAVORITE teaching to listen to is Andy Stanley. He is the son of a successful pastor in Atlanta Georgia, and I believe Him to be one of the best speakers in the entire world. If you think that TED TALKS have some good stuff, this guy blows it out of the water.

His Church is called North Point Community Church in Atlanta Georgia, and He has a couple of different podcasts out there.

My 3 Favorite Christian Teachers

1 – Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley’s Greatest Hits: Your Move Podcast: http://feeds.feedburner.com/npm

North Point Community Church in Georgia’s Podcast http://feeds.feedburner.com/WeeklyPodcastNorthPoint

Andy Stanley’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/yourmovewithandystanley

Here is a link to Andy Stanley’s iTunes App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/christian-part-one-brand-recognition/id211872550?i=1000346402762&mt=2

Specifically, I LOVE these messages:

http://yourmove.is/episode/ep1-brand-recognition/

http://yourmove.is/episode/ep1-jesus-says/

http://yourmove.is/episode/ep1-something-happened/

2 – Eagle Brook Church:

I also love Eagle Brook Church’s messages from Bob Merritt and Jason Strand. This Church is located all along the northern half of the Twin Cities, in Woodbury, Lino Lakes, White Bear Lake, Spring Lake Park, Blaine, and Anoka.

Eagle Brook Church Podcast https://eaglebrookchurch.com/mediafiles/eagle-brook-church-podcast.xml

Here is Eagle Brook’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/eaglebrookchurch/

Here is Eagle Book’s iPhone App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/eagle-brook/id602353806?mt=8

The third resource I really like is John Piper’s Desiring God podcasts and blog. John Piper is a retired pastor that’s made a prodigious impact in the world for Christ. His stuff is accessible to people who aren’t into super complicated stuff, but it’s definitely more COMPLETE than the other two pastors. Andy Stanley and Bob Merritt tend to opt for a very clear, concise, and easy to remember message while John Piper tends to have a more precise, complete, and fully-orbed message. They’re all really helpful, biblical, God honoring speakers that help people live a life obedient to Jesus.

3 – John Piper

Here is Desiring God’s Podcast for your iPhone:https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/john-piper-messages-audio/id196050704?mt=2

Desiring God Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/DesiringGod/

Desiring God iPhone App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sermon-of-the-day-by-john-piper/id1055046727?mt=8

Desiring God website: http://www.desiringgod.org/

2 – Start reading the Bible, particularly one that’s easy for normal people to read.

New Living Translation (NLT) & English Standard Version (ESV)

The Easiest Bible to Read and Understand is the New Living Translation or the “NLT”. It’s the one I like for easy, plain, reading because the vernacular is modern while it captures the key ideas.

This is advice that might cause some people to comment negatively, but my goal is to help people get started in the bible here. There are many different translations of the Bible, which are meant to do different things but convey the same message. Our language is constantly changing, if you don’t believe me, then go read the American Founding documents in their entirely and tell me how this compares to C.S. Lewis, and then to John Maxwell. Our vernacular and phrasing changes tremendously over time, and it actually happens quite quickly. The different versions of the bible are meant to be used in various ways.

I like the NLT for devotions because when there’s words or ideas that can be missed unless deep context is understood, the NLT communicates the idea behind it. It’s the most accessible version of the bible in my opinion, followed by the New International Verison or NIV.

Once you start to engage with the NLT version, it can be useful, but when PRECISION is paramount, it’s good to engage with the English Standard Version or ESV. This version is highly precise, and has the most relevant word choice for the original greek words. The ESV is highly precise, as is the King James Version. What needs to be remembered, is that the New Testament is written in Greek, which uses goofy sentence structures kind of like how Yoda does in Star Wars. It’s also good to note that the old testament was written in Hebrew, and Aramaic after being passed orally for centuries. The jews lost influence over the region, and eventually Greek became the prominent language of the entire middle east. Because of this, the Hebrew holy book of the Old Testament was then translated into Greek by “the seventy”. The seventy, is a group of Hebrew Rabbi’s about 300 years before Christ, who took the old Hebrew books and translated them into Greek so they would be accessible to their culture. That would be like taking latin and turning into english so we can read it. This book is called the “Septuagint” which means the 70, this is the version of the old testament that Jesus and His disciples were quoting most of time in the new testament.

What I want to convey is that you shouldn’t have much concern about the accuracy of the different versions, because the academic source criticism that’s been going on for centuries has proven they are the most relevant and bullet-proof documents of all antiquity. It’s important to know that the different translations are meant for different audiences and eras. Starting out with a New Living Translation is great and if you’d like, you can “graduate” to the ESV.

The bottom line is that reading the Bible is critical in helping understand the heart of God! There’s also some amazing Bible Apps out there, such as Youversion, which are free for android and IOS. Youversion provides every translation of the bible, AS WELL AS recorded readings of the bible, so you can listen to the bible in the car while you drive.

Here is a link to the Amazon search for NLT bibles: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=nlt+bible

The Best Bible iPhone App or Android App:

Youversion:

You can read on a mobile device with this FREE and amazing app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bible/id282935706?mt=8

Here is the Youversion website: https://www.youversion.com/

The Bible Project:

The Bible Project is a really great resource to understand the basics of each book of the Bible. They have taken time to create short, clear, and helpful instructional videos and uploaded them to Youtube.

Looking for an overview of each book of the bible? What are the main ideas in the bible? These will show you.

Summaries of the books of the Bible: https://www.youtube.com/user/jointhebibleproject

Right Now Media, the Netflix for Christian resources: 

This is the netflix of Bible Studies, video series, etc. For those of us that are Eagle Brookers, our Church provides access to this resource (and pretty much anyone could have an account here as it’s open to all)

Go here for a free Rightnow Media Account.
https://eaglebrookchurch.com/rightnowmedia/

Once you have an account, here is their IPhone App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/rightnow-media/id925747028?mt=8

Remember, the Bible is not one book, it’s actually 66 different documents, that have been pulled together in one handy book. The old testament is the the story of God from the nation of Israel or Hebrews, that talk about God from about the beginning until about the year 300bc.

Jesus was born in about the year 3 AD. The New Testament is a collection of a whole bunch of ancient documents that were written by the eye-witnesses of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was born and grew to the age of about 30, and THEN He made Himself known, did all His miracles, and preached His message. Three years later Jesus was crucified on the cross and rose again.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the four “Gospels” or first hand accounts from different perspectives of Jesus’ life.

There was a doctor who documented in a very precise way, named Luke, who wrote the book of Luke and then the Acts of the apostles. ACTS is the story of the beginning of the Church from right after Jesus died.

After Acts, the rest of the New Testament (except Revelation) are letters written by the Apostles and a convert named Paul, to different groups of believers. These are epistles that tell us all about how to live as Christians.

Lastly, the book of Revelation was written by John, one of the closest people ever to Jesus, and He shares the vision God gave Him about when Jesus will return.

So listen to good teaching from someone like Andy Stanley, read a Bible you can understand, and then the final part is to get plugged into a good Bible Believing Church.

3 – Get connected to a Bible Believing Church

These three behaviors helped me a ton, and I started to implement listening to good teaching, reading the bible, and getting involved in my church all at the same time.

A local Church is a congregation of people who are gathering in the name of Jesus to hear the teaching about Jesus, to build friendships and even helpful acquaintances (I don’t think you need to be best friends with all believers, but we’re connected to each other more than we are to those who still belong to the world).

Get plugged into a Church, and make going to Church a NON-NEGOTIABLE!

Never miss church! God will honor it, and you’ll NEVER regret going.

When you’re looking for a church, I think the key is that it’s a place that doesn’t compromise on what the bible teaches.

But taking a high view of scripture doesn’t mean that you are flippantly trying to score religious or political points among believers; a Church should be working hard to MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the lives of the listeners both believing and non.

The key, in my opinion, is that a Church needs to a place that’s helping believers live out what the bible teaches, and also trying to “seek and save the lost”.

Your church should be a place that’s working hard to be a place that you could invite your neighbor to hear a compelling presentation of the Gospel as well as a place where you’re building authentic, biblically functioning, community and relationships.

If the Church is more about tradition than seeking and saving lost people, that usually means that they require un-convinced people to conform to irrelevant approaches rather than adapting approaches to remove barriers for the listener who doesn’t believe.

Approach is different than the message or God’s truth; it’s how you present things. Churches can stay relevant to the people by addressing sin, which is a common thing amongst all people and builds common ground for listeners; believers or not.

Bottom line here, find a Church and get plugged in. The Church should be distinctly positioned to be like Jesus and “seek and save the lost”, which means that they’ll have the humility to tinker with their approach in order that they become an environment you can consistently invite your lost friends and family to.

Churches who aren’t constantly trying to improve in their delivery, approach, and presentation of this most important information are not stewarding their responsibility well. IF they care so much about the message, they will work hard to remove all barriers that get in the way concerning approach SO THAT you feel good about inviting your neighbor.

CONCLUSION

Being ignorant about the things of God caused me to live a lie; claiming I knew the heart of my Heavenly Father when I was actually just making it up.

Reading the Bible, listening to great teaching, and getting plugged into an amazing Church are three ways that helped me start to be transformed into a much better version of myself.

In short, a good church will create a context where people feel comfortable in terms of the environment so that the message is the only thing that confronts them. I’ll write an entire other post about this, but

Help Me! I’m a deliberately sinning believer!

0

Do you keep sinning even though you’re a disciple of Jesus?

Many of us get stuck in a rut of sin, even though we believe that it is wrong. The result is that we are riddled with fear, guilt, shame, and envy – none of which are the “fruit of the spirit”. Our faith in Christ is what saves us, not our behavior; yet Jesus clearly says that we must go and “sin no more” after being justified through faith.

Deliberate sins are grave for believers.

Hebrews 10:26-27:

“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.”

Sin is a big deal, in fact look what John wrote about the importance of ending our sinful ways:

1 John 3:6-10:

“No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

That’s right, we will show that we belong to God by not sinning. This is also tethered to Jesus’ command in John 13:35 which says that our “love for one another will prove we are His disciples”. But notice that the words John uses are “practices” and “keeping on”, which means that this unrighteous living is a deliberate pattern of sin, acting opposite from “the spirit”.

But when we sin, God assures us that we can be made righteous again, look what He says is our “spiritual soap” to cleanse us:

1 John 1:9:

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

That’s right, when we are justified through faith, our conscience is driven by three things: the Holy Spirit which dwells within each believer, God’s word, and other believers. That means that we will be convicted of our sin so we can repent and turn from it. It’s important to know that our salvation is sealed once and for all by placing our faith and trust in Christ, and that sin doesn’t suddenly nullify that. Our sin however, prevents us from being fully indwelled by the Holy Spirit, growing us in wisdom & spiritual fruit.

I’d also like to insert a fact -our evil desires corrupt us and cause us to Sin. God is the one who will give us new desires, which allows us to stop sinning. We must ask for His help, invite Him in to our lives to help, and utilize His tools to conquer. God is the one who will ultimately break the sin – we need his help:

“for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13

So the bottom line is that we need to stop sinning. But what do we do when we seem to have fallen into a rut of sin?

3 Things to embrace to help break the power of Sin on your life:

1 – Wage War against the sin through Prayer.

Prayer moves people from being a bystander and makes them a participant in God’s plans. Notice that Jesus did miracles by praying – requesting in submission to God that something would happen. In fact, Jesus modeled that Prayer should be our absolute core behavior – and pray dirty!

Pray Dirty? I mean that you should be praying all the time, about the stuff that looks dirty, emerassing, crippling and shameful. Jesus showed us that God is a father that we should pour out our hearts to – in fact He asks God the father to allow “the cup of suffering” of HIs coming crucification to pass Him if at all possible – which is kind of a “dirty” prayer because the crucifixion was literally the culmination of prophecy since the beginning of time. Yet, Jesus models this prayer to us in order that it would be accessible to us even today. I think this shows us that God wants us to be in authentic yet “unceasing” prayer with Him

Here are TWO SPECIFIC VERSES TO PRAY to help you stop sinning:

“SEARCH ME, OH GOD AND KNOW ME.
TEST ME, AND KNOW MY ANXIOUS THOUGHTS.
POINT OUT EVERYTHING IN ME THAT OFFENDS YOU,
AND LEAD ME ALONG THE PATH OF EVERLASTING LIFE.”

Psalm 139:23-24

“HOW CAN I KNOW ALL THE SINS LURKING WITHIN MY HEART? 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

Commit these last two verses to memory and utter them to God throughout your day, and You will be acting in the very manner that David did.

2 – Fill your Mind with God’s word – Change the way you think.

Time and time again, us disciples of Jesus end up doing things that we know are sinful; even when we care deeply what God will think of us.  Paul was an early church planter that knew the apostles who lived with Jesus, and Paul showed us how to set ourselves up for success when it comes to transforming our lives.

Romans 12:2

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Our hearts can change when we change the way we think.

This means that we must fill our minds with the truth, rather than allowing ourselves to become callous and therefore given into the ways of our old self.

The way we start to change ourselves is to change our thoughts.

Our thoughts are like RAM on a computer, it is stored to be accessed and used to execute the functions of life. When a program like Photoshop is loaded into the ram of a computer, it is able to then mold and transform pictures and execute on it’s job.

Our Minds are Like the RAM of a Computer – we must load God’s Operating System rather than the sinful nature

We must put God’s truth, commands, promises, and stories into our minds because it’s what will eventually seep into our hearts.  WHatever goes into our minds, and is meditated upon, eventually ends up tainting our hearts.

How to renew your mind:

  • Turn off Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Television and other “zone out” mediums.
  • Turn off stupid radio and television
  • Devote time to read God’s word after asking Him to use It to renew your mind.
  • MEMORIZE key pieces of scripture from your devotion
  • Write down the things God nudges you about and the verses – NOTHING solidifies your thoughts like putting together a Thesis sentence and a written argument, prayer, statement, or thought.
  • Listen to good Christian messages throughout the week such as Andy Stanley
  • Pray out-loud to God often
  • Get time with a Christian friend and talk about where you are finding a gap between God’s operating system and your life.
  • Never miss Church
  • Watch www.SuperBook.tv cartoons, the Bible series, and other biblical stories to have them illustrated in your mind clearly.
  • Be in a small group and meet every week.
  • Meditate on God’s word as much as possible

The bottom line here is that we must take captive our thoughts that come out of our human nature and replace them with preaching from God’s word.

3 – Get Godly friends to hold you accountable & support you

James 5:16 shows us a pattern for small groups:

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

“19My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.”

4 Steps to Biblical Community:

1 – Get in a small group of fellow believers – and don’t neglect meeting together.

2 – Authentically confess your sins to each other.

3 – Pray for each other because it actually works – pray in FULL FAITH and POWER!

4 – Keep meeting together as a group & being about God’s business.

God intends us to be about doing God’s business together, being one unified body made up of many other parts. In fact, there a number of things in the Bible that can only be experienced within the context of biblically functioning community. It could even be said that it’s nearly impossible to serve God fully, or to attain deep levels of sanctification (becoming Holy) without a group of believers to help us out with it.
I’ll end by showing you a list of verses that pertain to how groups of believers can help each other stop sinning – and to support each other.

How Should a Small Group Work?

Ephesians 4:2

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

1 Thess 5:11

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Colossians 3:13

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Galatians 6:2

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

 

Philippians 2:3-5

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. This attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ.”

Romans 15:1-2

“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should help our own neighbor, to build Him up!”

2 Corinthians 1:4

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

“It is obvious what kind of life develops out of living by our sinful flesh: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community.

– The Apostle Paul (Summarize)

Rob’s 5 steps to establish a relationship with God

0

I believe there is a God. Not only do I believe that there is …..“A” ….God, But I’m totally convinced that God is the exact One which is described in the ancient writings of the New Testament which have been studied and scrutinized for over 1900 years.

 

Finding the God of the bible is a weird endeavor – it’s not about facts and figures because it’s actually about having a Relationship with God. Because it’s a person we’re dealing with, that means simply studying it like a scientist, or thinking about it like a philosopher doesn’t get you there.

Hers is a Quick Summary:

First off, becoming a disciple of Jesus is simply about placing our faith and trust in Him as our only means of salvation.  A criminal was executed on the cross next to Jesus, and He simply said “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom”, and that was enough to save Him.  True belief in God, and then placing our faith in Jesus, is all that is needed.

Here is a summary of the process of having a relationship with God.

  1. Acknowledge that God might exist, and maybe ask Him to help you have faith.
  2. Follow Jesus by committing to implementing His way into your life, getting to know Who He is, what His ways are, and what it means to be His disciple (Disciple means that He is your teacher).
  3. Eventually you’ll believe.  Maybe not right away, but as you’re following Jesus, there will be a time when you simply believe that He was who He claimed to be, and you’ll know in your heart it’s real.  Realizing that God came in the flesh, died, and rose again, causes us all to lean in carefully to obey Him.
  4. Realize you’re a sinner, repent, & turn from your sin.  We all need to realize that like every person ever, we’re guilty of breaking God’s law and we need Jesus to pay our penalty for breaking that Law.  If we truly believe Jesus, we will repent of our disobedience and start a journey to live a life that obeys Jesus commands.  Our salvation isn’t dependent on our ability not to sin, it’s dependent on our faith in Jesus because He did the work needed to save us.  But out of our belief in Jesus, we need to turn from our sin and try to live like Jesus did.
  5. Place your faith in Jesus’ work on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.  We had a fine to pay, but He came along and paid it for us!  All we need to do is trust and believe in Him and we receive eternal life!
  6. Receive Eternal Life and the Holy Spirit.  Jesus says that we experience a rebirth, with new desires, new purpose, and a new life.  God says that every believer recieves an “advocate” which is God’s spirit, living inside us.  The Holy Spirit encourages us, convicts us, empowers us, and allows us to be full of God’s goodness.
  7. Obey to become Holy & work at the great commission.  Jesus said to “seek first the kingdom of Heaven, and living righteously, and everything else will be added unto you” Matthew 16:33.  This command means we need to work at sharing the Gospel as well as living at living a Holy life.

HOW TO FIND THE GOD OF THE BIBLE:

1 – Acknowledge and Reach out:

So what do you do to have a relationship with someone? Well first off, acknowledging each other is a pretty Good start.

Acknowledging that there might be a an unseen, Creator-God, means that you’ll need to “reach out” to Him. Reaching out to the God of the universe is a little bit like what you might imagine a ghost movie might show as someone talks to a Ghost in a house; but this is on a much more personal and monumental scale.

Reaching out to God means you actually speak out loud to Him. He claims to be listening, and He claimed He’s eagerly waiting for you to seek Him out, and reach out to Him; so that’s what you must do. In the quietness of your bedroom, car, or something – you “REACH OUT” to God and tell Him something like “God, if you’re real…. I’d really like to know…. will you please show yourself to me? I’m reaching out in faith so show Me what to do. Speak to Me, and I’ll have just enough faith to reach out a bit…. and follow you”..

Reaching out to God like that, is kind of like on Indiana Jones and the temple of Doom – where there is a seemingly IMPASSIBLE chasm…… but unknown to us, there is an INVISIBLE BRIDGE spanning the chasm.

This invisible bridge is one you could only see if you sought it out, and took a step in faith. Just like what Indiana Jones does, we must step out and trust that there’s something there. After we step out and land on the bridge, we’ll be able to confidently walk across it in the future; But until we’ve discovered it, our minds are left in despair of the chasm. The bottom line is that starting a relationship with God starts with acknowledging Him with just a little faith – and reaching out to Him.

Faith is just like that – the first step to having a relationship with God is actually reaching out to Him and having enough faith to speak to Him and ask for His help…..You start with acknowledging that He might exist….

So the God of the bible can’t simply be found through the scientific method – because He is a PERSON. Just like a person that you’re trying to get to know, the next step in the relationship is to get to know each other. “Getting to know God” is done by “following Jesus”.

2 Follow Jesus

God has been around forever, and He’s been interacting with Humanity for thousands of years, but it all came to a head when God came down to earth as the person of Jesus. The ancient documents of the Bible are documents that’ve been rigorously scrutinized and are worthy of your engagement. After reaching out to God, you’ll have to get to know Him, His story, His character, How He thinks, His standards and His ways.

When Jesus was on earth, He told filthy sinners, cheaters, prostitutes and others to “stand up, and follow Him” in order to start the process of placing their faith and trust in Him. Jesus showed us that faith begins with saying “Yes” to Him, deciding that you’ll submit your ways to His ways in all things.  That means that we decide to “install” Jesus’ way into our life by obeying His commands.  His commands were so much more than a list of rules, they were a way of believing, living, and a relationship which require us to know who He is and to work at implementing His way into our life.  His way is to Love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Following Jesus often means to get to know Him and His way through His word and His disciples. The word is the Bible, and a good bible believing Church is a great place to find other disciples to do life with. Getting to know Jesus’ way is done by knowing the testimony or account of His life, which is done by learning about Him in the New Testament.

Reading through the Bible with someone Who knows Him, is the most helpful step in having a relationship with the God of the universe. The “testament” or testimony of who God is can be found in the Bible. The “Old Testament” is the story of the God creating and then about a group of people God chose to interact with and call “His people”, known as the Israelites. While the “New Testament” is all about Jesus.  The Old Testament predicted the coming of a “Messiah” that would reconcile people to God, and Jesus was the fulfillment of that prophecy.

If you acknowledge God, reach out to Him, and then Follow Him as I described above, I promise that you will eventually find yourself believing that Jesus was who He claimed to be. But let me pause right there for a moment, and talk about a glaring issue.

WHY ALL THIS SCREWING AROUND WITH FAITH?

If you’re like Me, I immediately ask “why should I have to reach out to God like a stupid make-believe Ghost? If He’s so loving, powerful, and good – why doesn’t He just show Himself and give Me a definite sign? Why do we need all this “screwing around with faith?”

Here are two thoughts about this valid question:

The first reason why God doesn’t just show himself to us in physical form is because – drum roll please………..He’s done that already. He showed Himself multiple times throughout history; to Adam and Eve and the ancients, to Abraham, Moses, and the entire nation of Israel, and then through the prophets and eventually with Jesus. God has intervened plenty of times in the past, but Us seeing Him, hasn’t lead to the submission and obedience that you’d imagine. Consider that the people of Israel were witness to some of the craziest miracles God’s ever done, and they still struggled with obedience, idolatry, and sin; over and over and over again. The whole story in the old testament shows how God set aside and chose a particular nation of people to be His very own , yet they went through cycle after cycle of Rebellion, punishment, repentance, and eventual restoration. This happened over and over again. It’s crazy that the people who witnessed God’s miraculous wonders struggled so much to love and obey God.

So when you think to yourself “why doesn’t God just show Himself and make it much easier for us to believe?”, remember that He’s done that multiple times, which is what the Bible testifies about. He DID show Himself, we read about that in the Bible.

The second point needs a quick nuance. We now see that God HAS interacted and plainly revealed Himself to humanity, with mixed results. But couldn’t God just be constantly present in the physical form, sprinkling in displays of His omnipotence and omniscience so we’d be trembling to obey?

If God were to come and eradicate the need for trust, faith, and reliance; we would simply be slaves to God. God says that He wants to have a relationship with us that’s marked by LOVE, and LOVE is only LOVE, when it’s given freely rather than coerced or commanded.

In order to stay consistent with His character and nature of being All-Good, and Holy, He’s done things a certain way which we can only slightly comprehend. He’s done exactly whats necessary to bring Him glory, which involves choice. Rather than make us all His perfect subjects, His plan has included Sin, which is very difficult to understand if you don’t consider that love is only love when there’s an opportunity to turn away and choose otherwise. It’s a complex issue to understand, but God doesn’t just hover in our bedrooms and cars with a laser cannon to fear us into submission, because that wouldn’t cultivate love!

Now to summarize where we are:

To have a relationship with God we must acknowledge He might exist, reach out to Him, then start to follow Him by learning about and implementing “His Way” into our lives which is found in the Bible.

3 – Believe

As your following Jesus, and reading through the scriptures, you’re going to see that God exists, He made everything good and perfect but man disobeyed His goodness which introduced death and what’s known as “the curse”. This curse was what God struck people with after they disobeyed the commandment not to eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. When Adam and Eve ate it, they betrayed God, and became rebels of Him; God’s punishment was that we would toil throughout the earth having to scratch out our existence while trying to be reconciled to God.

God laid out a perfect moral law, and we break that law by sinning. God said that the wages of sin, is DEATH. Therefore, Adam and Eve’s sin carried with it the penalty of death and damnation. In order to reconcile Adam and Eve to Himself, God actually sacrificed an animal right away, and then used the skin to cover them. This was the first sin, and the first atonement, which is a theme throughout God’s word and Man’s entire existence. When we break God’s rules, we become guilty; the punishment is damnation and death, God’s nation of Israel would use a complex system of animal sacrifice to atone for their sins, and eventually Jesus would be sacrificed to atone for all of humanities’ sin.

So we’ve all got this problem with sin because we break God’s law. Sin is simply breaking God’s moral law which is primarily found in the ten commandments. All of us break these laws often throughout the day, and we’re all guilty. If you don’t believe me, read these questions that show if you’ve ever disobeyed God’s law:

  • Have you always obeyed your parents?
  • Have you always loved God?
  • Have you ever lied?
  • Jesus said hating someone is like murdering them in your heart, have you ever hated someone?
  • Have you ever been greedy?
  • Have you ever stolen anything?
  • Jesus said that if we have lust for a person in our heart, it’s the same as if we committed adultery with Her; Have you ever lusted after someone?
  • Do you covet, or desire anything other than what you’ve been blessed with?
  • Do you ever use God’s name as a swear word?

By now, we all should realize that we have each PERSONALLY broken these laws. The biggest problem, is that we can’t wash these sins away simply by saying “I’m a good person, nobody’s perfect”. Because God is HOLY, perfect, and just, that means We have PERSONAL judgements upon us. Would a good judge allow a person who is guilty of committing murder to go free? Would a good judge refuse to hold a thief accountable for their crimes? NO! A good judge would render a good and just ruling, otherwise the judge would be corrupt. Our God is so perfect, good, and Holy, that He holds us accountable for every single sin we’ve ever committed; We have a HUGE rap sheet that condemns us.

Sound a little extreme? Well it is! Think of how extreme the fall of Adam is when you consider that God provided two trees – the prohibited one called the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”, then the one they where permitted to eat called “the tree of eternal life”.God made us His special creations, made us in His image, gave us EVERYTHING we would ever need to live in perfection, and we slapped Him in the face and rebelled. Now, each of us comes out of the womb chock-full-o-sin. We’re greedy, mean, intolerant, banshees even when we’re toddlers. Anyone with a toddler knows that sin exists.

4 – Realize you’ve broken God’s law, and repent.

So we’re guilty, but now what? We carry a judgement that must be paid: Death. HERES THE GOOD NEWS. Jesus paid your fine by dying on the cross in the manner that the scriptures predicted! Jesus takes our punishment and says we can go free, so long as we believe in Him, and place our trust in His work on the cross for salvation.

Here’s an interesting concept; Jesus paid our fine, which is the ONLY thing that clears our guilt. Our good works, not matter how sincere or pious, do NOTHING to clear our guilt, only Jesus’ work on the cross does that. Jesus clearly said that it is our faith in Him that saves us, and that our works do not make us go to heaven. Nothing we can do can get us to heaven, only submitting and placing our trust in Jesus and His work on the cross will do that.

5 – Place your faith and trust in Jesus’ work on the cross for salvation

You see, Jesus is like a parachute. Imagine you’re flying on a plane and you find out that the plane is going to crash, and someone offers you a parachute. Simply acknowledging that the parachute will save you doesn’t help, you need to put the parachute on, in order to be saved when the plane crashes.

The crash is our death and judgement day. Anyone caught without Jesus as their parachute, will find themselves in eternal torment, death, and in a lake of fire.

What is it that causes you to put on your parachute? It is the FEAR OF GOD. That’s what the fear of God is, knowing that He did create everything, He makes the rules, and we’ve broken them. We’ll have to face our creator one day, and give an account for everything we’ve ever done; even if we trust in Jesus. The difference is that our names will be written in the “book of life”, where the atoned, justified, and reconciled names are written.

When we place our faith in Christ, and trust Him, our parachute is on and we are justified, or reconciled with God. But now that we’ve been saved, should we keep on disobeying God’s rules? NO! But are we truly able to live in a manner which doesn’t break God’s law? NO! What then must we do?

The answer is to REPENT and be transformed. We need to Repent from our sin, and turn to God and trust in Jesus’ work on the cross for salvation. When we do this, we are no longer rebels from God but are friends of God. Even when we break the rules now, we’re still in the family. But we can’t keep sinning, Anyone who truly believes that God is going to judge them one day, will fear being cross with Him, and will be UNABLE to continue to keep on sinning deliberately. In other words, our desires and attitudes must be changed for us.

6 – Receive eternal life and the Holy Spirit

Because God knows we need His help, He’s given us His word and the Holy Spirit to help develop new desires, thoughts, and attitudes. The Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of us when we believe, to guide us in our relationship, convict us of sin (conscience), and to empower us to do good works. In other words, we’re not in this alone! The Holy Spirit is like an anti-virus which will start to convict us of our bad thoughts, behaviors and attitudes.

7 – Seek first God’s kingdom and Living a Transformed, Holy, Life

This is all about living a life that’s “fragrant”, good, and holy while helping others hear the good news about Jesus!  Share the good news in a winsome manner, and let your life be a light that shines in an uplifting, honoring manner!

So heres the conclusion:

  • There is a God.
  • He built us all for relationship with Him (and others).
  • We are born estranged to Him, under the curse of death and damnation because of the fall of Adam and Eve.
  • The first step to knowing Him is acknowledging that He might exist and reaching out to Him because He is a PERSON.
  • Once you reach out, Jesus tells us to Follow Him, which means to start to get to know Him by digging into His person, story, character, and promises which are testified about in the documents of the old and new testament. Not only that, but spending time in a bible believing Church will do amazing things for your walk.
  • Once you follow, you’ll eventually have a moment when you believe. You’ll then find yourself in a position where you want to repent of your own sin, which is condemning you to Hell.
  • Jesus justifies you the moment you believe and trust in Him. You then receive the free gift of eternal life.
  • The moment your faith and trust is in Him, God gives the gift of the “counselor” or Holy Spirit; which then lives inside you and will convict you of sin, give you power to do His will, and comfort you.

Here are the most top level commands of God:

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

“Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and His righteousness, then everything else will be added unto you.”

This is the love of God, that we should obey His commandments; and they are not burdensome.

My hope is that this helps people find their way to God, to understand how to be reconciled with Him, and helps my family have a permanent testament to what I believe.

Confront the Goliath’s in your life

0

What in your life would be considered to be a “giant” that you’re challenged by?

The incident of David and Goliath shows us that one little stone, and the power of God, is stronger than any giant we’ll ever face. It also shows us that we need to know and trust in God’s promises to inspire us to obey & defeat giants.

We all have the option of ignoring the Giants in our lives or facing them.  Contending with our “giants” is difficult, the easiest thing to do is run from the giant and ignore it.

Ignoring the problems of porn, over-weight, anger, debt, or the rotten condition of a heart or marriage, will only allow it to become more rampant. It’s easy for our hope and courage to disappear when we refuse to confront the giants in our lives.

Sin & foolishness can grow into giants if we aren’t “scanning” our lives with the Bible, prayer, and other believers.

David faced down Goliath and shouted “The battle is the Lords and He will deliver you into my hands!” We should face our giants and attack them by trusting in God’s promises concerning the giant we face.  That means we need to know God’s word and promises about the subject at hand.

We can boldly face any giant with God’s power.  We can have power greater than ourselves and God will provide the courage. The courage to face Giants doesn’t come right away, you often have to build it by defeating small adversaries and building up to the point where you can conquer the big ones.

David defeated lions or bears when they attacked the sheep He tended over.  David had stood up to these adversaries and confronted them through reliance on God and diligent preparation.  These little victories helped build His faith and inspired Him to prepare with His sling skills.

David was “leveled up” in preparation for Goliath because He was also involved in a purposeful, productive, and obedient endeavor like being a shepherd.

Sitting around playing video games, living for partying, staying stoned all the time, watching endless television, worshiping sports, and the endless frivolity of life generally serves to deter us from engaging in meaningful or worthy battles. Christians are called to “spur each other along towards acts of good works and love”, which means we ought to scrutinize our dependence on frivolity, and take steps towards doing small things that aren’t easy – things that defy the “gravity” of frivolity, pleasure, and casualness.

Small, productive habits done over long periods of time are much more powerful than quick bursts of enthusiasm.

David knew that when He stepped up, God always showed up.  David understood that God had a plan and that as He was aligned with God’s promises, He couldn’t go wrong.  In fact, part of the confidence that David had must have come from remembering the promise God made about Him through Samuel; that David would eventually become the king of Israel.

David remembered God’s promise and He trusted it would happen; this made David very bold.

David’s confidence and faith in God was enough to inspire King Saul to wager the entire nation’s servitude upon the outcome of David’s battle – that’s some serious business!

When we step up boldly, we can experience God’s faithfulness to act on our behalf. When we step up, God shows up.  But this can only be done by understanding who God is, and what His character is like by reading about Him in the Bible.  When we know who He is, then we will know He has promised things to His followers, which we should fully embrace. God’s promises should cause us to boldly  confront our sins, do purposeful work, serve others, and conquer the giants in our life.

With God’s help, we can fix or improve almost every facet of our life, but if we ignore these giants, they become more dangerous.

So what does God want you to confront in your life?  Has anything become center-stage in your mind or heart that’s actually turned into an idol?  Do you look at porn, participate in debaucherous parties? Are you having sex, or crossing other sexual boundaries? Are you just bouncing through life trying to keep entertained rather than honor God with your time?  Are you short-tempered, angry or bitter?  Are you self-righteous? Does all your money go to your own consumption? Are you a crummy parent? Friend? Neighbor? Are you a glutton? Are you a gossip?  ANY OF THESE COULD BE THE GIANT you need to face.

Remember that when you are going to be brave and act according to God’s plan in the bible, you’ll surely be criticized by people; even your family.  David’s brother burned with anger when David showed up to the battle, and started lashing into Him with cheap shots in 1 Samuel 17:24. His brother was probably jealous concerning David being chosen as God’s king-to-be.  Not only that, but the brother’s jealousy exposed his distrust in God, a lack of faith, and an overall wickedness. This showed David that His brother’s criticism was meritless and not worthy of his acceptance.

Not only did David’s brother try to minimize Him, but Goliath and Samuel did as well.  When you try to do something noble,you should lean on God’s promises and pray that you will be able to decipher which feedback or criticism is legitimate.  Feedback isn’t easy, but it is necessary for improving our lives and becoming a better version of ourselves.  It’s not helpful to discredit criticism just because it’s not easy to hear, so don’t be afraid to consider the criticism.

David did evaluate the criticism from His brother, because some criticism is helpful, but then David turns to other people to evaluate it even more. Some criticism is good, but you should just move on from unfair criticism.  The key to knowing the difference is utilizing God’s word, other Godly and wise people, prayer, and discernment given by God.  In fact, criticism definitely has an important role in making us wise – the proverbs are full of truths that teach us to seek wisdom, insight, feedback, constructive criticism, and not to proudly hold to our own opinions but to humbly facilitate truthfulness.

Remember that if people are not for you (no intent on building you up), you ought to place a barrier between you and them. There are destructive people who want to see you fail, who are not in line with God’s command to “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself”.

It can be difficult to decipher between critical sources; which are constructive and which are sent from he father of lies.  Remember that Satan means to kill, rob, steal, and destroy. The devil is scheming against you, lies and accusations are a consistent thing He uses to destroy your heart.  So be sober-minded, and consider criticism with the filter of Godliness. When people chip away at you over and over, you should limit the exposure you have with them. If you are married to this person you should move in on those problems together.

David used his disadvantage as an advantage. He was just a kid against an experienced fighter, but David changed the fight entirely – refusing to fight the way Goliath demanded.  Goliath wanted a close encounter, but David stuck with the sling with which he was highly skilled.

What is the disadvantage in your life, that will build strengths in you which God will use? How might these have created  “hidden advantages?”

We too often fail to remember that God’s sovereign plan is for us to rely on Him, to have an obedience to His plan, and to participate in His work on this earth. God promises that His plans for us are to prosper us, not to harm us, and that they are plans to give us a hope and a future.

While the truth that God’s power usually transforms our immediate physical lives is relieving,  encouraging, and enjoyable, we must remember that His promise is not that we will be free of trouble.  In fact, Jesus promised that if we obey by forsaking our own way of life to pursue His way, and by sharing with others about the kingdom of heaven, we would bring division to the world and face trouble.

In this world we will have troubles.  In fact, it could be said that if we are comfortable, we aren’t living the way Christ really wants us to be.  That’s because comfort brings boredom – not being involved with what God wants to do on earth.

If life is too comfortable, take a look around you to see if there isn’t one person that you need to take mercy on – and move in on as described in this podcast by Andy Stanley.  Not only does our “preaching” bring about potential persecution, but we also know that sickness, death, loss, disease, nature, and all other rampant evil and sin will hit us.

God’s promises is that we WILL have trouble in this world, but that we should take heart because Jesus has overcome this world. 

In other words, it’s not all about our physical “rewards” here on earth or comfort, but it’s also about God seeing us as, and rewarding us for, being a “good and faithful servant” upon entering His presence in heaven.  God will give us rewards in heaven for the stuff that’s not fun here on earth.

God’s plan is three fold:

1 – Salvation – Justification through Faith in Jesus

The first thing God wants is that we would accept God’s payment for our penalty of sin when we place our faith in Jesus Christ & repent of sin.  We are justified through faith and trust in Jesus – the best analogy is that of a parachute:  If you were in a plan that was about to crash, you wouldn’t just acknowledge that a parachute existed – you would put it on.  Thats the same thing with Jesus, we must acknowledge that He is God but then put Him on and turn away from our sin – this is the primary and most important thing to happen in God’s plan.

2 – Be transformed into the person God designed you to be through obedience.

That we would be sanctified through holiness and obedience to the Holy Spirit;  Once we are justified through faith, our lives should be transformed into the likeness of Jesus.  We must not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but we must allow our minds to be renewed and our hearts to be molded, into the of Jesus.  This means we actually live more like Jesus through obedience in an ever increasing way.

3 – Bring about the kingdom here on this earth. Good deeds & reaching others.

That we would do good works planned for us which gives us fruit here on earth as reward and also TREASURES IN HEAVEN. The fruit of the spirit is Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control.  But there is also some sort of heavenly reward system that is alluded to in Scripture, which we cannot fully fathom here on earth.  These rewards are usually promised in various ways which are counterintuitive from the world’s way of doing things.  for example:

When we obey God, there might not be immediate earthly or physical impacts; but God promises that there are “heavenly” or “eternal” rewards for us when we die.  That’s like getting EPIC loot in heaven 🙂

We must trust God’s promise of “Heavenly rewards” when there doesn’t seem to be immediate relief after making Godly decisions.

Look at what http://www.equip.org/bible_answers/are-there-degrees-of-reward-in-heaven/wrote about these.

Here are some verses about Heavenly Rewards:

“First, it is significant to note that in his most famous sermon, Christ repeatedly referred to rewards. In concluding the Beatitudes he said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:11–12, emphasis added). Christ continued his message by warning the crowd that if they did their acts of righteousness to be seen by men, they would not receive a reward in heaven (Matthew 6:1–6, 16–18). Jesus Christ’s message is crystal clear. Rather than fixate on earthly vanities, such as the admiration of men, we ought to focus on such eternal verities as the approval of the Master. He exhorted his followers to store up “treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20).

Moreover, Jesus made essentially the same point in his parables. In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14–30), Jesus tells the story of a man who entrusts his property to his servants before going on a long journey. Each servant received an amount commensurate with his abilities. To one he gave five talents, to another two talents, and to a third he gave one. The servant who received five talents doubled his money, as did the servant who had received two. The last servant, however, showed gross negligence and buried his master’s money in the ground. When the master returned, he rewarded the faithful servants with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” The unfaithful servant not only forfeited his reward but was thrown into outer darkness, “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.””

TRUST GOD, CONFRONT YOUR GIANTS, UNDERSTAND GOD’S PROMISES BY READING THE BIBLE, LET THE MEDITATION OF YOUR HEART BE UPON HIS WORD, AND BOLDLY LIVE A LIFE EMPOWERED BY GOD’S PROMISES.

You have no choice in what happens to you, but your reaction and choice will help you the most. In fact, your disadvantage is part of Gods design and plan for you that is meant for you to fulfill your precise part of the body of Christ on this planet.

BOTTOM LINE – PLEASE READ THE BIBLE!