Pharisees Are Alive and Well

I used to think that Pharisees were like an extinct dinosaur only to be found in the pages of the bible, like a dragon in the pages of a fairy tale. But alas my hopes and dreams have been burst.  Unfortunately my wife was the one who got to experience the acts of this religious elite.

This relic of legalism is unfortunately not that rare. There are plenty of people who think they are doing the right thing by being judgmental and unloving.  Though I’m not an expert I think the  Pharisaical malady comes from self-centered a faith. A narcissism of faith. They look around at other people and say to them selves ” I’m not as bad as that person” or I’m not doing the awful things those other people are doing”.  That idea presupposes that sins have a rank, and some are worse then others.

The reality is we all are broken and sinful, and we all need the blood of Jesus to cover us.

I was talking to a friend (not a follower of Christ) who retold the story of how he defended Christians when his friends told him that all Christians are judgmental and condemning. Unfortunately I think his friends have experienced the dreaded Pharisee. These odd creatures seem to think that they are the worlds moral compass.

I think a lot of Christians have read Matthew 18:15-17, about how to deal with conflict within the church and they make two mistakes. 1) they think that this is how they should treat everyone,i.e. they confront everyone on their sins or mess-ups. Uh  . . . . No! This is specifically how you treat members of the body, Christ followers. 2) They assume verse 17 means to kick people out of the church or cut them out of their lives for leading a bad life, because it says “treat them like you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Historical point, it was the Pharisees who didn’t socialize with pagan’s and tax collectors.

On the first point, there is no reason to keep someone, anyone, accountable for living a lifestyle they have not agreed to. It is the Holy Spirits job to convict people of their sinfulness and not ours.

On the second point, “treating people like pagans and tax collectors”, How did Jesus treat these people, the pagans and tax collectors. Well . . . He did ask one to be his disciple (Luke 5:27-32), and then he went to hang out with his friends at a big party.

There are two more telling stories of how Jesus dealt with tough situations. In John 4:1-27 Jesus meets a woman who’s been married five times and is living with a man who is not her husband, and John 8:1-11 a poor woman caught in the act of adultery (not an easy place to be for Jesus but more for this woman).  In either case Jesus did not cut them out or separate himself from them, instead he loved and cared for their souls.

If Jesus loved and cared for broken hurting people and railed against the religious elite, why do we ostracize people and act like the we’re better then everyone else. As followers of Christ lets follow his example, sounds almost to simple.


Stay Fueled Up

Many of us learned to drive in our teen years. And who ever taught us to drive had to show us what all the gauges meant and how to use them. On that instrument panel is a gauge that tells you how much gas you have in the fuel tank. I have countless times run that tank to nothing but a drop of gas coasting into a gas station. All because I wasn’t paying attention to how fueled up my car was.

Once on a long road trip with my wife. We were driving a long stretch of desert between Phoenix and Los Angeles, a stretch of road we had not driven before. With my 1 year old daughter asleep in the back seat. We both agreed to skip a town and push on to the next stop before we filled up. As we got further in to the Desert badlands of California and the fuel gauge drifted towards the E, we both started to panic. We got out our cell phone and starting calling the police and looking for a gas station on the map. The nice officer who answered the phone assured us that there was a gas station with in a few miles and we would be there soon. Even though I believed her I white knuckled the steering wheel the rest of the trip until the gas station was in view.

On a spiritual level we often do the same. Wandering through life on our own power never checking the dash board to see how we are doing with the God and the Holy Spirit, our guide. Then when a situation comes up that overwhelms us we panic trying desperately to hear from God.

I’ve known lots of people who have come to Christ through just such a process as well. Life came at them fast, job loss, cancer, divorce, etc. and through an overwhelming sense of incompleteness they turned to God.

This is the not to be the state for followers and disciples of Christ.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NIV)

If we are true disciples of Christ, our aim is to be like our Savior. Jesus walked in communion with God at all times, and we are to do the same. If you want to react to life in Christ like manner you have to stay connected to Christ, always.

What do you do to stay “Fueled Up”

Called to Another Level

It’s amazing to me what seeing God’s love does to me. Over and over again, He calls me to be more than I am. There are people in the world I should hate but seeing that God’s fully justified in hating me because of my own sin, and He doesn’t, I just can’t.

I had a step dad growing up. (I have had 3) This guy who should have been a father figure to me, said some of the most awful things to me emotionally grinding a ten year old boy into the dirt. I should hate this man with the fiery heat of a thousand suns, but I can’t and I won’t. The love that God showed me by dying on the cross for me shows me there is another way.

This love called me out of my shell as a ten year old to make Jesus my Lord an savior. I have seen this same love give hope to a young man whose whole family taunted and made fun of him for deciding to follow Christ. I have seen God’s love give a young lady hope in the future to stop cutting herself. I have seen marriages healed because people trusted God’s ways and not what they wanted to do.

God calls everyone to him self. But he doesn’t stop there. He calls us to live at a Higher Level. A level that is beyond our ability to do on our own. It’s a life that is only possible with Christ as our heart and guide. Only through Christ can we have peace in the midst of the storm and hope in the darkest of situations.

Why aren’t people reading their Bible

What is with Christians not reading their bible. It’s so important to be in the bible and actively reading God’s word.  So much of our days take us away from being close to God.  Being in the bible and being impacted by its’ words daily is the best way to stay near to Christ.

This has been a major theme  just in the last two days. I had coffee with a coach and his wife, the major theme was what does the bible say. I was working out with another coach this morning and we talked about being out of the habit of reading daily. I’ve been meeting with a young athlete who wants to stay grounded in his faith when he goes to college, but he isn’t in the word daily.

To all of them, and I’ve been saying to myself, being in God’s word daily is how we stay connected to God’s perfect guidance and hear how he wants us to live.

With one of them I spent time talking about the gift of tongues and discerning what our experience was based on what scripture says. This is a subject that easily divides Christians and is an “in house” debate.  But we agreed that we need to know what the bible says about the topic and let that lead us into how we should act on that particular area of our faith.

It’s funny how we Christians agree on so many things but a small issue like spiritual gifts can divide us so quickly. The bible says we are all brothers and sisters, meaning we are all part of the same family. And yet we argue about such petty things.

The bible needs to be our standard. ” it is good for teaching correcting and training in righteousness” If that’s what God says of it why don’t we treat it that way. So many people I know think its some sort of mystical talisman that only the most “learn-ed” among us can possibly understand. But it says “don’t be drunk” that’s pretty straight forward, and so is “love your wife as Christ loved the Church”. These things aren’t hard to understand.

” I am the same yesterday today and forever” if that’s true then the bible that has been the same for 2000 years still accurately describes the God that we worship. He’s not going to change based on the culture, and he’s not going to change because of technology. When we read the bible today it still tells us about the God of today. How do I know? Cause he doesn’t change.

John 15:5 says apart from God we can do nothing. Reading the bible is THE BEST WAY to stay connect to Christ. So if we want to anything of value why don’t we read our bible every day? What is keeping you from being in God’s word and getting to know him better?


3 Steps to Telling YOUR God Story

Everybody has a story. If you have a relationship with God, aka you’re a Christian, then you have a God story. That is how God is working in your life.

I think its comical that believers have “witness envy”. You know you don’t have the,”  I was a axe murder then one day one of my victims shared Jesus with me and I gave my life to Christ and moved to Somalia to feed the poor, story” . But everyone has a God story and most likely it is relevant to the people you Know and are going to share it with.

There are two types of God stories that you can share with those around you. There’s (1) how you came to put your faith in Jesus and (2)  what God is doing in your life.

. . . Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)

Basic steps for telling your God story 1. You before God – what was it that drew you to want God in your life. Don’t over glamorize how bad you were. 2. How you met God – how did you get introduced. What was it that made you fall in love with Christ. 3. How has you life changed – what about you is different.  What hope do you have now that you have chosen to follow Christ.

It only takes a few minutes to think through it. You don’t have to be a polished speaker to share your story. My experience has been that most of the time this happens over a meal or coffee with a Friend. If you want to practice try it on a Friend who is a Christian.

“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly” – GK Chesterton

The most important part is just to tell it. Your Story is how God changed your life, that’s a miracle.

Overcoming Your Parents Divorce

Divorce is rampant in America today with more then half of all marriages ending in divorce. For me it’s personal, my parents were divorced when I was two and my mom was married four times by the time I was a junior in high school. Needless to say my formative years were shaped by the destruction that divorce causes in a family.

In scripture there there is only one place where Jesus interacts with someone who is deeply impacted by divorce and that’s in John 4 and the woman at the well. Jesus never condoned her divorces but he didn’t condemn her as a person either. Jesus offered what she truly needed a relationship with God and a hope with no end, himself.

Divorce is not Gods plan. It feels like the easy route to happiness but causes destruction. Most of the time divorce happens when two people aren’t getting along in marriage and aren’t willing to do the hard work to fix it. So they think just ending the marriage will get them out of the bad situation. It does provide distance from fights and confrontation but it causes destruction in almost all of your relationships. Especial for the children of divorcing parents.

So as the child of divorcing parents how do you deal with it. First You can’t fix your parents marriage. It’s not your relationship so you can’t do the hard work for them. Even so the idea of divorcing parents calls into question everything in your life especially your own identity and your relationship with either parent.

We all have imperfect parents but whether your parents are together or not but as a believer in Christ you have a perfect father in heaven who loves you and gave his son so that he could know you.

God loved you so much that he gave his most prized possession so he could re-establish a relationship with you. You are that important to Him. That is the fact that will get you through the tough time when you struggling with how to deal with your parents divorce.

But what are some practice steps to getting through you parents divorce?

4 things you can do to deal with divorce in your family 1. Talk to God – daily quiet time, journaling 2. Lean on friends 3. Ask for help – God, Friends, teachers, pastors, etc 4. Give yourself a break – it’s not your fault don’t act like it is, give yourself breaks from it go for a drive get out of the house, etc

Maybe it’s not your parents but a close Friend of yours who’s parents are going through it and you want to know how to help.

3 Ways You Can Help a Friend Deal with Divorce 1. Be there – talk it out or just be quiet 2. Invite them out or over to your house – Give stable environment to escape to 3. Pray for them

Most importantly

Be determined not to let it happen in your own marriage!

Living On Purpose