It’s Easy to Worship People

Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?… (1 Co 1:13).

Paul had gained some popularity amongst those to whom he ministered. It’s easy to put a person up on a pedestal and start to venerate them in a way that is unhealthy. Paul makes it quite clear to his readers that he’s not the one that is to be praised or worship, but God alone.
 
The problem is, at least for us, we do the same thing. We exalt certain Christian leaders, singers, authors and pastors, giving them a certain reverence and awe that they do not deserve.
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If we focus our Christianity solely on what rises or falls within these leaders in our lives, we will become sorely dissapointed and disillusioned in our faith. Especially if these leaders are young and lack the maturity that is needed to truly know and understand how to lead people and how to process through ideas in a way that honors God.
 
Maybe its just me, but I think its somewhat scary that we give full ownership of the shepherding of God’s flock to people fresh out of seminary, with little to no real life, on the ground, ministry experience, but a lot of book knowledge. A 24 year old needs to be shepherded first so that they know how to be a shepherd. Too often, within our church culture we dismiss this need because it’s easier to just pass the reigns of our churches to someone else.
 
I know for me, I would have made a lot less mistakes and cared for people much better had I been conscience of the fact that I needed a lot of wise council speaking into my life and holding me accountable.
 
I think we’re always looking for a pass in the church, but Jesus calls us to become a family. If we keep passing off the responsibility to shepherd those under us we will continue to see the chips fall in the wrong direction and the church and along with its people will suffer. I’ve heard many churches say, “We just need a young pastor to come in and revive this church.” I would say, no, what you need is a church who is bought into the mission of making disciples. You need young and old in partnership together speaking into each other, walking with one another on this journey through life.
 
Our churches are so concerned with numerical growth that we forget to care for the numbers within our flock. We think that Jesus wants us to grow a church building, but His church is His people and growing people is much harder and time consuming than filling seats. I can fill a seat, but the work Jesus asks of us is to fill up people with grace, truth and love by making time for it.
 
Seek today to make a disciple and care well for the people whom God has given you. Don’t pass off the responsibility of Kingdom work to the paid staff at your church and be careful not to place them on pedestals above the rest.
 
Lord, help us to be wise within your church. Forgive us for giving people way too much power. We just love to worship people, Father, please forgive us. I know that I’ve done it, so help me instead to walk in your wisdom, always lifting you the highest, because you are worthy, in Jesus name, Amen.

Life is Full of Disappointing Moments

Blessed are all who take refuge in him….(Psalm 2:12).

Life is full of disappointing moments, isn’t it? In fact, they are sure to happen. We cannot avoid them. King David can relate. He faced his own share of disappointing moments in life. Yet, he continued to seek the Lord and find refuge in Him.
 
When life brings you something that shakes you up a bit it’s easy to grow discouraged and disheartened, especially if what happens brings with it some hurt that you have to wrestle through. It is good to wrestle with God through your hurt and disappointment. It is good to take refuge in Him when life brings about a disappointing moment. Truly, only the Lord can steady our hearts and renew our minds as we give Him our whole selves.
 
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I’m not saying that finding refuge in the Lord is going to offer some automatic fix for your disappointment, but what I am saying is that in the midst of it, you can have peace knowing that your Heavenly Father holds you close, reminding you that He is for you and not against you.
 
I remember as a child how often I would burrow up in my dad’s lap. It was so comforting and safe there. His lap didn’t take all of my problems away, but it certainly brought me peace.
 
If you’re feeling a bit discouraged, take a moment to burrow up in your Heavenly Father’s lap. It’s safe there and good. It’s comforting for the soul weighed down by a discouraging moment and it offers peace for those who seek the Lord. I am finding, at least for me, that He grows me through the grieving as I release my desire to be in control to Him.
 
Lord, sometimes I don’t know what to pray, but I know that you are near. I know that you bring comfort and joy. I know that I have lasting freedom in you. Jesus, please be the place I find myself in. I long to burrow up into your lap and find my comfort, joy, and delight in you, Amen.

He’s Not Finished With You Yet

he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus… (Php 1:6).

Your story isn’t over. There’s so much work still to be done in your life. Will we make mistakes, hit some bumps in the road and make decisions out of immaturity, pride and fear? We will. Will we face consequences for those decisions? We will. But, just because our journey got a little messy doesn’t mean that our story is over. You see, God is always writing a new story on our hearts. It’s a story of redemption, grace and forgiveness.
 
He loves to restore and redeem. He loves to take broken things and make them beautiful.
 
I know during the many seasons in my life when I have not listened to the promptings of the Lord and have suffered consequences for my foolish actions I have felt like a failure to God, but beloved, this is not how He sees you. Truly, He counsels you in the way of wisdom, but if you choose to go your own way, God is there when everything falls apart. He’s a good Father who walks with you through your mess. Don’t hide your face from Him in shame. I can just picture Him saying, “Beloved, I knew this was going to happen, but I’m here with you now and I still believe in you and love you.”
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I am learning that what I need is the same kind of attitude towards people who stumble and fall. It’s easy to say, “I told you so,’ when someone falls, but it’s best to say, “I’m here with you now.” Then, help them walk the journey of healing. Don’t shame them or rub their face in their failures. They already feel a deep sense of shame. They don’t need you to remind them of it.
 
God is working even in the most broken areas of our lives. He continues to pursue us. He lavishes His love upon us. He can take your messed up life and use it to display HIs glory. That is good news indeed.
 
Lord, here I am, use me to be a light for your glory. Help me to be full of grace for those who fail. Grant me the strength to walk with them when life falls apart. Lord, fill me with the love of Jesus for those who are hurting. Make me more like you, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Now This is Just Remarkable

On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying…(Genesis 15:18).

God made a covenant with Abram, or as its better understood in the original language, He “cut” a covenant with Abram. In the ancient near east to make a covenant with someone was extremely binding and very meaningful.
 
The two parties would create a trench and then take an animal, or in this case, a number of animals and slay them and split them down the middle as a sacrifice for the covenant. They would then lay the two halves of the animals on each side of the trench so that the bottom of the trench would be filled with blood. This is what was called, “the blood path.”
 
Then, in most cases both parties would walk the path togethe. Signifying that if either of them broke their promises to one another that day they should be treated as these sacrifices. This was taken very seriously as each party was communicating to the other that if they didn’t fulfill their part, they’re as good as dead. As if saying, “Let me suffer for it and may this blood be against me for my rebellion against this covenant.
 
The remarkable thing in Genesis 15 is that only God walks the blood path. Signifying that He’ll take the heat, not just for Himself, but for Abram as well. Obviously, God stays faithful to His covenant promises and never breaks this covenant with Abram. However, mankind, in their sinfulness is unable to keep covenants perfectly and so one day, God, in all of His power steps down from Heaven, and sends His son to suffer for the children of Abraham. Which by the way, is you and me.
 
Yes, Jesus fulfills the conditions of the blood path for us. He takes the heat for our wrongdoing. He walks the path and takes the punishment that we were supposed to walk. God was communicating the gospel through this act thousands of years before the lamb of God set foot on the earth.
 
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If that’s not remarkable, I’m not sure what is. If that doesn’t make your heart sing and dance with gratitude towards Jesus, I wonder if you’re still breathing.
 
Jesus suffered, like a lamb who was slain. His blood was poured out for our forgiveness. He was ripped, beaten and bruised for us. He walked the path we were supposed to walk, because truly, He is love. This is why its so ridiculous when people say that the Old Testament is old, that it doesn’t apply to us and that the God of the Old Testament was mean and cruel. No, He was immensely kind and He proves that by walking the blood path we so rightly deserved.
 
Lord, I am in awe of you. You are so kind and gracious. You are full of love. May my heart sing and dance for joy because of your willing sacrifice for me. Truly, you are the greatest gift in all the world. Thank you for walking the blood path for me, in Jesus name Amen.

When God Asks You To Do Something That Makes You Look Foolish

Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?…(1 Corinthians 1:20)

Has God ever asked you to do something so radical that it honestly made you look like a little bit of a fool before others? Or maybe, you thought that it might make you look foolish? I know He’s done this many, many times for me and if I could be honest, sometimes my fear of other people’s opinion has caused me to be delayed in my obedience.
 
The deeper you go with Jesus, the more He’ll call you out with the potential of looking silly and foolish before others. But you see, this is where He power becomes unlocked in our lives.
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God is calling me to deep waters in this present season and If I could be quite honest, I’m being bombarded with the thoughts of what other people will think. Truly, this is a trap in my own mind to keep me from walking in the precious grace of God. It is so true that, “The fear of man lays a snare, but those who trust in the Lord are safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)
 
I’ll be honest, as I think about walking forward into these deep waters I’m not necessarily filled with great confidence. Mostly because I’m still a little bit scared, but I know that as I do, my Father will meet me with the grace that I need to stay faithful to what He has asked of me.
 
Don’t wait for all the fear to be gone before you start practicing obedience. It may never fully dissipate and may even remain with you as you step out onto the water, but know that as you do this, fear starts to die in you as your Father fills you with His love.
 
Lord, I trust you. Please be my greatest joy in the midst of these deep waters. What you’re asking me to do is scary, but I trust that you’re going to send the harvest. You are so good and I thank you for meeting me with your deep love, in Jesus name, Amen.

When Shining My Light For God Feels Too Vulnerable and Scary

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden”….(Matt 5:14).

Sometimes the light God wants us to shine for Him is scary. It’s scary because it exposes broken parts of our lives, that although they have been redeemed bring up moments and seasons we’d rather stay hidden. You see, the Lord is challenging me, right now, in this present moment to be the most vulnerable I have ever been in my life. To shine His light in my life on something I’d rather not talk about in such a public way. It feels safer to keep going on as is without needing to go there, but something inside of me is reminding me that beauty is found when we’re willing to go to hard places. Bridges are built between us and others when we share the deepest, darkest and most broken moments of our lives.
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I love to shine my light for Jesus when it feels easy and safe. It’s great when the champion of my story is me and I did things right, life was beautiful and everything went on without a hitch. The problem is that does very little to display the power of God. Instead, it makes the focal point me and my ability to be good.
 
The Lord is asking me to trust Him and let go, to go somewhere hard because it puts Him on display. You see, whenever we shine God’s light on the darkness of our past, it puts HIs glory on display as others see His work in our lives. It gives them hope because maybe they’re walking the same difficult journey.
 
There’s this other voice in me though that says, “this is dumb and pointless, no one is going to care, you’re wasting your time.” I know that’s the enemy. He always uses similar, discouraging tactics against me. But I know within that lie is actually God’s truth. You see, Satan will always whisper to us the opposite of what God is going to do to try to keep us from being courageous for God. So, instead, I’m believing that I’m not wasting my time and that my transparency will hold within it a great purpose.
 
I’m not sure what story you have that you’d rather not talk about, but understand that it can be your greatest treasure to share with others for the glory of God. Our broken moments are not supposed to stay hidden. They’re supposed to be set up on a hill. Then others can see the working of God in our lives and be drawn to the power of grace. It’s where they see the love of God that works for broken sinners in need for grace like you and me. Would you be willing to be that light for someone today?
 
Lord, I trust you. I won’t believe the lie that my story is pointless. I won’t entertain the thought that me stepping out to share something vulnerable is stupid. If it makes me a fool for Christ than so be it, but please use my story to point others to your love. Let it be so, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Why Pilate Wasn’t Off the Hook and Neither Are We

he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”…. (Matt 27:24).

Pilate was sorely mistaken as he stood before the mob of people who wished to crucify Jesus. Although he washed his hands of the matter, that certainly didn’t mean that Pilate was innocent in the murder of Jesus. You see, Pilate had the ability to keep it from happening. He had the power to do the right thing and he didn’t. This is cowardice at its worst. It’s an omission of responsibility as a human being to care for another person and do what’s right for them when they are being wrongfully oppressed and mistreated.
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There is deep oppression all among us and so many of us have the power to help, but instead, we do nothing. Why do you think Jesus was so adamant about caring for the oppressed? Why do you think most of his time was spent reaching out to the poor, forgotten, afflicted and forgotten? Because He sees into their humanity and their need for love.
 
When we start to see with the eyes of Jesus, we start to care more for people on the fringes of our society. People who have lost their voice due to oppression. Those who’ve suffered abuse, wrongful treatment and have been forced to do things no human being should ever have to do. These are the voices of men, women, and children who have been stolen to the sad reality of deep oppression in this world.
 
Therefore, we must not act like Pilate and wash our hands of the matter. Instead, we must do within our power whatever we can do to help. Helping someone begins with seeing them as a person. Sometimes we get our priorities out of order and we help people for our own personal benefit because we want to be seen as a good person, but the person who needs to be seen is not us. It’s the individual who feels too small and insignificant in this world to believe they could ever be loved. It’s the person whom society has left on the fringes and forgotten at the precipice of their own agenda.
 
Pilate couldn’t see past his fear of the crowd and quite honestly, sometimes we can’t either, so we forget people and please the crowd instead. But the crowd will swallow us up into the sea of its own selfishness as we become a pawn to play against the lost, hurting and lonely in their self-motivated agenda.
 
Ask the Lord to give you eyes and ears for the lost, hurting, lonely and abused. When He shows you them, do whatever you can in your power to help. You can give someone hope today and help them see that indeed, they are not forgotten.
 
Lord, sometimes I forget the lonely and hurting because I’m too focused on myself. Please forgive me for my lack of care for other people. Help me to not be like Pilate, but to do the right thing, whenever I have the power to do it, in Jesus name, Amen.