If You Had Seen What I Have Seen….


I am going to make a radical statement, and excuse me for yelling. However, I believe this is of key importance:

EVERYBODY’S LIFE EXPERIENCE SEEMS TO VALIDATE THEIR RELIGION, NO MATTER HOW FAR OFF THEY ARE.

Therefore, the weakest argument (the least Christian argument) a believer can use is, “If you had seen what I have seen…”, or, “If you knew what I know…”.

This makes life-experience and past testimony our weakest form of witnessing. Yet I hear it used so much to justify this belief or that practice.

First, there are too many liars out there. The same people who put false reports on Facebook or in Emails are living, breathing, talking deceivers among us. Stories are twisted, embellished, and fabricated to validate a perception, belief or preference. Too much so as to be influenced by them, anyway. The Bible calls them false teachers. It is too difficult to judge who is completely honest and who is partially honest.

Second, Satan, the Father of lies, has the job of interpreting our life experience into untrue beliefs. He can stack the evidence. Paul talked about the “scheming of the Devil” in Ephesians 6:11.

Third, we are not above deceiving ourselves. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” If you look through a red lens everything will be a shade of red. If you look through a blue lens, everything will be a shade of blue.

So what is our greatest witness? A CHANGING life.

“…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Anyone can choose to disbelieve anything you say happened in your life, no matter of how certain you are of it. However, no one can deny what Christ is doing in your life right now, right before their eyes, as Jesus remolds you into His image.

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Christ’s Vulnerability For the Collision


When someone anticipates a collision, he prepares himself. We have air bags in our cars and seatbelts in light of the simple risk of an accident.

Athletes wear protective gear in order to take the impact of their sports. Motocross bikers wear rugged suits with pads on the knees and elbows. Helmets are worn to protect the head.

Football and hockey players dress in something just short of full-body armor because their sports require them to crash into one another at full speed.

Yet Christ, when He prepared to collide with our sins and sinful condition, stripped away all His divine powers and protection. He clothed Himself instead with mortal flesh and the collision killed Him, leaving him shredded and bled-out.

In our minds, we reason that God could have confronted our sinfulness completely fortified with divine power, undamageable strength, and unmoveable stability. But in love, He forfeited all His protection and became vulnerable, weak and helpless.

No wonder we cannot grasp the depth, width, and height of His love for us!

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8.

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The Christmas Collision.


When the shepherds met the Messiah child, they “returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.” Luke 2:20.

When Simeon the prophet found the Christ when Jesus was being presented as a child in the temple, he “blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’” Luke 2:34-35.

When Anna had found the Christ in the Temple on that day, she “began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” Luke 2:38.

And when the wise men arrived from Jerusalem after traveling from the East, they “fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11.

Before Jesus did any redemption work, those who met Him broke into spontaneous worship. As we approach this Christmas season, we consider the coming of Him who the prophets called, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6.

Even the Angel, in announcing the coming King said, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:33.

Approach this season with reverence, worship and adoration for the God who collided with the fallenness of mankind, and brought us hope. Merry Christmas.

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Lead Me Not Into Temptation…What?


Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

God does not lead anyone into temptation, as we would understand this to mean.

James 1:13-15 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

The Greek words mean, “Don’t lead us into trouble”. In a sense, we are asking God to protect us from trouble, especially unnecessary trouble.

However, God will lead us into testing, as mentioned in Matthew 4:1 and James 1:2-3:

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

God will not lead you where His grace cannot sustain you. But many of our temptations come from following God’s leadership.

Many of our temptations come from our lack of awareness of God’s presence in our life. As I taught this as a youth pastor, I noticed that people had pretty much dropped the request for God to not lead us into temptation but to deliver us from evil. I added to my prayers, hoping that God would honor it. Here is what I observed.

When I live with the recognition of Christ in my life, I am tempted way less than I am otherwise. When I live moment by moment in disregard of Christ in my life, I am inundated with temptation.

I believe the key word in this phrase is “LEAD”. When I follow God’s leading, moment by moment, temptations are weak and powerless against me. When I am focused on communing with Him throughout the day, opportunities to serve Him pop up and opportunities to stray diminish.

This followship of His leading in my life, is the key to this verse for me. You cannot pray for God to not lead you into temptation and deliver you for evil, and then get up and ignore Him the rest of the day, expecting Him to honor that prayer. That prayer must be for Him to lead us every step of the way and for us to consciously follow His leading.

We should pray, “Lord, lead, and help me follow. I stay out of trouble that way and find only opportunities for victory in my testings.”

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The Solution to Mass Shootings


Many solutions to public shootings are being suggested in the media and social networks. Based upon the variety of suggestions and the passion behind them, the problem is complicated.

Actually, the problem is very complicated but the solution is quite simple.

It’s complicated from a causative viewpoint. What would possess one to shoot young children and/or strangers? What a twisted concept of life Adam Lanza must have had!

It’s complicated from a preventive view point, considering how to locate and treat those who suffer from mental illness and twisted viewpoints by making mental health more available before tragedy strikes.

And it’s complicated from a limitation viewpoint, suggesting that our teachers be trained to carry guns into the schools, or having armed guards at every school, or even restrict citizen from having access to weapons just in case they go crazy.

However, there is a simple solution. God has invited Christians to take proactive, positive and effective action to protect our country, children and schools.

The simple fact of it is this: If God’s people do not humble themselves, and pray, and seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways, the next public shooting will be on us. We will be very responsible for it.

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14.

“The effective, fervent prayer of righteous people avails much.” James 5:16.

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“I don’t like that guy…”


“I just don’t like that guy. I have my reasons.”

“The poor is disliked even by his neighbor, but the rich has many friends. Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.” Proverbs 14:20-21 (ESV).

This follows the same theme as in James 2. There, he speaks of one coming into a congregation dressed to the nines. He is welcomed and honored, whereas the one who is dressed poorly is pushed to the back. Verse 9 summarized the sin of partiality based on world standards. “But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”

God’s way, and Christianity’s call, almost always goes in the opposite way of public current. Even in the prosperous, Church-laden land of the Bible Belt.

A true Christian is to show no partiality based upon the likes and dislikes of the world. With so much Christianity poured into our cultural norm, we find that too much of the cultural attitudes have been mixed into the Church crowd.

Money, of course, is just used as one example in the Bible as to “partiality thinking”, as illustrated by the wise father of Proverbs. James points out that there is also status due to expensive clothing. But are there not many more? Perceived value to the group, for example? A good sense of humor? Behavior that is more socially acceptable, or attitudes that do or don’t irritate us? Even personality types? All of them as obstacles of our acceptance are forbidden among God’s people .

If we can say, “I don’t like that person because…,” the “because” is probably dilution of our purity. If we Christianize it by saying, “This is what challenges me to love this one,” there is still a “because” there, and therefore a shortage of grace.

Those people who challenge our grace are really our greatest opportunities to display the difference Christ makes in our lives. They are our best opportunities to show the difference between the world culture and the Kingdom culture.

We are called to set aside our anger, impatience, wounds, pet peeves, memories and preferences to actually “die to self” to be obedient to our Shepherd, the same way our Shepherd did on the day of His crucifixion. What a refreshing place Church would be if we all could set aside all the “becauses” and embrace all who join us.

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Higher or Lower? His Name


“Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.”  Psalms 148:13.

What is exalted above the name of God? Psalms 148:13 tells us that nothing is exalted above the name of God. We sing, “His name is exalted far above the earth. His name is higher than the heavens.”

There are many verses that speak of the highness of God’s name. Isaiah 42:8 states that God will not allow anyone to distract from His glory or His name. “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”

In the King James Version, Psalms 138:2 may be confusing. “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.”

Is God’s Word higher than His name and thus His name lower than His Word? I don’t think so.

Many commentaries have dodged this issue when this verse, as presented, does not agree with any other passage. I prefer the ESV rendering which holds true to the Hebrew wording. “I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.”

Such rendering shows us that nothing is higher than the Name of God or the Word of God. One’s name represents one’s worth and reputation. God’s Word is the declaration of His worth and reputation. His name is the representation of His worth and reputation. Neither is higher nor lower, for they are the same.

This is the same glory, worth and reputation that belongs to the Son, Jesus Christ.

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Philippians 2:9-11.

Jesus is God. He is the Son in the Trinity that is unimpeachable in name and word. So high and holy is the Trinity that the highest existences in the universe and eternity are the Word and Name of our God.

No more beautifully is this seen than when the Father sent out the announcement for His coming Son, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 .

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