The American Missionary

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Dear Christians:
Your mission field is America. I realize that this may not be welcomed by some. Because it is much easier, tempting, and fulfilling, to catch a plane or bus to some foriegn land and teach destitute people about Jesus. Somehow, it is more convienient to book a mission trip to some 3rd world African nation and bring the Gospel to the hungry masses of people who have never heard the Gospel. It’s easier for us, and way more glamorous to say “Oh, I witnessed to 13,000 Swahili speaking unsaved people” than to say, “I witnessed to my boss at work.” It’s much more thrilling to spend $40 to donate a goat to a child’s family in Guatamala, than it is to buy a $10 Bible and $12 lunch, and give it to a struggling homeless person. Or even more difficult, spend some time getting to know that person. We modern day Christians have decided to take the easy road.

Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do foreign missions. After all, the Bible does say that we should preach the Gospel to EVERYONE, everywhere. But it’s a cop-out for some of us. For those of us who are not CALLED to do missions overseas (i.e., God has not assigned you to the foriegn mission field), it is very glittery and glamorous to do overseas missions. It’s cool to take a sabbatical from work and visit orphans in Honduras. It’s the “hipster Christian” thing to do to go to Israel and study abroad for a year. It’s the “sacrificial” and “noble” thing to sell everything you have and move to Etheopia to work with sick people who need Jesus. And that is a noble work. It is noble, necessary, and rightfully commended. But you have to be called for it.

You, as a modern American, who is a Christian, cannot decide to get into foriegn missions because it is easier. We as Christians are attracted to overseas missions because it is an “easy sell”. We know that all we’ve got to do is show up in some small villiage in Asia with clean water, some food, clothing, and tell them Jesus loves them, and BAM! We’ve got converts. As I said before, this kind of missionary work is necesarry, comendable, and wonderful. But not everyone of us is called to do that. Who will stay here? Who will do missionary work right here in America? No, we don’t want to do that. That isn’t fun. That doesn’t stamp our passports or give us cute stories to tell about orphans we’ve befriended and miracle healings we’ve seen take place in rural underground churches. That doesn’t get us featured in Voice of the Martyrs or profiled on the 700 Club.

We modern Christians want our conversions the way we want our food: fast. We want the glamerous, gritty, easy conversions that come from people who have never heard the Gospel or seen it in action. We don’t want to mess with the backsliders, the athiests, agnostics, LGBT, Wiccan or spiritual crowds. We don’t want to get our hands dirty spiritually; we’d rather get our hands dirty physically. It scares us to think about witnessing to those who know the bible. It scares to witness to the logical, scientific crowd. It frustrates us to witness to those who already say they’re Christians but their lives say otherwise. We’re afraid of rejection. We’re afraid that, perhaps we aren’t as strong in our faith as we think we are. We’re afraid to rock the boat. We’re afraid to be politically incorrect. We’re afraid to stand for holiness.

We’ll picket abortion clinics, sponsor a child for $0.50 a day, but we won’t invite our neighbors to church for fear of rejection. Because maybe we’ll discover that the America we complain about, is the result of our inactivity. Maybe we’ll discover that the immorality in America wasn’t caused by Bush 1 or 2. Or even Obama. Or Harry Reid. Or the Clintons. Or CNN. Or even by the LGBT groups. Or by SuperPacs. Or by the super-ultra rich. Maybe if we stay here and work in our own mission field, we’ll discover that the decline in America didn’t come from the sinners and nonbelievers – it came from believers doing nothing. Passive, wimpy, whiny, materialistic, uncaring, scared believers sitting back on church pews doing NOTHING.

Pastors and missionaries like Saeed Abindini, have been called to reach those overseas. Ministries like Gospel for Asia have been assigned to those regions by God. Does this mean that I can’t help because I’m American? No! Go where you are called. But know that you have a mission field HERE. If all of us Christians get bit by the foriegn missions bug and run overseas, who will preach the Gospel here? Who will show the love of Christ here? Who will reach the weak and the hurting here?

American Christian, don’t glamorize foreign missions and run away to an “easy sell”. Stay here. Witness here. Stand up here. Show Jesus here. It’s hard. The people in America now are desentitized to violence. They’re know-it-alls. They’re more concerned about science, paychecks, and social media than they are about their eternal souls. You will meet opposition. In that aspect, I guess American missions aren’t for every Christian. Your skin may not be tough enough. You will face those who challenge your faith deeper and more harshly than you ever thought imaginable. You will see seemingly-convincing arguments as to why your faith may not be grounded. You will meet violence and irrational behavior from those who claim to be Christians themselves. You will face opposition to everything you say from the media, culture, celebrities, and politics. You will be the voice of one crying in the wilderness, saying, “Jesus is coming! This is the right way! Don’t listen to the lies of society!” And everything that you are saying will be followed with a thousand other voices saying “Jesus was only a man! There is no right way! Don’t listen to the lies of religious windbags!” But you must continue to cry out anyway.

These are people who are choosing to not believe. These are people who are faithless. Those who have tried and failed to establish a connection with God on their own. They are hurt, numb, and stubborn. They’re not stranded in some remote villiage. They’ve got access to technology, research, churches and resources galore. And they’ve chosen not to believe, or perhaps never had the courage to faith. We get scared of that. We watch TV and say “what is this world coming to?” We see news stories and say “if they would just get saved this world would get better”. We watch politicians and say “we need to be one nation under God again”.

Modern American Christians are scared to fight the good fight. We want people to come to us, or we want to push them into salvation. We want to used-car-salesman talk people into Christ. We want to sit back, and wait for the church to be filled. We want to do one door-to-door witness a year and pat ourselves on the back. We think missionary work is an event based work! We think witnessing is something we have to set up an outreach or date and time for!

We’re afraid that we are outnumbered; we are doubtful, weak and timid. This is not our upbringing. Christ was fierce, educated, insightful, wise, well spoken, convincing, genuine, powerful, loving, and generous. We must be the same to persuade this country to see Jesus again.

I have learned, as a modern American Christian, that my job is not to argue. As tempting as it may be to argue with a non-believer, whip out my apologetics books, research everything I can on intelligent design, and try to present evidence for the existence of my Lord, that is not my job. My job is to BECOME evidence. My job is to represent Christ to everyone. Everywhere. All the time.

We’re intimidated and frustrated by other people who claim to be Christians, but don’t act like Christ. We’re afraid to be offensive. “They say they know the Lord so what else can I say..” Our biggest trump card is to invite them to OUR church and hope that OUR church can teach them the right way, because, obviously, according to what we can tell, they aren’t really Christian.
As tempting as it is to argue and fuss, even walk away from, those who claim to be Christians but are anything but, it is not my job to do so. It is my job to be an example, to demonstrate Christ correctly, and allow the Spirit to convict that person. It is not my job to brow-beat, criticize, condemn, hurt, maime, or scar another person emotionally or spiritually to get them to “act” Christian…like me.

NEWSFLASH: Their relationship with God isn’t supposed to look like yours anyway. It’s supposed to look like Christ.

Another note: being an American missionary doesn’t always mean preaching from a pulpit. It doesn’t mean you bouncing from church to church recruiting other Christians to come to your church. It doesn’t mean posting witty things and scriptures on facebook. It doesn’t mean saying “God bless you” when someone sneezes in the Walmart check out line. It doesn’t mean wearing Christian tshirts, hats, bracelets, temporary tattoos, bumperstickers, putting up billboards, or owning every copy of every bible translation ever written.

The American Mission Field is tumultous. It’s hard. It’s gritty. It requires fighting…spiritual warfare. It requires love. SO MUCH love. It requires patience. It doesn’t require money. It doesn’t require a passport. It doesn’t require print materials. It doesn’t require bible college or a tetnus shot. It doesn’t require elaborate churches with massive stage performances.

You want to know what it takes to win America for Christ? You really want to know what it would take for this nation to become one under God? You really want someone to stand up and put an end to the godlessness of America?

I can tell you in one very short sentence what it takes to win the mission field of America.

Every person who claims to be a Christian, acting like Christ, all the time.

If every person who claims to be a Christian in America begins to mold their lives to look like Christ, not just on Sundays, but every day, you would see people saved, you would see change, you would see peace, you would see deliverance. You would see full churches and empty rehab facilities. You would see demons flee, healings, faith increased, homosexual desires dissapear, poverty and hunger destroyed.

You never once saw the Apostles put on fancy shows. You didn’t see them making elaborate arguments (although they did debate, when necessary). You didn’t see them picketing bars and hollering slurs at homosexuals and arguing with each other over trivial doctrinal issues. What did you see them do? They united. They prayed. They fasted. They studied God’s word. They showed love to people. They taught. They lived what they spoke. They were genuine, real, loving, giving, honest, caring, and blunt. They had wisdom, they knew when to keep their mouths shut and when to speak. And you know what else? They were filled with the Holy Spirit and demonstrated his power daily.

You want to know how to turn America around? Get out there and act like Jesus.

the one

Defaming “The One”

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I’m pretty sure if you’ve been unintentionally single for any period of time, you’ve formulated a list of the qualities you expect from “The One”. You’ve charted and categorized, and if you’re like me, planned your whole life with “The One.” The only problem with this is, you have no clue who “The One” is.

I don’t know where the idea for this all-powerful, life-perfecting, knight-in-shining armor, gossamer curtain princess, fix-everything-fill-every-hole-in-my-life-give-me-meaning-and-purpose-and-joy concept came from (maybe Song of Solomon 3:4 was taken out of context?), but let me be clear: being in a relationship, even with “The One”, will not perfect your life. It will not instantly make everything easy and wonderful, and no, it will not make life a bowl full of cherries. You will not suddenly transport to 1945, wearing a polka-dotted dress, Alice-in-Wonderland style. You will not be instantaneously beamed into the passenger’s seat of his Packard and drive off into the sunset.

We place all of this value on a relationship, like it’s a cure all for the humdrum of single life. Three things I’ve heard this past week have sparked a renewed comfort in singleness for me, and shocked me back into the reality that a boyfriend will not fix my life. Those statements alone have sent me into a mental Cirque De Soleil routine, re-examining my entire desire for male companionship.

1. “For some of us, God gave the gift of singleness.”

First off, I have never heard of singleness being a gift. I always knew that there were certain benefits to being single, (more time with God, selfish ice cream binges on the couch Saturday afternoons, watching whatever you want on TV, going extended periods of time without shaving…) but I never thought of singleness as a gift. It was always a waiting room to this great life that I thought I needed a boyfriend, fiancé, or husband to start. And my great wonderful life that I had planned would NEVER start until I got that person…until I found “The One”. Read more about that below…

2. “Do you want a wedding, or do you want a marriage?”

This second comment hit me straight to my core, just like I got slapped in the face with the gorgeous Vera Wang bridal gown I had already picked out and bookmarked.. A marriage is an entirely different deal than a wedding. A wedding is a party. You can have a party without lifelong commitment, steadfastness, support, sacrifice, and trouble. But you can’t have a marriage without those things. A marriage is a God-run major LIFETIME commitment to another person, and to God. The purpose of marriage, other than to provide companionship (which God was so gracious to consider in his plan) is to mirror God’s relationship with the church.

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Ladies: Submit, trust, obey, reverence your husband.

Men: Wash your wife with the Word, follow Christ so she can be led by you, love her the same as yourself, cherish her, and nourish her.

Notice how God picked the hardest tasks in marriage; the ones that are completely opposite of each sex’s nature. A woman’s nature is to love and cherish, but God asks the man to do that. The man’s nature is to serve and work, and reverence, but the woman is asked to do that.

This is a huge task. Reflecting God’s love for his people in your every day life with your spouse, even when you really want to make him sleep on the couch because he accidently insulted your thighs and the children are screaming for a juice cup and you have a stack of dishes to the ceiling…

Protecting, serving, sacrificing, building your husband up in the Word of God and giving him the reassurance he needs to lead your family, allowing him to love you and cherish you without trying to rule over him, trusting in God and rejoicing in the simple victories of life, sharing your lives together freely without worry of rejection…That is marriage.

Where is the cute proposal and the perfect engagement pictures? Where is the excitement of picking out wedding bands and calling each other “Mrs.”/”Mr.”? Where are the perfectly organized centerpieces? The handwritten place cards? The cute chalkboard wall in the home-made photo booth? The 150+1 guests? The dance floor lit up till 2 AM and the laughter of friends and family? That was a wedding. The luster of that has faded. Now it’s marriage.

If you have any doubt you’re ready for such a huge commitment, I’d say throw yourself a party, cause you’re not ready for marriage. You’re ready for a wedding.

I don’t say this to scare you, because marriage is a beautiful and sacred thing, and its amazing…when you’re spiritually and emotionally prepared for it. We single people get so caught up in finding “The One”, the missing half, the completion to all things good and right in the world, the smile that will turn our frown upside down, the macaroni to our cheese, the sunshine for our rainy days — that we miss the point. It’s not about some perfect life that will start with the perfect person at the perfect time, it’s about being in love with Jesus at every stage, single or not. Putting him first above all else and abandoning everything in search of him. “The One” is mythical. But The One exists. His name is Jesus.

Singleness is a gift. It means that God has granted you a pre-determined allotted amount of time to share with him and only him, until he decides to send a person to share that time with you two. And who God allows to share his time with you is a sacred, holy, and all together beautiful decision he makes. HE makes. Not you. But he doesn’t bring this person into your life to steal away a portion of your time, but rather to enhance your time with him. The product of your marriage should be unity in worship. Not cute little Pinterest projects, not perfectly mannered children, not a perfect church attendance record, but a true, heartfelt, God centered life that is a perfume of praise to God daily. You’re not “waiting on the perfect man to cut in on your dance with God”. You’re holding out for the one man/woman God chooses to join the dance with him. The right “one” won’t cut in on your time with God, but will melt into your time with him and take the worship/praise/prayer/study higher. Then you will jointly, as one person, worship and fellowship with God.

3. “Because if you know who he is, you’ll give him your heart before he has earned it.”

Usually I have a conversation with God every other week that goes like this:

Me: God, I know you want me to be single right now for a reason. I’m cool with that. But I’m lonely. And impatient.

God: You can’t be married yet because you aren’t ready. I’m only protecting you.

Me: I know, I know, I’m totally not ready. But can you just tell me the guy’s name? Something about him? A detail so I’ll know him when I see him?

God: *crickets*

He’s never answered me before, until a few days ago.

Me: God, who is he?

God: I can’t tell you.

Me: Why?

God: Because if you know who he is, you’ll give him your heart before he has earned it.

Phew… God is so cool, guys. That answer blew my mind. I got to thinking on it and realized God was totally right. If God told me my husband’s name alone, I would begin a ravenous hunt for him including an in-depth facebook search & stalk session. I would totally try to develop relationships with men simply based on a name and my flawed human judgment. If he told me the guy is a plumber, I’d be creating leaks everywhere hoping to find the right one. If he told me the guy goes to my church…well you could imagine the chaos that would ensue.

If God told me who he is I would automatically trust that guy. I would automatically begin to view him as my husband and let him lead me. He may not even be ready to be a husband yet, but I would already let him have authority over me, I would lower my guard and probably try to begin a relationship with him — all prematurely. Knowing he’s my husband, I may even cross purity standards I’ve set for myself, and practically wash away all courtship rules and standards I had planned. I wouldn’t allow him to pursue me or capture my heart because I’d already have my mind made up he was mine, and I’m his. And guess what? Just like God said, he wouldn’t have any room to earn my heart. I would take all of the work (and pleasure) out of his part of the relationship. He wouldn’t have to prove himself to me. He wouldn’t have to earn my trust or demonstrate his leadership abilities. He wouldn’t have to honor my purity standards or build my confidence in him. He would already have my heart on a silver platter without doing anything to earn it.

You know what that tells me? God loves me. He cares about my heart and who it goes to. And he wants the guy, whoever he is, to earn it. Which also tells me God wants my future spouse to prove to him he’s worthy of my heart. And that tells me another thing — God thinks my heart is pretty special. It’s important enough to be earned.

And this guy – whoever he is – God expects him to work for it. To win me. To woo me. To earn my love. And you know what? It’s my job as a woman to ALLOW this guy to earn it. It’s my privilege as a woman to be pursued, not the pursuer. To be spoiled, pampered, adored, cherished, supported, to be loved. We often forget this as women. We see twinkle lights and broach bouquets and want the fairy tale now. But God wants you to expect to be pursued. Expect to be loved. Expect to be cherished. Expect the guy, whoever yours may be, to earn your love. Don’t just give it away. He’s got something to prove to you, God, and himself – and that’s a part of him developing self-confidence as a man. Don’t take that away from God. Don’t take that away from him. Don’t take it away from yourself.

To sum it up, “The One” is a product of fiction. It’s a fantasy we’ve created based on years of personal expectation, romantic disappointment and Hollywood-Disneyland-classic-romance-novel-Social-Media propaganda. There is a right person out there for you, God designed you two to be together, yes. God wants you two to be happy together, yes. God wants you guys to have a wonderful life, yes. But not at God’s expense. And not as the fulfillment of some impossible standard we’ve created. Disappointment is imminent as long as you hold your future spouse to an impossible, unachievable image (which is idolatry, btw). It’s no wonder divorce rates are so high, it’s also no wonder that 80% of divorces are filed by women. Could that be because we are so easily dissatisfied once we find out that marriage is not the princess-love-swirling-fairy-dust-Disney-movie we thought it would be? God did intent for love to be a story, but not a fantasy. He intended for it to be his story. The most beautiful story he could think of, written expressly for you! Don’t settle for the world’s version of romance. Don’t sit around waiting for “The One”.

Enjoy The One — Jesus Christ, your one true love, and allow him to choose who earns your heart. Then, sit back and prepare to be woo’d. :)

 

I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—  and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.  I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 (NIV)

daydreams

DEVOTIONAL: Dream, Dream, Dream

Devotionals

I daydream a lot. In fact, for a very rough patch of my life all I did was daydream. I would create online shopping carts filled with stuff I was gonna buy *someday* when I had the money. I would browse houses I would *someday* live in. I would pin stuff on Pinterest, activities to do with the kids I would have *someday*. Sweet little things I would do for my husband…you guessed it… *someday*. Don’t even get me started about the wedding plans. I’m not going to admit that I sent off for free samples of return address labels…using my sister’s boyfriend’s brother (whom I didn’t know) as the name for the “groom”.

Do you remember that old Britney Spears perfume commercial? Fantasy….Everybody has one.

I created an entire make-believe world in my head that I desperately wanted to live in. I spent hours imagining future conversations, future people, future places. And by comparison, the life I was actually living never stacked up. It wasn’t enough that I had shelter, food, a family, an enriching spiritual life…I had set a standard of what I wanted, what I thought I needed, all in my head. And until it materialized in front of me, I would never be happy. Can you relate?

I also had another problem. Bad thoughts. Now mind you, I’ve had this plague of terrible thoughts my whole life, basically. But at that point in my life, I was a devoted new Christian and feeling the ever increasing guilt of my sinful thoughts. And we’re not just talking a few judgmental thoughts here. Even my therapist told me “You’re at war with yourself.” To get a little bit Joyce Myer-y up in here, it was a battlefield of the mind.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says:

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

The word “imaginations” here means computation, reasoning, imagination, thought; to take inventory, estimate, despise, esteem, impute, lay, number, reason, reckon, suppose, think on. A broader definition of the root word included a word that shocked me – work.

Now, I’m not a biblical scholar or anything, but to me this was shocking. I expected the word “imaginations” to be like “fantasy”. But God surprised me with His Word. This automatically reminded me of the commercial for “I Don’t Know How She Does It”…the one in which the mother, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, lays down at night and formulates a list of everything she has to do the next day. We all can relate to that. So as clearly as I can visualize the meaning of “imaginations”, that’s it. The list we all create, the reasoning, the plotting, the planning. The toil of constantly analyzing our lives to see if it is what we thought it should be, and how to get there. The draining, meticulous criticism of ourselves. So perhaps daydreams aren’t really daydreams? Maybe they are our own self-depreciating “fix it!” button.

I didn’t get my education {daydream I’m a college professor} fixed!

My husband left me {daydream I exact revenge on him by getting a hot, younger boyfriend} fixed!

My grades suck {daydream I quit school because I’ve become a famous musician} fixed!

Daydreams are the product of stacking up your life to a list of unrealistic expectations. The Bible says to cast down imaginations! Stop chasing and overanalyzing everything, plotting and planning to achieve something you don’t even know is in God’s plan for you! It’s okay to have goals and dreams. It is perfectly wonderful to have ambition. But it is not okay to escape to some perfect world every time you whip out that list and find it is not finished.

I used to justify my heavy daydreaming by saying it was an act of faith. You know, “I’m dreaming about all this stuff in this ModCloth shopping cart because I have faith God will give it to me!” Wrongo!

Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. – James 2:17

Your dreams (let me clarify, BIG goals) are not going to accomplish themselves. Let me preach to the choir of myself, “Jeryn, you are not going to become the owner of a successful company by only posting four times a year. You aren’t going to run a successful non-profit from your couch.” You can believe all day until you are blue in the face, but God will rarely poof what you want into your lap. We must work at it. And isn’t that what real faith is? I’m confident that I have it before I see it, therefore I work like I already have it!

When I’m a dreamer, I have goals that match my faith, and I work at them. Even if my expectations are crazy to my friends, family, coworkers, I know that they are reachable because of Christ. An example of this would be Joseph, found in Genesis. God gave him huge ambitions and lofty goals to accomplish. Become ruler over your entire family…. who, me?? But Joseph knew that with God’s aid, he would fulfill all the plans God had created for his life. He also put his nose to the grindstone and accomplished every task sent his way. He became Pharaoh’s right hand man.

When I’m a daydreamer, I set high, sometimes unreasonable goals without checking with God to see if they line up with his plan for me. Then I pursue those dreams passively, never working, only fantasizing. Any work I do attempt to accomplish them is short lived. I procrastinate and use my dreams as an escape from life. I find daydreaming extremely enjoyable and often find myself wondering where the time went.

To further drive home the point about the difference between daydreaming and being a dreamer, here are some scriptures:

Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work. – Proverbs 21:25 (KJV)

Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense. – Proverbs 2:11 (NIV)

√ Imaginations. What’s next? Oh, right, “and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.”

Because there was no definition in the Greek for this use of “high”, I can only wing it. Cast down anything that promotes itself above God’s truth. If you’re thinking about your unattainable Pinterest wedding when you should be praying, cast it down. If you’re reflecting on your future Oscar-winning role alongside Brad Pitt when you should be studying the Word, cast it down. If you’re applying to a your choice college when you know God is leading you to go somewhere else, cast it down. If you’re using your own superior intellect to navigate a tough situation, cast it down. If you’re fantasizing about conversations you’re going to arrange with your crush when you know you’re unequally yoked, cast it down.

and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

We should measure every single thought against the standard of Christ. Good or bad, every thought must be arrested by Jesus. We have to train our minds to think how Christ thinks, what Christ thinks, when he thinks it. (See Romans 12:12) It’s not easy, and I’m still learning, but the benefits of letting go and relying upon pure, noble, and true thoughts (Phil. 4:8) far outweigh the loss you will feel when you give up your fantasy world.

Why are our thoughts so important, you ask?

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. – Proverbs 23:7 (KJV)

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. – Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

You become what you think. In Hebrew, and in the Bible accordingly, the word “heart” and “mind” are mostly interchangeable. The “heart” (not the blood-pumping organ) is the center of emotions, and it resides in the mind. It’s all jumbled in there with your thoughts.

If everything that I think becomes my life….if all of my thoughts become actions…then I become what I think…I become what I say. My life is shaped by what I think. Your life is shaped by what you think. Your entire reality, your day to day grind is put into motion by your own thoughts. Does that mean that if you think only good things, only good things will happen? No! Because you can’t control the actions of others. But it does mean that if you think only good things, you will handle the negative thrown at you with a sense of vigor, peace, and perseverance.

So how do I cast down these imaginations, ditch this fantasy world and get back to the beautiful reality God has planned for me?

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. - Matthew 18:18

Those words are written in red, and you know what that means….yep, straight from the mouth of Jesus. He has given us authority to bind (forbid by an indisputable authority, which is God), and to loose (permit by an indisputable authority, which is God).

Have you ever played “Red light, Green light”? This children’s game promotes one player as the authority, the guy in charge, and this guy/girl has the power to tell the kids “GO” and “STOP”, giving them instructions by shouting “RED LIGHT!” (stop) and “GREEN LIGHT” (go).

We have authority, given to us by Jesus himself, to permit (green light) or forbid (stop) anything. Yes, anything. Spirits? red light. Evil thoughts? red light. Harmful people? red light. Not evil-but-still-kinda-innapropriate thoughts? red light. We have the empowerment to command our circumstances. We have the power to pick what we think!

You have the ability to take your thoughts captive in the name of Jesus. When a thought pops up, weigh it against the life of Jesus Christ and if it doesn’t stack up to him, bind it in Jesus’ name. Cast it out in Jesus’ name. Arrest those thoughts, daydreams, lists, schemes, inappropriate fantasies. You don’t have to live with them.

I invite you to become a DREAMER, rather than a DAYDREAMER. I invite you to take all of your thoughts captive by the authority of Jesus. I dare you to compare your thoughts to Jesus and arrest them using HIS name. Watch your mind, heart, and life change. God has so much better in store for you!

Who needs daydreams when your REAL future is so so bright?

Love is Dead.

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Love is dead.

Everywhere I go and in everything I see – love is dead. When I walk down the street, I hear cursing and lies – I smell fear, unhapiness, despiration…death. When I go into a public place I see people, absent mindedly rushing to buy. To sell. Time dwindling as the clock spins faster and faster; pages of the calendar flipping swifter than a bird flying to it’s hungry squalling chicks.

The outlook is bleak, to be honest. What do you see when you look out your window? Do you see people helping one another, neighbors extending kindness and caring without condition of repayment or returned weed-eaters? I see selfishness. I see secret judgements passed in the comfort of a dark corner in the mind. I see covetness.

Life is beyond the car you can’t have and the house you want. Have you been to a store lately? Black Fiday sales, people literally killing one another to score a $10 blender. Is this what the human race has been reduced to? Surely the Creator had bigger plans when he created us.

We’re dust. But must we act like it all the time? Can we not scrounge up some compassion? Can’t we squeeze out a drop of humanity? All we can muster is a courteous handshake at the annual blockparty, followed immediately by a wetwipe. This is what society has become. America in particular, but the same principal applies to all nations. The Middle East is in termoil. Always has been. India, China, South America. People are in pain. People are hurting. People are in need. Where is love when you need it?

The 60′s marked the age of free love. Although it wasn’t exactly love. It was lust that became the springboard for a campaign of one sexual and moral escepade after another. It was lust that championed the revolt over war. It was lust that became the mountain which avalanched into mass back-room abortions, countless gatherings – excuses to get naked and burn flags (a thing the radicals refered to as “protests”), and collapsed onto a road which became known as “political correctness”.

A monumental disservice has been done to this country and every other. We have forgotten what love is. Is it packages of senseless expensive electronics and jewellry packaged in shiny paper? Is it a kiss on the cheek, subsequently wiped off? Is it a tipsy climb up the stairs to an apartment bedroom with a man you barely know?

Walking through a store, often times I catch myself say “I LOVE THAT!” in reference to a piece of furniture or clothing. Can I truly love a thing? Or do I just like it? Do I just admire it because I believe it will give me temporary satisfaction. That my eyes will be appeased and my hands will be busy for a moment; and for that moment, I will be happy.

Love does not come in a wide variety of color and style options. Love doesn’t have a price sticker on it, and will not become half price after Christmas. It doesn’t curse at you when you steal its taxi on a crowded street when it’s raining, and it most certainly doesn’t invite you into it’s apartment for “drinks” after one date.

Love isn’t a red dress with a slit so high you can see places your mother used to diaper. No, love is not a car with genuine leather seats and 5 cup-holders. Love isn’t a story in which man meets woman on a train and falls hopelessly head first over the course of 120 minutes. It doesn’t carry a brand name and you won’t be able to find a gift box big enough to contain it.

And, if that’s what you think love is, well, LOVE IS DEAD.

Love is beautiful. But you already knew that. It’s also ugly. And bloody. And ripped. Torn, disheveled. Broken. Dead.

It is a man on a cross with blood spewing out of wounds deeper than any dress slit. A man nailed to a cross you can’t fit onto a necklace or package in a gift box or hang on your wall. And actual cross. Sometimes we forget that. That it’s real.

Love is a man, who has the power to do everything, yet does nothing to save himself because he cares so deeply for you. No, love is not a word you say or something you demonstrate by racking up credit card bills.

Love is a body ripped to shreds and a crown of thorns. Love is a face so mangled it can no longer be recognized as human. Love is immense pain and torment suffered at the hands of mockers. Love is being spat on to defend the one you care most for. Love is leaving the 99 sheep to search for the one. Love is taking on the burden of the entire world because it can no longer hold it. Love is carrying a 300 pound cross up a mountain, only to die on it, while carrying millions of tons of sins on your back, when you’ve never done anything wrong in your short life. Love is doing what makes you uncomfortable for the sake of others. Love is paying a debt you can’t pay. Love wore a crown.

Love is a man. And love is dead.

 

 

“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

- Matthew 28:4

 

Love has vacated his tomb and placed an eviction notice on death. Love is dead no more, for the maker, holder, and manifestation of love is ALIVE.

 

LOVE IS ALIVE.

Why aren’t you?

Bread.

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“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” – Matthew 4:4
Bread is food. It is what we rely on to satisfy us when we’re hungry. When our stomachs are empty, we rely on food to fill us up. I wonder what other things we rely on to fill us up when we feel empty?
In a way, you could say “Man shall not live by video games alone” or “woman shall not live by man alone”, “man shall not live …by facebook alone”, “woman shall not live by text messages alone”. We use these things to fill ourselves up when our souls are hungry. But we’re never truly satisfied. The words that come from God’s mouth is the only thing that can sustain us. Which leads me to the question…
What is YOUR bread? The thing you’re trying to fill yourself up on instead of consuming God’s words…. the TV you turn to when your soul needs rest….the facebook feed you scroll through when you are bored and seeking an answer…the man or woman who’s arms or text messages you turn to when you feel lonely.
What is your bread? “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” – John 6:35

Doubt.

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The funny thing about doubt is, it’s sneaky. It begins as a question, and then like a termite in a lumber yard it becomes a ravenous posse, seemingly impossible to stop.

Suddenly, your simple, innocent question has become a full-on war in your head. This is especially evident in our relationships with God. A question as simple as “Why do you allow bad things to happen to good people?” becomes the doubt that God is real. Instead of asking why people do bad things, we question our Creator like a suspect in a crime drama.

doubt: uncertainty about the truth, fact, or existence of something

(dictionary.com)

Now, sin is extremely similar to doubt. In fact, some may say doubt is a sin. Sin is a disease – a sickness. Adam, the father of all us humans, was the first to become infected. And, through his lineage we all have this disease. Worse than plague, worse than polio, worse than leprosy even. Why? Because it infects you internally, the parts of you modern medicine cannot accurately fix. In reeks havoc on your mind, your heart, and your soul.  Because it’s not something easily noticeable. Its become normal and it’s a part of our lives.

Sin, in its simplest form, is falling short of perfection. There are millions of ways to be imperfect, but there is only one way to be perfect. And because of this brain-heart-soul eating disease, sin, we are incapable of doing it. We can’t. It’s impossible.

But wait!

Jesus, a man who was never infected  with this highly contagious disease, was able to achieve perfection. Why? Because he’s God in flesh pajamas. God knew pretty quickly after hanging out with us for a while that we could not achieve perfection and be like him because we’re sick. So he, in his beautiful mercy, decided he’d live perfectly for us, like a brilliant scientist in a laboratory creating an antidote. Then he gave us this cure, this antidote, this miracle cure-all serum he created, in the form of his blood as he lay dying on the Cross. Not only that, but while he was at it, he decided to carry all our emotional, physical, and mental baggage as he went through the death we all ultimately should have had. You see, like any other disease, sin eats away at you until you eventually concede and die.

A lot of people are overwhelmed by this information. I, myself, would sometimes rather believe that I did not cause the death of an innocent man. That my imperfection did not soil his perfection. But, like a super hero in a blockbuster action flick, if Jesus had not given his life as a cure to my disease, I would not be alive to write this. I guess some people cannot understand or fathom the love, the determination, the sheer God-given ability it would take for one man to do this for mankind. So they rule it out as a possibility. Other people may accept this information, but become confused about ‘discrepancies’ or ‘errors’ in the Bible, so they determine they can no longer believe what it says.

You know those scenes in treasure hunting movies, where the brilliant anthropologist has removed something ancient and valuable from a booby-trap, and must quickly replace it with something of the same weight or they’ll be crushed by a giant bolder?

That’s what happened on the cross.

Jesus Christ is the something of value. He’s taken on our sin and our grief and our everything yucky. He’s on the cross. We would like to remove his righteousness from that cross and run off into the Mayan Jungle with it and claim it as our own. But we must first replace what we take with something that is of great weight.

Our faith.

faith: confidence or trust in a person or thing

(dictionary.com)

We put our faith on that Cross, (actually, what He did for us on that cross), and we take his righteousness.

Your doubt is normal. Because we are deeply flawed and broken individuals, it is normal for us to question God. His ways, his Word, his Son…these are things we will never fully understand. But taking on Jesus’s righteousness, becoming free from that disease called sin, and walking into a new life of purpose and joy is going to take faith. You will never have it all figured out. You will never know everything. You, like a secret agent in clandestine government missions, will only be told what you need to know.

But don’t ever let that stifle you or cause you to doubt in God. He is real. He is alive. He cares for you. He has the antidote. You only have to believe that is true to receive it and change your life. You will have questions. You will wonder. You will not ever be perfect. That’s okay. If you have a question, if you have a doubt – ask God to give you the knowledge to understand. Ask him to give you the faith to believe, even when you don’t have all the answers.

You didn’t start believing in the first place for no reason. What was it that got you believing in the first place? Personally, I had been taught my whole life God was real. I just assumed it was true. At a church service one night (we usually only went on holidays) the presence of God became so tangible, so real, so undeniable, that I could not stay the same after experiencing it. And that’s when I knew for myself. Without anyone’s guidance or direction, I knew that He is real, and that I must be apart of Him and what he’s about. Forever. Nobody cajoled me, no one spoke to me…I don’t remember what the preacher said. I have no idea what songs they sang. It was simply God’s presence, all by itself.

Remember, it is so much easier to not believe. It is so much easier to give up. It is so easy to bow out and reject God’s love. Because we aren’t used to it, it’s foreign to us. But I promise, and I know from experience, even your worst day with Jesus will be better than your best day without Him. He is so worth it. Faith is so worth it. Heaven is so worth it. And you are worth it.

Scriptures to reference (you can click on them to read immediately):

Romans 5 / Romans 3:22-26 / Jude 1:22 / Matthew 14:31 / Hosea 10:2  / Matthew 19:25-26

Think about the famous prodigal son. He started wondering, ‘What am I doing here?’ “Why do I live like this?” he doubted that the life his father gave him was truly the right one. You may wonder if Jesus is truly God, or if God actually does exist. If you’re believing in vain. But the same doubtful child returned to his father, whose arms were wide open to receive him. In the end you may find yourself once again saying ‘What am I doing here?’ “Why do I live like this?” in your life of disbelief. You can always come home.

Jesus loves you and so do I.

What does it mean? [To Keep the Sabbath]

What does it mean?

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

It’s the fourth commandment, a super important one – one that most of us already-saved people don’t give much thought to. We think that by keeping the Sabbath holy, we’re supposed to go to church, and in going to church on Sunday we are keeping it holy.

But have you ever wondered how to really keep the Sabbath?

In Hebrew, the word Sabbath means “rest, interruption, cease, sit sill, loss of time.” We cease from working on the 7th day of the week because God stopped His work on the 7th day of the week.

I used to think that meant assembling together at church, then coming home, kicking back with the family and some fried chicken, watching TV, taking a nap and waking up to do it all over again next week.

There’s a lot more to it than that….

Isaiah 58:13-14 says:

If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

To keep the Sabbath holy, (holy: to consecrate and make separate and special) we’ve got to honor God with how we spend our time. It’s not just about getting a break from work (which is still really important) or spending time eating with family (also a good thing!). But rather it is about showing God we appreciate and love him by what we do on the Sabbath.

Ignoring our own pleasures, desires, wants, and “gimme-gimme’s”, puts our flesh (human flaw maker) on the back burner and allows God’s Spirit to be more effective within us, and externally. For example, I realllllly don’t like getting up early. My human nature would rather sleep in instead of getting up in the morning for church. But when I ignore that “five more minutes” voice in my head and go to church anyway to honor God and thank Him for His many blessings in my life, that is keeping the Sabbath holy. Or when, after church, I have to help my mom around the house. I’d rather be selfish, lock myself in my room and do what I want. Have ‘ME’ time. But I know God would be pleased with me if I did the right thing and helped out.

Our attitude is another huge part of keeping the Sabbath. The scripture says to “call the Sabbath a delight“. We’re not honoring God when we grumble and complain about the Sabbath, when we get aggravated because we’re behind on work and can’t finish because it’s a day of rest. Or when we want to hang out with friends instead of going to church. Or even when we’re complaining because it’s Sunday the day before – MONDAY. Dun dun dun.

We are called to “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4). When we act as if we’re doing God a favor just by showing up and singing a song, we’re not honoring the Sabbath and keeping it holy.

Watching what you say is more than just a matter of etiquette, it’s a matter of spiritual growth. If I sit around all Sunday long talking about myself, preaching sermons of my own invention, making fun of others, or faking my way through worship service – I’m not honoring God and I’m not going to grow in my relationship with him, or in my life’s success. Our words bring life and death (Proverbs 18:21), and we harvest the fruit that our words produce.

Spending God’s holy day, the day we are meant to share with him in fellowship and communication, on stupid earthly pleasures, selfishness and meaningless talk doesn’t just hurt you, it hurts God, too. He intended for the Sabbath to be a ‘date night’ for you and He to refresh you, revive you, and to gain a closer relationship with you.

When we put aside these distractions and spend the day doing what pleases God, we make room for ourselves to truly experience and enjoy God’s goodness. The scripture says God will then cause us to ride high and inherit the promises of Jacob!

Our human side (the flesh) is just a coat, a jacket or robe that we wear over our souls. We were never intended to live in them 24/7, rather than physically shed them like some crazy horror movie scene, we have to take breaks often so we can reach our full potential and become everything God destined us to be. God is a spirit, and he doesn’t have conversations with our flesh, only with our spirits, which he uses to reveal his mysteries, secrets, plans, and heart. With our focus on Jesus during the Sabbath, we are able to push the ‘PAUSE’ button on our human nature, and communicate with God on a deep, spiritual level without the daily distractions in our way.

Bottom line:

On the Sabbath we should a.) keep a positive attitude, b.) speak words of life and wisdom, c.) honor God with our actions – everything we do on this day should honor God…and that is how we keep the Sabbath holy.

Dear Christian women:  

Please stop acting like your only aspiration or function in life is to be brother so-and so’s wife. It is so sad to see appointed women and young women of God traipsing around church reciting Proverbs 31 and twirling their hair waiting on some hunky apostle Paul in a BMW. Young ladies of God especially, begging and pleading, day-dreaming, waiting, for a boy in pastoral school to pray with and have marriage Bible-studies with,
a man who will be worthy to ‘cut in on the dance with your heavenly father’.
NEWSFLASH:
There was only one man who was worthy enough to cut in on your dance with your heavenly father. His name was Jesus Christ.
  You were CREATED to be FIRST a daughter of God and a SERVANT of Christ.
You were not CREATED to be Mrs. So-and So or Pastor So-and So’s wife.
You were CREATED to be a beautiful and adored daughter of God and a warrior of prayer and praise in his army.
At the end of time when you stand before your Savior, you will not be judged based on who your husband was, how many things you made off of your Pinterest, how good your pecan pie was, how many crochet crosses you made in Children’s Church, or how well your children were homeschooled.
  The things that we as Christian women have idolized and made important will no longer matter. Our husbands will no longer be our husbands. Our children will no longer be our children. Our well highlighted collection of Bibles will be abandoned in our well-maintained houses. And we will be left standing before our creator, who will be saying ‘I tried to give you more of me, but you were holding on to that.’
  The most important thing in the universe, the most important and meaningful thing you will EVER do, is put Jesus Christ at the forefront and center of your affections, heart, and mind, and make him number one over your life. Husbands and children and grandchildren are great, biblical homemaking is great, but they are not to take the place of a deep, affectionate, intimate, life-changing, trail-blazing, life-saving, love-giving, endless, all-consuming, eternal, passionate relationship with your heavenly father and maker.
For your maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name – your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, he is called ‘the God of all the earth’. (Isaiah 54:5)
  God didn’t create you to be a wife. Or a mother. Those are benefits of his favor upon your life. He created you simply to love him and be loved by him. If you hold on to some perfect idolization of human marriage and miss out on your love story with him, you will be left with an unfulfilled soul and broken heart.
Don’t spend your short time on earth waiting for some man and a sugar-coated fantasy of Christian life.
Your prince has already come.
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DEVOTIONAL: Lazy.

Devotionals

I am a lazy person. No, I’m not self-deprecating, it’s actually true. I had always claimed to be a lazy, or ‘relaxed’ person. One might even say, lackadaisical. Slothful. Apathetic.

I don’t know if I’ve always been this way, or if it’s something that is new, but here lately I realized something even worse. Not only am I lazy by the world’s standards, but I am also lazy by God’s standards. We’re not just talking hanging out in bed during a rainy day. We’re talking un-Christ like habit, Which is far worse than being conventionally lazy.

His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:  Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.  Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.  And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

- Matthew 25:26-30

So you can see from the scripture above why this lazy attitude disturbs me. I don’t want to be a wick, lazy, slothful, arrogant servant. I want to serve Christ in a manner that pleases him and helps others. A way that provides me with a life full of blessings and purpose.

I think perhaps the reason the master in the parable was so mad (the reason God is angry with us when we are lazy) is because we’re wasting his time and resources. And in wasting that time and resource, we are actually stunting our own growth and causing ourselves unhappiness. I guess you could equate it to giving your child the gift of a new computer, only for them to slam it down on the ground right in front of you, and then complain to you they need a new one.

If we waste what God gives us (talent, time, energy, etc) why should he trust us with anything else? If we aren’t managing what he already has given us, then it’s useless for him to add anything else to us – or to even let us keep what we already have. And if we destroy what he’s given us, or don’t use it at all, we end up the crying child who’s all upset because they smashed their own computer and now have none.

the truth is, we were created to WORK.

“But work is haaaaaarrdddddddd…..”

Yes, this is a very difficult concept for me to accept. Because, ya know, I’d rather sit on the couch all day long in a house by myself with cable and a gallon of ice cream, no dogs to walk, no dishes to wash, no dinner to prepare. But God CREATED me with the ability and the responsibility to do those things. (Proverbs 20:12, seeing and hearing is a gift from God, which would also suggest that all of our other body parts working is a gift from him, too.)

“Lazy people sleep soundly, but idleness leaves them hungry.” – Proverbs 19:15

And on top of that, we’re never fully satisfied unless we are working. In order to be a well-rounded, happy individual you must put your mind (and hands) to something.

Laziness is defined in Hebrew as “Idleness, slack, slothfulness, and indolence). Indolence is a persistent state of comfort or luxury. I bet after working a long day you’d like some indolence. WRONG!

My pastor was preaching recently about the call of Abram. God called Abram to leave his house and family – what was familiar to him. Why? Because if you stay connected to what you are familiar with, you tend to take shortcuts around problems, rather than relying on God to take you through the process necessary to refine and purify you.

Do you think Abraham became the father of many nations by kicking back with a root beer and watching Monday night football? NO! He went through a trying, intimate, personal, and completely uncomfortable process. God had to become the only one he could lean on, in order for him to advance to the next level of his life and blessings. As my pastor likes to say, “God has to take you through a process to get to the next level, because if he were to give you your future blessings now, he would blow your mind and you wouldn’t be able to handle it!”

The possibility of giving up or running away is stronger for a lazy person. So often we (myself included) are eager to get the process over with and we will take short cuts, give less than 100%, slack and complain while we are climbing that mountain toward the goal. But God’s word says:

“Work hard and become a leader; Be lazy and become a slave.” – Proverbs 12:24

The consequences of being lazy are poverty, unhappiness, stagnation, no growth, strained relationships, and eventually, death. Because laziness is wickedness and wickedness leads to death, eventually that’s the path laziness (and all sin) leads toward.

How do I know if I’m Lazy?

1. You love sleep. I loveeeeee sleep. Too much. In fact, I’ve begun using it as a coping mechanism in my young adult life. If a problem is stressful, I sleep. If I’m happy, I sleep. If I have a stomach ache, I sleep. If my stomach feels wonderful, I sleep. If I’m angry, I sleep. If I’m bored, I sleep. If I’m working, I sleep. I’ve literally had days where I’ve gotten 10 hours of good uninterrupted sleep, then took a nap. I could sleep right now if I tried. Sleep is a good thing, but we should never spend more time sleeping than we do living. The time we spend napping could be spent doing so many more important things!

“As a door swings back and forth on its hinges, so the lazy person turns over in bed.” – Proverbs 26:14

“If you love sleep, you will end in poverty. Keep your eyes open, and there will be plenty to eat!” – Proverbs 20:13

“A wise youth harvests in the summer, but one who sleeps during harvest is a disgrace.” – Proverbs 10:5

“But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest — then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit, scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.” – Proverbs 6:9-11

How many times have you whispered “Five more minutes……”? We’ve got to be on our P’s and Q’s, if we’re going to work in God’s Kingdom. We can sleep when we’re dead!

2. You make excuses. This would be the modern day equivalent of “I can’t get a job without a car, but I can’t get a car without a job, so I guess I’m just stuck on the couch! …oh look! A Seinfeld marathon…”

    “The lazy person claims, ‘There’s a lion on the road! Yes, I’m sure there’s a lion out there!’” – Proverbs 26:13
    “The lazy person claims, ‘There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed!’” – Proverbs 22:13

3. You don’t value things as you should. You know those people, the ones who don’t care if their rooms are clean, throw their clothes around, squander their money on stupid things? Yup. That’s a symptom of laziness. Have you ever noticed how a lazy person NEVER seems to have any money of their own?

“A lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things.” – Proverbs 18:9

“Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich.” – Proverbs 10:4

4. You expect others to do your work.

“Lazy people take food in their hand, but don’t even lift it to their mouth.” – Proverbs 26:15

“Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find.” – Proverbs 12:27

5. You have dreams/desires but no drive.

“Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work.” – Proverbs 21:25

“A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.” – Proverbs 12:11

“Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.” – Proverbs 13:4

“Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty!” – Proverbs 14:23

“Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.” – Proverbs 6:6-8

6. You’re self-centered and seek material gratification. Laziness often goes hand in hand with arrogance and greed. Do you often find yourself lusting after indulgencies and pleasures? How often do you think about others above yourself? Is window shopping a blood sport for you? Are you more concerned with things than people?

“Those who love pleasure will become poor; those who love wine and luxury will never be rich.” – Proverbs 21:17

“Lazy people consider themselves smarter than seven wise counselors.” – Proverbs 25:16

7. You let others down. A huge reason to ditch laziness, is because you’re hurting those that depend on you. In the midst of my napping-potato-chip-eating luxe fest, I’m letting my responsibilities go and disappointing Jesus, and my family. A perfect example, in Mark chapter 14, Jesus asked the disciples to stay awake and watch his back while he prayed in the garden. They were tired, yes, but couldn’t they have just kept their eyes open for an hour?? To fulfill the wishes of Jesus Christ?? Seriously!! I do not want to have that fumble on my conscience…

“Lazy people irritate their employers, like vinegar to the teeth or smoke in the eyes.” – Proverbs 10:26

“Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?” – Mark 14:37

See, this laziness problem goes beyond Saturdays of iced tea on the porch. Laziness, revealed by God’s wisdom, is a far greater problem than I ever thought.

“A lazy person’s way is blocked with briers, but the path of the upright is an open highway.” – Proverbs 15:19

Bottom line is, God formulated a plan for us to have success long ago, work = equals profit and blessings, fulfillment, and laziness = poverty and unhappiness. Until you begin to work hard, apply yourself and your talents, you will never experience the fullness of what God created you to be, and the blessings that lie therein.

God despises laziness simply because it holds his people back from becoming all that we are destined to be. Because it stagnates us. It stops us from accomplishing what he created us to do. It’s sinful and just downright bad for us. Jesus came so we could live life abundantly, not from a recliner, not from a bed, not confined to a couch, but with happiness and purpose and a thirst for him. Do you ever feel like your life just NEVER works out? Have you considered that it’s because you aren’t putting the work into it? Into your relationships, your walk with Christ, your job…? If you give him 100% in everything you do, he will return that 100% back to you in every area of your life.

“Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3

DEVOTIONAL: Wise Guy Checklist

Devotionals

Our words have so much weight…they bring Life and Death (Proverbs 18:21), they affect people daily; physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. So we should watch what we say. We should make sure that the truth and love of God is in our words. Our actions, of course, are important too. Action has to back up words. Think about it, Jesus never said one thing that he didn’t prove via his actions.

Yes, everything we do and say affects the world and people around us. We need God’s wisdom to understand what to say, when to say it, what to do, and when to do it.

Now, I’m not exceptionally gifted in theology or anything, so I’m not going to write a big long thing about how to obtain wisdom or quote every scripture about wisdom (because there’s A LOT of them). What I want to talk about today is: Ideas.

i·de·a // noun

1. any conception existing in the mind as a result of mental understanding, awareness, or activity.
2. a thought, conception, or notion: That is an excellent idea.
3. an impression: He gave me a general idea of how he plans to run the department.
4. an opinion, view, or belief: His ideas on raising children are certainly strange.
5. a plan of action; an intention: the idea of becoming an engineer.

I have a million ideas. Some are brilliant. Some are hilarious. Some are sinful. Some, are not worth mentioning.

Maybe I should go talk to that person. Maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I should say this to a certain person. Maybe I should go to that school. Maybe I should give up on this business and do something else. Maybe I should join Christian Mingle……HA. Not.

Point is, a million and one ideas creep into my head every day. Usually it’s easy to tell which ones are bad and which ones are wise, but sometimes it’s really hard!

And you have ideas too. Between the wealth of knowledge stored in your head from TV, magazines, school, books, and internet, your life experiences, and the situations around you, you’ve got a thousands of ideas, decisions to make and goals to pursue.

So how do you know if an idea you had is from God, your sinful nature (flesh) or man?

How do you really know if the big life decisions you make are full of wisdom and truth, or just whims of your flesh?

Talking to a hurt loved one, taking a new job, quitting an old one, how to raise your children, which friends to have at school, what to say in a school speech. What to preach on Sunday morning, what to say to a friend who’s in trouble.

wis·dom/ˈwɪzdəm/ noun

1. the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.

Essentially, being wise is knowing the TRUE or RIGHT thing to do or say. As if you’ve got a direct line to God (which you do) and he’s instructing you in his special all-knowing-I’m-God kinda way, on what’s best for your life and the life of others.

I was surprised last night, reading James, because I struggle all the time with knowing whether the choices I make and the ideas I have for New Wine are WISE and from God or bad and from my own tricky little brain. So when I read this, I was like: YES! finally a sure-fire way to tell if an idea is from God, or me.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. – James 3:17 (KJV, emphasis added)

  • First of all, check to see if your idea is PURE. Complete, free from contamination, clean. Did someone mention something that began this idea? Did you change it because of something someone said? Do you have a sinful motive for this idea? Is it HOLY? meaning will it cross a line into doing or saying something un-Christlike? Is it SINCERE? Do you mean it? For example, if your idea is to tell your girlfriend you love her, well, first you’ve got to analyze if that statement is true. Do you love her in a proper and holy way? Do you feel obligated to tell her just because you’ve been dating for a while, or did you decide on your own with God’s help?  Or maybe you’ve had a fight with your best friend – your gut reaction is to insult her. But is that Christlike? is it PURE? and do you mean what you’re saying? No, you’re just mad. And revenge is definitely not HOLY. So you can toss away that idea because it’s not wise, and it’s not from God. A wise, pure idea has no ulterior motive, it isn’t sinful; it is holy, and it is sincere.
  • Second, make sure your idea PEACEABLE. Do you intend to stir up trouble? Do you know that by saying or doing this idea, you’ll create an environment of strife and separation? Part of the Greek translation for ‘Peaceable’ is a word which means ‘salutary’, and that means it’s something that BENEFITS someone else. Something that gives them good health, that helps them in some way. For example, if one of your friends walks out of the bathroom with toilet paper on their shoe, is it a wise idea to laugh at her and tell her in front of everyone she’s got something on her shoe? Or is it better to pull her back into the bathroom and help her remove it, so she’s not embarrassed? That’s the difference between a wise, peaceable idea, and a horrible mean one. A wise, peaceable idea will help the person, benefit them, without separation, division, or chaos (which is the opposite of peace). Like, it’s not wise to make fun of your mother’s cooking; all you’ll do is upset her and cause her to be mad at you – which is not peaceable at all. It doesn’t do anything to improve her cooking or make the situation better – so why do it?
  • Thirdly, is your idea GENTLE? The actual word for ‘gentle’ means “patient” or “appropriate”. Is your idea appropriate? Will it hurt someone? Will it step on your beliefs? Is it patient? meaning it isn’t rushed or hastily thought up and put together. A wise, gentle idea is one that isn’t spur-of-the-moment or un-Christlike. A gentle or wise idea is one that Christ would make. The Greek for ‘gentle’ is derived from another word which means “to be faint as a copy”, we should be “as faint as a copy” of Christ. We should mirror him in our decisions and actions. Jesus was extremely wise, and he was always two steps ahead of everyone else. He never made snap decisions, he always prayed and reflected first. Now, sometimes you’ll be in a situation where you have to act quickly, but you can still pray about it and listen to the Spirit of God that is inside you for guidance. You should think “How does this action or word affect me? the people around me? and what would Jesus think about it?” Like if your friends invite you for a hike but you’re supposed to be working that day. Your gut (actually, your flesh’s) automatic reaction is to call in sick and go with your buds. They’ll never miss you at work and you didn’t have anything important to do that day anyway. But is that a wise idea? No! It’s not thought out, it’s a lie, and it could potentially cause you to lose your job. Definitely not gentle at all.
  • 4th, for it to be wise, your idea, action, thought, or words must be EASY TO BE INTREATED. I’ve read tons of interpretations of this one, and basically this means that your idea should be able to yield to others. It should be considerate of others and willing to obey. Your idea should be able to take correction. It shouldn’t be stubborn or prideful. For example, if you have the idea to run off to California and become a pop star, and you tell your pastor, when he tells you how difficult that will be on your mind and faith, do you become jaded and rebellious? When you get the idea to go to college out-of-state and tell your parents, when they express concern about the cost and you being so far away, do you get mad and stomp off? Your idea shouldn’t be so big and bad in your mind that it can’t accept correction or criticism. Wisdom will listen to Godly counsel, it will listen to reason. ‘Intreated’ means “easily negotiable, with trust, confidence, to ‘make friends’, GOOD, convincing, believable.” With a wise idea, you will know when to retract and re-evaluate. Perhaps you should go to an out-of-state college, but wisdom knows it makes more sense to try an in state college for a few years first. Perhaps you are called to ‘make it big’ in music, but wisdom knows that it isn’t about you making it big, it’s about God making it big. If your idea causes you to be disobedient, prideful, arrogant or causes you to stomp on others or become rebellious toward God, it is definitely not wise.
  • 5th, A wise idea is FULL OF MERCY & GOOD FRUITS.  It’s gotta be tender, caring, full of love and Godliness. It might even be sacrificial. For instance, bringing a neighbor soup when they’re sick, even if it inconveniences you – that’s kind and compassionate, and it can only bring good fruit in return. It must produce GOOD spiritual FRUIT. If in any way your idea will produce strife, sadness, hatred, confusion or sin, it’s not wise. With every word or deed we sow seed. Some seed is for good, and some is for bad, and we reap the fruit according to our actions! For example, if you have the idea to talk to your friend about tutoring her in math, because you’ve seen her grades are slipping. If you’re kind and respectful about it, her grades go up + your friendship grows stronger = good fruit! But if you just tell her that her grades suck, you’re not producing anything good, and you’re not being kind. A merciful, good and wise idea will involve compassion, tenderness, love, good deeds and will only bring about GOOD things! So when you’re pondering an idea, ask yourself “Will this do good? Is this kind? Am I just doing this to benefit myself?”
  • And lastly, a wise idea is WITHOUT PARTIALITY & HYPOCRISY. This means that your idea isn’t partial to anyone or thing, that it has no division or judgment. Say, for instance, you get the idea to start a Bible group at school. But you’ve made up your mind you won’t let in a certain kid because you don’t approve of them for whatever reason. You’re favoring other kids over that one. You’re judging their eligibility based on your own opinions. You’re excluding that person. A wise idea should not exclude anyone, it should allow all those who would benefit from it. A wise idea also should be honest and sincere. You shouldn’t put up a façade or fake face. Maybe you get the idea to be someone’s friend who doesn’t have many friends. That’s a good idea – if you’re sincere. Don’t pretend to be that person’s friend, actually be there for them for real. Does your idea exclude or discriminate against someone else? Like inviting your best friend to church, but not the girl who sits next to you in class. Bringing your co-workers lunch, but not bringing your boss lunch. Just because it’s a good deed, doesn’t mean it’s wise. Do you have to keep secrets or be fake to accomplish this idea? Like, lying about your age to enter a contest. Paying a compliment to a teacher to get a good grade. Making friends with every outcast at school, except for the one kid who you’ve always been kind of creeped out by. Wisdom includes everyone, it doesn’t separate or divide. Wisdom welcomes everyone and doesn’t keep secrets. It doesn’t have to put on a fake face to get the job done.

I know this has been super long, and I thank you for reading! If you’d like a smaller, condensed checklist to carry in your bag or wallet, I’ve got one here you can download and print. That way you’ll be able to reference it and know if your idea is wise or not, all the time! :)

https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=11496CD7ED2EC7E2!192&authkey=!AFCp7R7HT_5vYWo

This checklist is the size of two Post-It notes side-by-side, so it should fit nicely as a bookmark, in your purse, or in most wallets.