Quenching the Spirit – Part Two

Continued from last time…

When viewing the Spirit’s activity throughout the world, we begin to see that differences such as personalities, postal codes, states, countries, and levels of faith are not hindrances to what the Holy Spirit does and doesn’t do. There is no cookie-cutter doctrine when it comes to what He is capable of. It’s simply not our call. We do not control the Holy Spirit.

All around the world you will find stories and testimonies of people who have been healed, redeemed, and rescued thanks to the Spirit of God. And while many people might sit in the comfort of their homes and say, “That’s not true,” I would encourage them to step out into the world and open up their hearts’ guidance to the Spirit of God, and not what only their minds can fathom.

Acts 2:1-13 portrays a scene I find powerful and comedic, as the Spirit takes control of a group of believers on the day of Pentecost, leaving others in confusion. The day of Pentecost comes ten days after the ascension of Jesus into Heaven, about fifty days after Easter, and is referred to by many as the birthday of the Church. The biblical account in Acts 2 tells the story:

“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’”

Even in the early days of the Church, the power and activity of the Holy Spirit wasn’t truly understood. If people in biblical times thought those who were being used by the Spirit were drunk, I can’t imagine what kinds of things people are saying in this day and age.

Not everyone is going to understand what the Spirit does or doesn’t do in your life. Initiating your life as a Spirit-filled disciple starts by first admitting that you need the Spirit to live out the true life of a real believer. True freedom, confidence, and spiritual effectiveness simply can’t exist without Him.

A Christian without the Holy Spirit is like a cheese-burger without the cheese. It’s not what it claims to be.

Quenching the Spirit – Part One

I have noticed that many people get a little uncomfortable when you talk about the Holy Spirit, and part of me associates this with so many not truly investing in His power and guidance. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 NIV).

I don’t believe you can be a Christian while quenching the Spirit of God – while ignoring your conscience, while pretending as though God can’t actively speak to you. It’s like saying you want some ice without the part where it is made of water. And while many people embellish and focus solely on the works of the Spirit, I believe there is a whole different side that could be seen as not giving enough credit and validity to Him.

I can’t imagine my life without God the Father, Jesus the Son, AND the Holy Spirit. They all come in one package. You don’t get to pick and choose based on your preference. It’s all or nothing. Even though this may seem pretty obvious, many people very rarely discuss the Holy Spirit’s movement and activeness in their lives. It’s almost as if people don’t want to believe in something they can’t actually control. Instead we want to focus on subjects that are more comfortable to discuss. Many people would claim that this outlook is unbiblical as well. When we only discuss the works of man and ignore the unexplainable, we are telling God we don’t believe in the power of the Holy Spirit.

So which is it? Who is right? Do I allow the Holy Spirit to heal the sick and give sight to the blind? Or, do I view the Holy Spirit as the guiding light of Jesus, and see Him as one who doesn’t work the way He used to? 

Truthfully, I believe it’s both?

The idea that the Holy Spirit can only work in one unique way smothers any claim of Him being part of the all-powerful God, the Trinity. If the Spirit is truly the working hand of Jesus, the Spirit can do what He pleases in each and every individual and situation. Some may pray in tongues and some may keep their mouths shut. Some may worship through song and dance, while others may worship through quiet and tranquility. Some may teach verse by verse, while others may teach topically and thematically. The truth is that we are all different people who have been called by God to live different and unique lives.

The Holy Spirit can work in many different ways. Just because the Holy Spirit is working in your life differently than He is another’s doesn’t mean that the other individual is wrong or outside the will of God. We’re all unique, have different sets of fingerprints, and have different callings from God, so of course the Spirit is going to work differently in each of us.

R.A. Torrey in his book “The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit” said, “A true Christian life is a personally conducted life, conducted at every turn by a Divine Person. It is the believer’s privilege to be absolutely set free from all care and worry and anxiety as to the decisions which he must make at any turn of life. A true Christian life is not one governed by a long set of rules without us, but led by a living and ever-present Person within us.”

We can see that, in Torrey’s estimation, the Holy Spirit is actively conducting the lifestyle of each and every believer. The Holy Spirit is said to undertake the responsibility of guiding great decisions for us, relieving us of having to completely govern our own lives. I love Torrey’s words here because they ascribe to the Holy Spirit complete and utter control of our lives as Christians, rather than leaving them all up to the control of our feeble words and decisions. Sure, the power of the Holy Spirit can be encouraged through the words of our faith, but it is not us who have complete control – it’s Someone much bigger. 

More next time…

Preaching Without a Pulpit

The idea of preaching without a pulpit might seem a little crazy to some, evoking images of shouty people standing on street corners, waving Bibles at pedestrians. But the concept of pulpit-less preaching is not so narrow not so strange.

Jesus did not have a pulpit. He simply taught and shared with people who were hungry enough to take the time to listen. And, preaching without a pulpit is one of the callings God has placed on each of our lives. Not only are we called to share the gospel with the nations, but we are also called it do it in a fearless way: “Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold” (2 Corinthians 3:12).

A question to consider: If you were to ask yourself when the last time you shared Jesus with someone was, what would the answer be? The answer will tell you a lot about your relationship with Him. After all, He did say, “follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). So, if you are not fishing then you are truly not following Him who came to fish – to seek and save the lost (Luke 10:19). 

I work with young people in most places where I am honoured to minister. I love seeing teenagers who are fired up for Jesus sharing His story with people at malls, schools, and grocery stores. Many of today’s youth have more audacity and boldness than those who claim to be mature believers in Christ. 

The quietness of those who are older and more mature in the faith may be the result of “growing up,” and being told to chill out over the years and act more mature. But I believe this is something my generation needs to evaluate and change our view on. We need to go back to being radical. I believe, we can keep that radical way of living in our hearts. We can keep living an audacious life in the Name of Jesus. We are called to be radical. There is no other way to live the Christian life. So, those of us who were once wild stations for Jesus and were tamed and told to be still and be quiet need to regain the enthusiasm and boldness that we once had. Today’s youth are an example of how it should be – how we should be living our lives as believers and disciples of Jesus.

I see youth groups and young believers excited to use the people around them as personal mission fields. I would hope to see my generation and beyond once again passionate for the same thing.

So why do so many of us hold on to the idea that we need a church building, or some sort of official sanction or title to preach the Word of God? There are many events in the Bible where Jesus preaches to the masses. Not in a church building, temple, or religious organization, but in the open for all to hear. Jesus constantly used His surroundings as a platform to share truth and religious liberation. 

One of the most classic examples of this is described in the book of Matthew. The story goes, “One day as He saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around Him, and He began to teach them” (5:1-2). No pulpit, No ushers. No printed bulletins. Jesus saw the people, and dug in for the long haul. He must have looked around and seen the faces of hundreds of people who were hurting – who needed hope. And He reacted with a set of teachings we now call the Sermon on the Mount. It’s one of the most intense streams of wisdom in the Bible. All from a dusty and windy hillside in Judea. 

When you are at work. When you are at home in your neighbourhood and community. When you are out with friends. You don’t need a pulpit. We simple need to share boldly and with confidence what the Lord has done and is doing in our lives. As Paul the apostle wrote: “Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold” (2 Corinthians 3:12).

Religious People Suck!

I feel for religious people. They have all the rules to follow with no benefit gained from their obedience and faithfulness. The height of being religious is seen in the Pharisees. I mean, whenever they get brought up I immediately think, “Great. What arrogant nonsense are they sprouting now?” No Joke: most of these guys were the epitome of self-righteous religious imposters sucking life out of people who were truly hungry for God.

The Pharisees were known as the religious elite, the top dogs, and the high-and-mighty of faith. And although these nicknames sound incredibly awesome, the men who were behind them weren’t all too savvy when it came to actually knowing their heavenly Father, Pharisees were known to be righteous and zealous for keeping the law. But their observance and protection of the law was filled with arrogance and hypocrisy. They were prideful and stingy with grace. Judgment was easy for these guys, but refusing to show grace or give second chances was their demise.

In Matthew 23, you will find Jesus teaching to the crowds and to His disciples about the problems of hypocrisy. He claimed that although the words of the Pharisees may have been wise, their actions did not match what they preached. He continued by describing what most religious people, including religious Christians, face in today’s generation: ‘Everything they do is for show’ (Matthew 23:5).

Jesus was publicly calling out the Pharisees for being religious show-offs who were looking to gain nothing but personal acknowledgment for their actions. They were using their faith and knowledge of the Scriptures as a catalyst for personal popularity. They loved the idea of being extremely religious, but failed to convert that into passion for God Himself.

Not only did the actions of the Pharisees hurt their own opportunity for salvation, but their ways of living gave a false reflection of what it actually meant to be a follow of God. The constant judgment and religious entanglement they repeatedly subjected people to was theologically unjustifiable. 

Listen to what Jesus said about these religious people…

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you won’t let others enter either (Matthew 23:13).

The Pharisees spent so much time focusing on their outer appearance that they failed to allow the inner transformation to take place. You know, the one thing that actually mattered. It would be similar to someone who buys an old car from the junkyard, completely restores both the interior and exterior, and then doesn’t put any money into fixing the car’s engine. It may look spectacular, but it’s not going anywhere. Likewise, we seem to have convinced ourselves that if the outer image looks grand enough, then no one will bother asking about what’s actually under the hood.

When we find ourselves being complimented on the outer appearance long enough, it’s easy to forget about fixing what’s inside. As you can imagine, this is a hindrance to many people who are trying to find true transformation in Christ Himself.

Since the Pharisees found themselves in the spotlight of religious appreciation, it’s no surprise that their elegant speech and impressive knowledge of the law kept them comfortable and unwilling to push further in their spiritual journey.

Do you want to know how to live a great gospel-centered life? Just do the exact opposite of everything the Pharisees did. The Pharisees were more focused on impressing each other with spiritual knowledge than actually following the commandments of God, showing grace, or lending a selfless hand. We have to make an effort to walk that talk.

The Pharisees – Prayed in public for recognition

True followers of Christ – Pray in public because they are unashamed

The Pharisees – Read God’s Word for head knowledge 

True followers of Christ – Read God’s Word to deepen their relationship with God

The Pharisees – Judged people for the sake of judgment

True followers of Christ – Lovingly correct people because they care

So, as you can see – religious people suck! And, it is regretful how many people who called themselves believers – even Christians – are really nothing more than religious people who look good but are inwardly lifeless. Such a pointless existence … believing that things are good only to one day, discover that although they knew the Word of God they did not know God. And thus missed spending eternity with Him in heaven.

And you … what about you? Whee do you fit in to this picture?

The Word “Christian”

It’s sad to sit back back and watch the media cover nothing but the faults and failures of proclaimed “Christ-followers,” instead of getting down to the truth of what 98 percent of us do differently than the 2 percent who make us look bad. If the negativity that the media portrays is in fact the world’s view of what it means to be a Christian, please don’t call me one. I’d rather call myself a Christ-follower than be thrown into the twisted view of what we’ve made “Christians” out to be. I understand that Christian actually means Christ-follower, but you get where I am going with this I am sure.

The word ‘Christian’ has become too common over the years. Not for the sake of spreading the good news of Jesus, like we’d hoped for, but instead that of comfort and ease. People say “I’m a Christian” as easily as they would “I like hamburgers.”

For many reasons, the word Christian has stopped being associated with the word “love.” It’s stopped being associated with “grace.” This isn’t a matter of theology, doctrine, or philosophy, but instead of the actions people take – or don’t take – in the name of Christ. Jesus called us to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34). Simple. This means we are to relentlessly, passionately, and fervently love one another just as He has loved us, no matter the circumstances. But does this really happen?

The ideology of “hate the sin, not the sinner” has not converted well into today’s culture. If you take a moment to look around, you’ll notice that we are very good at showing hate to the people whom God has called us to love. Regardless of what the Bible says about cursing, drinking, drunkenness, homosexuality, sex, cheating, lying, or stealing, we are still called to ‘love one another.’ It’s that simple. No questions asked, regardless of how you interpret Scriptures.

Does this frustrate anyone the way it frustrates me? And before you say anything about seeking to keep your brother or sister accountable, please remember that you and I both sin as much as the next person. The goal isn’t to look away when someone is struggling, but instead to engage and embrace people in a way that reflects the loving comfort of Christ. A way that shows the love of Jesus. A way that turns from anything to do with hate, rejection, and judgmentalism. Period.

So, we are to love without limits. You know, I can’t ever recall a person who came to know Jesus because of hate. And, I am certain you cannot argue someone into the Kingdom, either. Jesus clearly stated that the non-believers and skeptics would come to know that we are His disciples by the way that we love one another and most certainly they way we treat others who are not believers and thus do not yet share fellowship with us and with our Heavenly Father. 

As I have been thinking about this in the last few days I realized that there are four things that God’s love won’t hold against you…

1> Your past

2> Your mistakes

3> Your confusion

4> Your addictions

Let’s look at those next time we are together…

There Are No Part-Time Disciples 

If you claim to be a Christian, then the questions of “the meaning of life” is already solved and answered for you! The purpose of your life is to share the Gospel of the Kingdom and the redemptive qualities of Christ (Matthew 28:19). You ARE in the ministry. 

Galatians 2:20 reads, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” There is a vital truth to what this verse states. It is no longer YOU who lives, but Christ who lives IN you. Meaning, it’s no longer about your agenda, your desires, and your needs. If you call yourself a Christian your agenda is now filled with an all-consuming calling from Christ Himself.

So, your current situation and workplace are your personal mission field. Why? Because you can reach people a church can’t. You’re on the front lines! You might even have a better opportunity to reach people than a missionary or church professional does. Don’t let anyone tell you that full-time ministry can only be found within the confines of a church building. God is bigger than four walls and a steeple. 

God has put the people around you in your life for a reason. Find out what that reason is, and make it your mission to empower their lives with Christ. Jesus will always supply you with the necessary tools and weapons needed to conquer anything that comes in your path. 

Work at a grocery store? Perfect. You have the opportunity to share and reflect the love and servanthood of Christ to dozen of customers a day. Work for a restaurant? Awesome! Use your time at work to share your testimony with your coworkers, or even share a reflection of Jesus’ kindness to each person who walks through your doors. If you really look, there are endless possibilities for anyone who is looking to be a full-time disciple of Jesus Christ.

Your job title doesn’t matter, but the way you use your time does. Stop letting people tell you that working for the government or for your company isn’t God’s plan for you. Stop allowing the opinions of man to keep you from being a light to your current workplace (Matthew 5:14). Just because you may not have a seminary degree and a position serving in a local congregation doesn’t mean you’re not in full-time ministry.

Jesus Himself wasn’t paid by a church. He was a carpenter who used His everyday knowledge of work and carpentry to relate to the people He was surrounded by. Yes, men like Paul and Peter dropped everything to follow the plans of Jesus, but don’t forget about the thousands of other people who stayed where they were in order to be a light where it was needed.

The New Testament couple Priscilla and Aquila are perfect examples of this. Acts 18:2-3 tells us:

“And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.”

We see that both Priscilla and Aquila were tent makers who helped Paul on his apostolic journey by allowing him to live and work with them in order to provide for himself. Their regular work flowed seamlessly into their ministry – a ministry that happened to help during one of the most critical points in Christian history. Tent makers, Yes! But, history makers as well!

So, step out and start vocalizing what God has put on your heart. If you’re not willing to do it where you are, what makes you think you would do it somewhere else?

This ideology of every Christian embracing a lifestyle of full-time ministry has the potential to transform the world from the inside out. It’s a possibility that could truly reach the far ends of the world for the sake of the Gospel. Imagine if everyday people, working everyday jobs, meeting everyday customers, all shared the extraordinary salvation given through Jesus Christ. The potential is limitless.

In order to embrace the fullness of what Jesus is calling us to, embrace the mission of using every moment available to share your faith in Christ. There are no limitations on where God can work.

So, know this: Jesus is not hiring part-time disciples. While this may discourage you in the beginning, I would encourage you to allow it to fuel your purpose in life. Stop, take a deep breath, and make today the day you start using every avenue available in every place, no matter how mundane, as a way to share the hope, grace, and salvation of Jesus Christ. Trust me, it’s worth every moment. 

So, You Don’t Fit! Then, Stand Out!!

There are many times that I feel like I just don’t fit. Like I am marching to the beat of a different drummer than every one else. Like my values, morals, and world perspective simply don’t jive with the people I live among. In other words, I am different. I simply don’t like what others like, watch what others watch, do what others do…

I have done a lot of thinking about this over the years. And, I have come to understand that realizing you don’t fit in is a good thing. You and I were not made to fit in. We were made to fulfill our calling in Christ. We were made to fit out not fit in. To stand out. You know, like a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14). To go against the grain. And to not only bring change to the community and relationships but to be the change for a world that lacks hope.

Since Jesus laid down His life for me, the least I can do is stand up and stand out for Him. The same is true for you if you are a true believer and disciple of Jesus. In today’s worth-seeking world, being liked and wanted is something we all yearn for. And regardless of whether it comes naturally, it’s how our culture forces us to feel – even by advertising popularity.

The world says:

Failure is not an option (I believe it originated with NASA)

If you are not first, you’re last (from a Sony picture 2006)

If you’re not somebody, you are nobody (popular saying)

But when we begin to look into the depth of Scripture, we’ll realize that none of those things are actually true. Literally, none of them.

Where NASA says, “Failure is not an option,” Scripture starts, “For everyone has sinned (failed); we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23)

Where Ricky Bobby in the movie, “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” says, If you are not first, you’re last,” Jesus says, “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last” (Matthew 20:16)

For everyone that tells you, “If you’re not somebody, you are nobody,” the Bible’s clear answer is: “God does not show favouritism” (Romans 2:11) Everyone is a somebody.

God has called us to go against the grain. To be the salt. To be the city on the hill. To be the light of the world.

Some of us walk, talk, read, and tweet like the most spiritual people ever to inhabit the earth. But behind the plastic mask we call “Christianity” is often merely personal modification rather than actual heart transformation. We seek more width than actual depth, and this show can only go on for so long.

Before you were born, you were called to be different. You were given potential for being a world changer. To walk so differently than the world that others will notice. And although being different might sometimes look lonely or unpopular, you must come to see that no matter the circumstances, God is still with you. Why on earth would we continue to cheat ourselves out of God’s love, and try to fill the void with worldly acceptance?

So, I’ve come to understand that my purpose on this earth isn’t to be loved and cherished by everyone around me. My purpose is to share the love of Jesus, show relentless grace, and always be willing to help my neighbour. Surprisingly enough, not everyone likes that. 

If you want to fully embrace the life that Jesus offers, be willing to ignore the opinions of man while you engage in the righteous pursuit of Christ. This will mean discussing touchy subjects. This means not ignoring the truth that most others seems to miss in the situation. It means purposely talk about the tough stuff in order to bring light to a situation that might be drowning in fear and darkness. It will mean swimming upstream while everyone else is floating downstream. However, remember that dead fish float downstream.

If we hide behind smooth words and shallow theology, we are indirectly telling God we are not bold enough to speak the truth. But, as I said earlier, “Since Jesus laid down His life for me, the least I can do is stand up and stand out for Him.”

So, a final question: Do you represent Jesus in a way that reflects timidity, or are you speaking the truth boldly and in love, unshaken by the opinions of others?

It is time to evaluate your life as a believer; your speech, your conduct, your lifestyle. There is no neutrality in the eyes of Jesus. You and I are required to pick a side, no exception. 

Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner! WRONG!!

“Hate the sin, not the sinner” isn’t working. Honestly, I am not sure it ever did work. When hating the sins of others, people just simply don’t know how to separate the sinner from the sin. Let me encourage you to instead “Love the sinner, not the sin.”

Remove the word “hate” from your vocabulary, and start reflecting an image of Jesus that portrays Him differently than a man standing on a soapbox wielding a megaphone. I can’t ever recall a person who came to faith because of hate. Let’s start a movement of people who are willing to take hate out of the equation and love people regardless of their sins.

When Jesus called us to love one another, it wasn’t limited by guidelines or parameters. The commandment was simple and to the point: “A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV).

There are no regulations on who and when to love. Love is not ours to control, monitor, and divvy up. Love was never intended to be kept to ourselves. It was meant to be shared with anyone and everyone willing to accept it.

The idea of loving without limits may seem a little intimidating, but that’s the raw beauty of it. Sometimes loving people might not make sense, but it still makes a difference. 

There is a man named Emmanuel, who was part of the Rwanda genocide in 1994. As part of the Hutu majority, he assisted in the killings of nearly a million people, and one of those people was the husband of a Tutsi woman. Emmanuel later came to find shame in his actions, and he then asked for the forgiveness of the man’s wife. Not only did she express that God had already forgiven him for his actions, but that she did as well.

What reckless love was shown through the actions of this woman. Where the rest of the world might give her an excuse to eternally hate this man, she instead harnessed the love of God and offered a place of forgiveness and grace.

If anyone should be leading the way for love and compassion, it should be the followers of Love Himself – Jesus. When we begin to view people through the eyes of Jesus, we are less likely to see their flaws and more likely to see their need for love. 

All throughout Scripture we see Jesus loving people whom others deemed foul, broken, dirty, and unworthy. For us that may mean the homeless drunk guy, the prostitute hanging out downtown, the person in jail, the drug addict – even the convicted sex offender. People may criticize you for giving your time and attention to people who are ostracized or considered permanently broken. They may say it’s not safe, that they’re not worth your time, and that these people gave up the right to be treated well when they made their bad decisions. They said that to Jesus too. But while self-proclaimed followers of God sat back and criticized the openness of Jesus’ love for people, He called them out for their lack of it:

“And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mark 2:14-16 ESV)

Take note that even the Pharisees and other religious leaders are confused as to why Jesus is extending love to those who are sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, and thieves. The love Jesus showed to these people was without boundaries or regulation. He was giving it all to people who might not even recognize Him as the Son of God. The beauty of this is that Jesus knew these people couldn’t offer Him anything in return, and yet He still embraced their friendship and presence.

Jesus’ response to the religious elite was nothing short of jaw-dropping: 

“And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17 ESV)

The sick, or the sinners, were the people who needed the most urgent shot of love. You probably have someone in mind right now who could be classified as one of “those who were sick.” Hey, it may even be you. But no matter the person or their beliefs, when you show them love, you show them the Spirit of Jesus Himself. 

A Fish Out Of Water

I have always felt a little like a fish out of water. I have never been interested in financial wealth. I have always been looking for my purpose in life. What it is I can do to fulfill a deep need that I felt in my life. I didn’t want to live to work. I wanted to work to live. Life was more important than the work I would be doing. The purpose for my life always outweighed the  provision I needed to live on. And, then one day I realized that if I could nail down what my inner passion was I would find my purpose. And, hopefully, there would be a way to earn or receive the provision needed.

So, I know, three “P’s” … Provision, Purpose, Passion.

Most of my generation – the Baby Boomers – focused on provision. Once they found a way, a job, a profession, which would earn them a good living they then began to take the time to look at purpose and passion. As a result, many of them became involved in social causes when they reached their early fifties. They went, as the literature states, from seeking success to looking for significance. As a result of this approach they believed it was their task to help there children get a great education so that they too could have adequate ‘provision.’ When their children grew up and had their provision secure then their parents believed that their central duty as parents was complete. 

This, of course, is part of the reason there is a generation gap. The parents want their child to find a way to make a good living. The child (Millennials and Gen Z) were looking for a place to express their passion and find their purpose in life. Then they would be concerned about ‘making a living.’ And, they would be willing to live on less if they could fulfill their passion and purpose. In other words, the parents want their children to make money and then consider making a difference. The children don’t want to make money unless they are making a difference.

So, why my comment that I felt like a fish out of water? Because I went to university to get a business degree and then graduate and make a lot of money. However, in my third year of a four year degree I began to be less concerned with making a living and more concerned with what purpose my life had on the planet. I began to wonder what I could do with my life that would make a difference. I didn’t want to just live my life, take up space, breath air, and then die. I felt like ‘a fish out of water’ because all of my classmates were happy earning the degree and then making a good living.

During the next four years I finished the degree and worked in the business world. During this time I had added God into the equation and the search. I didn’t know Him personally but I believed there was a God and that He was ‘sort of’ interested in my life. So, I spoke to Him a lot and never heard back from Him. Then one night I asked Him what the “purpose” of my life was. He responded that I was on the planet to make a difference for Him. I felt this passion rise up inside me – like it had finally broken through and been released. The passion had come to life.

As I looked back from that point on my brief life I realized that many of the things I had been involved in even as a child were geared to make a difference in the lives of others. I began to understand that my newly discovered passion had always been there – I just had not been looking for it. And that my passion had always led me to become involved in things, activities, groups that had purpose. 

So, I left my work in the business world (provision) and went seeking further education to enable my passion and purpose to come to fruition. Today, 50 years later, I earn less than I was earning before I left the business world. And, God has been faithful in the area of provision. As I pursued my passion and purpose in life – making a difference in the lives of others – He has been faithful in providing for every need. 

When I share this with the Millennials and Gen Z generations they understand. Because my approach which made me ‘a fish out of water’ in my own generation allows me to swim with the current younger generations. 

Today I work mainly with Gen Z and Millennials and so I understand them. They put passion and purpose before provision. But, unlike myself, they are not like a fish out of water in their own generation, because their whole generation is this way. I am thankful that in my generation God called me and released me to fulfill my passion and purpose even though I felt like a stranger in my own generation. I felt like a fish out of water. But, looking back I would not change anything. I am enjoying swimming with those I now relate to and minister with. 

Dare to Be Real – Don’t Settle for Fake! – Part Two

Do you know that you can fail and still be seen as righteous in the sight of God? Do you know that, as a believer, you can mess up big-time and still be welcome in the Church? Do you know that being a Christian is not about being morally perfect and constantly having al the right answers as you live a life that is properly put together without any cracks?

I have come to learn that understanding God’s grace depends on whether we have been conditioned to run and hide when we sin, like Adam and Eve did, or to run straight to the Father when we sin, like David did. We can either cover ourselves in shame or run to the Lord and say, “Search me, God, and know my heart” (Psalm 139:23). 

When David messed up bad, he wrote these words to God.

“Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your unfailing love;

according to your great compassion

blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity

and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is always before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight…”

(Psalm 51:1-4a NIV)

David understood, on the deepest level, that he could always come to God, no matter how deep or awful his sin. It’s crucial we get this, because we need God in order to please God. We’re like a child needing to borrow money from his dad so they can buy him a present. Our hearts can’t change for God unless they’re changed by God. It’s quite a paradox. The Man you are sinning against is the Man you’re asking for help so you won’t continue to sin against Him. 

And He’s patient with us. He’s so patient with us.

But Jesus goes even further to make this point clear in the Gospels. He says that if someone sins against us, we should forgive them not just seven times but seventy times seven. God does even better than. 

You know what the difference is between a righteous person and a sinner? One banks on forgiveness found in the cross, and the other doesn’t. Christians are not better than anyone else. We’re just forgiven. We didn’t achieve salvation. We received grace.

So, may I ask, why are we constantly putting on a mask and acting like we’re perfect. Or, at least, acting like we got things together; life is working for us. We’re good? It doesn’t help us, and it definitely won’t help the church reach those who do not know Jesus. People today need real, not fake.

Being something you’re not is exhausting. No one wins. You know the truth. God knows the truth. Your family probably also knows the truth. So, why not just bank on His grace? Rely on Him to be your strength in a time of weakness.

Here is what I have learned over the decades of ministering ….

Be confident in who you are, and comfortable with who you’re not. 

As believers, we’ve been freed from trying to keep up with the Joneses. It’s hard enough to keep up with Jesus. Why exhaust ourselves trying to serve two masters?