People Make Mistakes

Disappointment

People, even the “best” people, make mistakes.

I’ve stopped being surprised when I find out the person I thought had it all together doesn’t.

When “the good girl” gets pregnant…it doesn’t catch me off guard as much anymore.

When I hear about the person in ministry, who falls into repetitive sin, I’m saddened, heartbroken, but not as perplexed as I used to be.

When the “mom” is the guilty one…it stings…I may even be angry for a while…but not overly surprised.

Sin is all around us.

It’s a messed up world we live in these days…and these days have always been. Since the fall of man.

The truth is that good people make bad decisions.

We shouldn’t be too surprised when people behave like…well…people.

That’s not an excuse. I’m not letting people “off the hook”.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to make better decisions.

We should. We really, really should.

We should be holy, because God is holy. (1 Peter 1:16)

We should have the mind of Christ. (Philippians 2:5)

I’m not saying there aren’t consequences for our actions.

There are. (Galatians 6:7)

But, I am saying…really remembering…that the only “good” in me (and others) is Christ.

All we like sheep have gone (and go) astray…apart from God’s grace.

The heart is deceitful above all things. (Jeremiah 17:9)

Sanctification is a process. (Philippians 2:13)

We need Jesus. We need Him desperately.

People make mistakes.

Even the “best” of people. Even believers.

Even you.

Even me. Especially me.

Are you surprised?

Jesus: “I Thirst” … Reconsidered

Salvation

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” John 19:28 NKJV

Years ago, I became so dehydrated on a mission trip that I had to be hospitalized. I understand the phrase, “I thirst.”

Obviously, Jesus suffered far more than I ever did. Multiplied by thousands. I can’t imagine how dehydrated and thirsty He must have been.

I wonder, however, if there was an even greater suffering Jesus was experiencing.

Think back to another occasion in the life of Jesus that involved water. When Jesus approached the Samaritan woman, He told her He had water she knew nothing about. Jesus called this water “Living Water”. Jesus revealed later that indeed He is this Living Water. Jesus said that anyone who drinks of this water, would never be thirsty again.

I wonder if Jesus’ cry on the cross was more than the result of the obvious physical state of dehydration. Perhaps Jesus cry had a deeper meaning.

Could Jesus have been crying out for some of that Living Water?

As we know, Jesus was about to be separated from His Father. Never before had God turned His back on His only Son, but that was exactly what He did at Jesus’ crucifixion. “He who had no sin, became sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5:21) Jesus became sin, and God can have nothing to do with sin, so God had to reject His only Son, because of your sin and mine. God the Father had to abandon God the Son. (Matthew 27:46) Jesus had to face the burden of all the sin of the world completely alone. (Praise God you and I don’t have to face our burdens alone!)

Was Jesus experiencing the reality of this separation when He cried “I Thirst!”?

I’m just asking for consideration. Maybe reconsideration. I know for me, the thought of being separated from God, even for a moment, seems unbearable. I need thee every hour. I am desperate without my God.

When you think of Jesus suffering on the Cross, remember it wasn’t just a physical pain. Jesus suffered emotionally and spiritually as well. As many know, this kind of suffering is many times the worst kind of suffering. Jesus, who knew well the joy of experiencing the glory of God, was about to give up His stake in that glory. It was surely a most horrible experience.

Jesus, you must have endured more than I ever imagined on the Cross.

Thank you for your willingness to suffer separation from your Father on my behalf.

Are You a Christian Struggling with Guilt?

girl past

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” John 3:17 NLT

Are you a believer, but you can’t seem to shake the feeling of guilt? You know God saved you, but you still feel so much guilt from your past?

I need to assure you today that, in my understanding of Scripture, guilt does not come from God. The devil often uses guilt to keep us from doing the will of God and growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Guilt has to do with condemnation. You feel the “weight” or “sentence” of your sin. But, didn’t Christ die for that condemnation?

The next verse after John 3:16, the famous and familiar verse, reminds us that God sent Jesus to save, not to condemn it. Romans 8:1 says there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

The very definition of guilt has to do with remorse for having done something wrong. Furthermore, guilt is being responsible for an offense. A Christian’s sins have been paid for on the Cross. One of the very definitions of guilt is “guilty conduct; sin”.

The sin debt of any believer is heavy, but every bad offense we have ever committed has been covered over by the grace of Jesus Christ. We still sin, but Jesus doesn’t get back on the Cross. His death was sufficient for all our sins. There is “no condemnation” for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Please don’t misunderstand, you may feel sorry for your sins and ask God for forgiveness. That’s what we call repentance, but God’s motivating factor in obedience is love, not guilt. God guides His children to obey Him with a loving hand. Sometimes God’s love for us involves discipline. Many times we suffer the consequences of our sins. God will lead us to follow Him exclusively, but He will do it with love, not with guilt.

Jesus didn’t come to earth to bring condemnation. He came to bring salvation to all who would believe in Him.

Thank God today that there is no guilt for the person who knows, loves and believes in Jesus Christ as Savior.

10 Things I’ve Learned About Church Drama

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I love the local church. I really do. I believe it is God’s design and His plan to reach the world with the Gospel…with life and hope.

But, I hate church drama.

I really do. I hate destructive drama in any setting, but especially in the church. It shouldn’t exist. It especially shouldn’t exist in the church. We have to violate a lot of principles of God’s plan for the church and for believers for it to exist at all, but, even still, it does.

Drama. Gossip. Back-stabbing. Politics. Jockeying for power. Rumors. It’s destructive and has no part in the local church. I’ve seen lots of it. And, along the way I’ve learned a few things.

Here are 10 things I’ve learned about church drama:

Not all rumors are true. Most aren’t.

People like to expand on what they know. Or think they know.

There are consequences to sin. Even though there is grace. Some confuse that.

Some people enjoy telling others “the good stuff”. With practice, some have even learned to make things bigger and “better” than they really are.

Gossip destroys.

There is usually more to the story than what you know. But it may or may not be what your mind stretches it to be.

Many people never consider the ramifications of what they are saying.

Some of the juiciest gossip is disguised as a prayer request.

Thumper’s mom was right.

The only reliable source is the direct source.

For those who have given up on church because of the drama…Please reconsider. I still believe in the local church. I think we need people who like me…hate the drama of church and just want to live out the Gospel. Don’t let the drama keep you away. Come be a part of ending it.

You may want to read my post 7 Ways to Stop Gossip and 5 Suggestions When Your Life is a Drama. Or, even better, read the Book of James…New Testament. Or maybe Ephesians. (Specifically note 4:29).

What have you learned about church drama?

Craveable: The Irresistible Jesus in Me

Artie Davis is a great friend. I honestly can say I love the guy. He’s the “real deal”. It’s hard to find a true friend as a pastor. Artie’s that kind of friend…to many pastors. Artie’s book, Craveable: The Irresistible Jesus in Me, releases this week. I’ve been a fan of this concept since I first heard about it. I can’t wait for you to read the book.

Here’s an interview with Artie about the book:

QUESTION: Tell us a little about yourself, Artie.

ANSWER: Well, I’m a guy from Orangeburg SC. I planted a church here about 20 years ago. It’s a very diverse and often racially divided town. I saw that and had a heart to change it. God’s been good to us. We have 4 campuses that are extremely diverse and multi-ethnic. A Sunday morning at our church is a lot like heaven. All backgrounds are there worshipping together.

About 4 years ago, I became the director of TheSticks.tv. Since Orangeburg isn’t a large city, my heart is for small town pastors. The Sticks is about encouraging those leaders to lead big even though their in small towns.

All of that is kinda where Craveable came from. We have a problem in Christianity… other people outside of it want no part of it. We’ve got to fix that. Being crave able is something that extends past culture, context, race, size, or background. Jesus was the most crave able person ever to those outside of the kingdom. We have to be the same way. We’ve really dropped the ball.

QUESTION: I’ve heard to craving food, but what does that have to do with Jesus and the church? What is Craveable about?

ANSWER: Craveable is about living in such a way that people want what you want. If you google “why are christians so…” in your search bar, you get a variety of answers. None of them are positive. I don’t see that when I read the Gospels. People wanted to be around Jesus. People would walk for days. People would break rules and bust through roofs to get to him. We’ve lost that. People need to crave what we have.

QUESTION: In the book, you talk about perception. Can you talk more about that?

ANSWER: Sure, perception is a combination of what we see, hear, and experience. People form a perception of us based on those things. Now, it’s easy for us to dismiss it when someone gathers what we think is a wrong perception… Christians have done that too long with the “I don’t care what they think as long as I think I’m right” mentality. The truth is, we have to own that. If we’re giving people far from God the wrong perception, we have to change what they are seeing, hearing, or experiencing. I talk about how we can do that in the book. I think it’s such an important and simple principle.

QUESTION: Where can we get the book and find you?

ANSWER: The book is at your favorite bookstore and Amazon. You can go to craveable.com to read more about the book and places to find it. Me, I’m @ArtieDavis on twitter and blog at artiedavis.com

Artie’s new book called Craveable: The Irresistible Jesus in Me, releases February 5, 2013. Find out more at Craveable.com and on twitter @CraveableChurch

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7 Ways to Support Your Pastor on Sunday

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Sunday mornings are a stressful time for pastors. My ministry includes interacting with dozens of pastors each week. It appears to me that there are some common experiences on Sunday morning for many of us.

I also know most people who love their church…and love their pastor…want to help any way they can to make the Sunday morning experience the best it can be. That’s what this post is about.

Here are 7 ways you can help your pastor on Sunday:

Pray – Pray for your pastor. Ask God to open the ears of the people, to guide your pastor’s heart and to bless the services with His Spirit.

Don’t critique – Sunday morning is not the best time to bring complaints. It is very distracting when the pastor is about to speak to hear criticism that will have to be dealt with later. It weighs very heavy on the mind and gets in the way of focusing on the message. Hold those until Monday, but even then, ask yourself if sharing it is personal to you or genuinely helpful to the entire body.

Don’t share something you want us to remember – Most likely we will forget what you told us by the time Sunday is done. Send us an email later or call us Monday morning. If it must be shared on Sunday, please write it down for us so we can remember the details. Our minds are so clouded on Sunday thinking about a million different things. And, we try hard to make our focus about a message we hope God will use.

Be Kingdom-minded – Think of others interests even ahead of your own. Keep in mind the temperature in the room may not be your ideal temperature, but it may be exactly the right temperature for someone else. Your song may not be sung today, but it could be the song that leads another to the throne of grace. The message may not address what you’re dealing with right now, but for someone else, it might be life-changing. Be a part of the crowd that says, “I love what helps another” and you’ll help your pastor and the church greatly on Sunday mornings.

Volunteer – The work of the church can’t function with only a few people. I’ve never met the church that had too many people volunteering in preschool ministry, too many greeters, or too many people willing to do whatever it takes.

Introduce us to visitors – We love to meet visitors, especially those seeking a church home. It is comforting when the church is bringing people with them or meeting new visitors as they arrive.

Pray – It really does begin and end with prayer. More than anything, we want your prayer support. The Spirit of God seems to respond when you do.

Pastor, how else can people help you on Sunday?