Pastor Dad

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.

Genesis 3:6 NLT

More often than not when this passage is read it’s made obvious that the woman was the one who took the fruit and ate. The part that is often left out is the fact that Adam was right there! It says he was with her. What was he doing while she was being deceived? What did he say when she ate? Nothing! What did he do when she gave some to him? He ate. What happened later when God confronted Adam about it? He blamed Eve, and God! 

Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”… the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”
Genesis 3:9‭, ‬11‭-‬12 NLT

Notice how Adam says “it was the woman YOU gave me…” Adam blamed God for giving him a companion, and he blamed the companion and yet when God came looking for them He called on Adam for an explanation. 

Over and over again the Bible plays out this idea that the man is to be responsible for his house, it began in the garden and continues all the way to Revelation. People will misinterpret the whole thing to make it fit their agendas – blame the spouse, blame God, but never, ever take responsibility for themselves. You’ve probably also seen another extreme – the man is the ruler of the house and everyone must now to his supreme authority. Both of those examples are lies that come straight from the father of lies. 

The father is to be the pastor of the house, in the same way that Jesus came and served, is how a father should treat his household. Teach, love, and model godly living is what’s expected of a man. You might remember the book of Job, when Job thought that his children MAY have sinned, what did he do? He went and offered up a sacrifice to God just in case. That’s a good example, always being responsible for your family even if you don’t know what they’re up to. 

And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.  He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body.
Ephesians 5:21‭-‬30 NLT

Again, much is made about the Bible saying that women should submit to their husbands. But what does it say right before that? Submit to one another. What responsibility does the Bible place on wives? Submission. What does it place on husbands? Love so great that if it were to cost him his life, he is to give it. Be responsible for her and her actions, make her holy, unblemished. Love her as he loves himself, always looking out for her best interest. 

I may be getting into theology here a bit, I hope you don’t mind but God places the family’s burdens on the shoulders of the father. The same way He placed the sins of the world on Jesus’ shoulders at Calvary. This doesn’t mean that we (husbands) have to pay for their sins but it does mean that when we give account for our lives we will be asked about our household and why they are wherever they are, whether that be in heaven or not. 

I only recently began to see myself as pastor dad of my house, and no it’s not a burden, it’s not a dictatorship where I yell and everyone scurries to please me. It’s a joy to have my family under my wing, to be the teacher, the protector, the… father. And with Jesus as my Lord, I know I have all the resources I need to accomplish what God has asked. 

The God Box

Looking at our current state of evangelism today would you be able to say that it’s effective? Here’s what I mean, as Christians we go around talking about sin and sinners more than we talk about Jesus and forgiveness of the sin and the sinner. 

I call it “The God Box” because in many ways we’ve stuffed God into a box and in order for us to introduce someone to God we make them fit into that box. But they can’t just jump right in, we make them complete a checklist of what we think makes a good Christian and if they don’t check off each item, no entry to The God Box for them. 

Think about it, have you ever walked up to that person you know who’s into drugs and tell them that Jesus can forgive you, Jesus can redeem you and Jesus can transform you? Instead we’re more likely to condemn that addict to hell because he won’t listen to our advice to go clean himself up and then go to church. 

Do you try to explain away our God to people who ask questions designed to take you off course? I do. I’ve had people mockingly ask a question only to laugh at my answer. I realize later that they already have the answer they want to that question, they’re not interested in the truth. 

There are thousands of books, podcasts, videos and CD’s out there that will tell you how to evangelize effectively, some of them are helpful, useful even, I know I’ve read some of them. But what would happen if we took the step by step out of it? If we decided to get to know a person all the while praying for them and being there? What if we decided to be like Jesus for people instead of pretending we have the power to condemn? 

Maybe if instead of making the addict fit into a box and instead of pretending that we know it all, we just got to know people, know their struggles, be there for them, be Jesus to them they would see Him through us and if the Holy Spirit is willing, they too would know the God that we know. 

Too often I see the Facebook evangelist (I’m not making fun, I’m a Facebook evangelist too) preach that hell is hot and that a lot of people are going there, instead of saying “Jesus offers forgiveness, to everyone! Including those who don’t fit into our God box. 

The Harvest

You’ve heard the line that if you don’t vote in the election you can’t complain about the result? Well, I voted and trust me, I complain about the result… Anyway, the same principle could be applied to your spiritual life, if you never take your life to God, you can’t complain about what you perceive as His absence. 

So Moses told the people, “You must be careful to obey all the commands of the Lord your God, following his instructions in every detail. Stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy.
Deuteronomy 5:32‭-‬33 NLT

If you take a look at the world through the eyes of the media you’ll see nothing but bad news – war, suicide bombings, racial tensions, death and destruction everywhere you go. But if you take a look at the world through the eyes of Jesus’ followers you should see hope, love, forgiveness, and redemption. You should also see Jesus, in every minute of every day as we take everything to Him in prayer. 

Sadly this isn’t always the case. Many Christians are only Sunday Christians, they’ll show up in church and sneak out before the final amen, J.D Greear calls them ‘ninja christians’ because nobody even knew they were there. Perhaps this is what Jesus was talking about when He said “two will be working in the field, one will be taken,, and the other left” (Matthew 24:40.41). 

That verse is often interpreted as one of those men was a Christian and the other was not. I wonder if it means that both were Christian at least by title but only one was a true Christian. In Matthew 9:37 and again in Luke 10:2 Jesus says “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” and if of the two workers only one will be taken and the other left because only one was a true Christian but both were there because Jesus called them there… 

This might be a stretch but if I look at the amount of people who attend church and if I could see the amount of people who are truly Christian I think we would see that played out right before our eyes. The harvest is there and plentiful but only some of the workers there are truly there for Jesus. 

I don’t know, I might be way off and I certainly do not want to misinterpret scripture, I hope you will tell me if I am. At the very least I hope we take those verses seriously and be the workers Jesus called us to be. 

Have a great Friday!

The Road to Damascus

If you’re a Christian you probably know of the story of Paul on the road to Damascus, he was on his way to hunt down more followers of ‘The Way’ when Jesus knocked him down and confronted him face to face. 

As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”

Acts of the Apostles 9:3‭-‬4 NLT

Paul was on his way to committing sin but Jesus prevented it. In the same way we are often on our way to committing sin but Jesus doesn’t step in and stop us, naturally this could lead to the ‘free will’ debate and I’m open to having it but today I want to talk instead about our sin and our state of mind when we decide to sin. 

Take the plight of the porn addict for example, if he’s a Christian he knows that it’s wrong, and yet there is a split second decision that’s made and he’s right back in the middle of it. Alcohol, drugs, and sex can all be characterized in much the same way – users almost always know that it’s wrong, that it’s a path that leads to destruction (here’s the counter argument to the free will debate) but in the moment it’s like they can’t help it, it – the addiction – has control over them, instead of Jesus. 

I think Paul had a similar addiction, not to drugs or alcohol or porn, but to power and I also believe he had an insatiable desire to do what he was convinced was right. It literally took Jesus Christ to knock him down for him to see the error in his ways. The result of which is the Apostle Paul – the guy who penned more than half of the New Testament! 

Jesus doesn’t show up for us the same way He did for Paul, He chose instead to send us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit may not show up in such a dramatic way but He is there. He is the voice that reminds you as you are about to do that thing that you know is wrong that it is indeed wrong and you shouldn’t do it. 

The Holy Spirit is the one who gives you that thought right before you open your mouth to gossip, He’s the one who makes you hesitate right before you open that book, talk to that person, open that door, turn on that screen. He is the one who when you are on your own road to Damascus shows up and urges you to stop what you’re doing, turn around and go back. 

We’ve all been on that road, about to commit that sin we know is a sin and instead of listening to the Holy Spirit we make a choice to go ahead. The next time you are on that road visualize Jesus standing there in your way, block out everything else and fall at His feet, you know what the amazing thing is? Jesus could condemn you in that moment but if it’s forgiveness you seek He won’t do that, instead He’ll pick you up and take your hand and lead you back to the way you should go. 

That’s how awesome our God is! 

Wishy-Washy Christianity

Prime time TV doesn’t usually offer much in the way of wisdom, but yesterday I heard this line “having a right, is not the same thing as doing what is right” and all I heard was what the Apostle Paul said to the church in Corinth: ‘You say, “I am allowed to do anything” —but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.” (1 Corinthians 10:23‭-‬24)

Mega church pastor Andy Stanley said that we are a nation obsessed with our rights and oblivious to our responsibilities, and he’s right. Turn on the news, check your Facebook newsfeed and you’ll see that’s all anyone can talk about – their rights to do certain things. 

The TV show I mentioned and it’s biblical counter part both say that while we may have a right to do it, doing it may not be the right thing because it’s either going to end up hurting ourselves or someone else. The tough part is distinguishing between our rights and what is right. 

The world we live in doesn’t want to hear this, as far as they’re concerned if it’s legal, then they’re doing it. If it’s not legal and they think it should be, then they’re doing it. In their defense they aren’t bound by moral absolutes the way we are, they are what Jesus’ half brother James called ‘wishy-washy’. (James 1:6-8)

Christians believe that God is unchanging and so is His Word. Unlike some of the mainstream churches today that have decided to conform to social pressures, true Christianity stands firm in God’s truth despite what the culture around them says about them. The church is supposed to influence culture, not the other way around. 

What I’m talking about of course is the big sexual revolution of our generation. In just a short period of time homosexuality has gone from something that was never even talked about to being on nearly every TV show, talk show, newspaper, radio, social media site and it’s being promoted and celebrated by our governments. People like me who dare to speak and say that it’s a sin are at best, chastised by the world around us and at worst destroyed both financially and socially by the government and our friends and family. 

Allow me to clarify the ‘homosexuality is a sin’ statement. I’m not saying that it’s the only sin, or that it’s a worse sin, just that it is a sin. Just like many other sins that are legal today like – pornography, drunkenness, gossip, rage, bitterness, lies, the list goes on. Watching porn today is not illegal, in fact in many sitcoms it’s talked about as if it’s normal, so normal that if you’re not watching it, you’re the freak. Drinking in excess is perfectly legal, again it’s expected from you if you want to be cool. And parents of teenagers today don’t forbid it outright so that their teens don’t hate them. Here’s a big one, abortion. Perfectly legal in most places today and talked about as if having one is simply a choice to be made and nothing more. These are all examples of rights people have that according to the Bible are not right, i,e sin. 

Those that don’t like what I’m saying have probably already clicked on the X to close the window but for the rest of you, you should know that I am not trying to condemn anyone, or dehumanize anyone as I’ve been accused of in the past. No, I’m just saying that some things are sinful, even if you have a right to do them. Holding these beliefs also means being automatically branded a bigot, a homophobe and no matter what I say it seems I can’t get through to them that just because I see it as a sin does not mean I hate them. Quite the contrary actually. Telling someone something that could be the difference between heaven and hell is not a hateful thing, it’s a loving thing. Nevertheless, the beliefs that I hold and many other Christians hold are often the barrier between us and everyone else, and that division is what causes many on both sides to simply stay on their side and not stretch out the hand of grace. 

I know many such Christians. Many who would rather separate and isolate themselves from what they see as a world gone to hell than to take a chance on someone from that world. I don’t believe that’s the answer, I don’t think that building a compound and creating a secret society for Christians is the best way to live out what Jesus called us to do. Sadly, that’s what many Christians do today, they won’t engage with culture for fear of being called names. They won’t risk their comfort because someone might challenge them and what they believe. They refuse to go out and try to influence the world around them out of fear that the world will influence them. 

The Apostle Paul taught the Corinthians not to judge the outside world, but to judge fellow Christians. “It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside…”

(1 Corinthians 5:12‭-‬13). We don’t go out to judge the lost world, they don’t even know they’re doing wrong, remember what Jesus said about the soldiers and mockers while He was hanging on the cross? We go out and tell anyone who will listen that Jesus loves them – gay, drunk, had an abortion, spreads lies, filled with rage, we tell them all that Jesus can and will forgive them. Yes, they have an earthly right to those things but they all lead to destruction. Turn away from the things that only give temporary peace and turn to the One who holds eternity’s peace. Tell those who think their identity is tied into their sexuality that Jesus knows what temptation feels like, He overcame it and with His help they can too. (Matthew 4:1-11)

For those Christians who think that putting a barrier between themselves and the rest of the world I would say they are committing the sin of omission. Refusing to spread the gospel to a lost and hurting world is directly disobeying the call that Jesus placed on our lives. (Matthew 28:16-20)

The majority of the North American population still identify as Christian, or at least hold a belief in God and yet saying something biblical is treated like minority thinking, on the fringe if you will. The reason for this is the wishy-washy thinking I mentioned earlier, many say they are Christian but don’t cling to biblical truth. And it’s because of that wishy-washyness that the gospel isn’t being spread the way it should be if there were actually as many Christians as people who claim to be. 

Think You Know It All? If So, Then This One’s For You. 

With the advent of social media came the opening of Pandora’s box when it comes to opinions. I’m thinking that Mark Zuckerberg didn’t know the monster he created would take on a life of it’s own. Best laid plans, as it were, was that Facebook would be a virtual meeting place for friends and family to come together and share the goings on of life. And at first that’s what it was, for many it still is. But for some, myself included Facebook is being used as a license to air unsolicited opinions and advice to anyone and everyone who’ll listen. 

Yes, even without Facebook we all know a Mr or Mrs know-it-all that insists on throwing in their two cents on every topic imaginable. You can’t have a relaxing anything with these people around because let’s face it, when you know someone who knows everything they make sure everyone knows it. Facebook has given these people a radioactive injection of superhero movie proportions that would make spiderman look more like the tiny spider in Charlotte’s Web. 

This is what advertisers on social media want, get a story so opinion provoking that it goes viral. Make it trend on Twitter and you’ll find millions of comments, opinions, debates, debates within debates and of course what it’s all about…Money.

So what is a guy or gal to do with all of it? We can’t exactly delete Facebook and block Twitter out of our lives, most of us have family in faraway places that we need to stay in touch with. To be honest most of us like a good debate now and then, again I’m including myself in that statement. With the internet came social media, but it also brought us information like never before. Put those two together and we have the perfect virtual storm to go head to head with those whom we oppose. 

So I ask, what is a CHRISTIAN guy or gal to do with it? What everyone else does with it is up to them. We won’t like much of it in the same way we don’t like much of what happens in the real world, it’s what we do and how we react to the information thrown in our faces that matters. Moreover, it’s how we treat each other in the virtual world that should make people look at us and say “wow”, our interactions with each other should be so filled with love that people literally stop what they’re doing and ask “what’s up with them?”

Sadly, this isn’t the case. We take to our keyboards and our smartphones, access our accounts and we let the world have it, all of it. We let them know what we think and how we feel and we judge, condemn and sentence millions to brimstone and fire like it’s our right to do so. Not to mention the ugly attacks we inflict on our brothers and sisters in Christ. We debate in some of the ugliest fashion whether or not alcohol has a place in a Christian home, we tell the world that we spank our kids and the Bible defends it, we verbally assault each other when it comes to immunizations and vaccines. I’ve seen Christians tell other Christians that the version of the Bible they’re choosing to read is the Devil’s word and not God’s. I’ve perused the comments on posts about abortion and couldn’t believe what I saw, some actually wished that others were aborted! We post and debate the end of the world as if we actually know what we’re talking about. We’re so self centered that we read Daniel and Revelation like it’s us it’s talking about. And I’m still talking about Christians here.

We’re brothers and sisters in Christ and yet we fight like the brothers and sisters from the broken homes we condemn. I’m all for talking about things, in fact I have a Facebook group that I admin where we do just that, we differ in opinions sometimes but my rule is “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” I took it right from the Bible (Colossians 4:6). 

It breaks my heart and I know that it breaks the heart of our Father God as well. The Bible says we should be like-minded (Phillipians 2:2) agreeing with each other whole heartedly. That doesn’t mean we have to agree on whether or not it’s ok to bake cookies on the Sabbath or if we should have fellowship with members of a church not our own. It means be like-minded in that God is the creator of all things, Jesus is His Son and He died for us. Jesus rose on the third day once and for all defeating death and paving our way into Heaven if we just accept Him. 

Be like-minded in that we do everything possible to avoid causing a brother or sister to stumble (Romans 14:13). That means if a friend had a drinking problem you don’t drink in front of him, not because you believe it to be sinful but because it was a stumbling block for him. It means that if your sister thinks eating pork is wrong then you don’t fight her on it, it’s not nearly as important as the fact that Jesus is Lord, if you both believe that then pork is not a big deal. 

In my life thus far I have been a member at two churches, naturally this causes people to wonder what I thought was wrong with the first one that caused me to leave. My answer is this, nothing. I fell away from the church, I got lazy, I was the one who rejected God. And believe it or not, God had a purpose for that too. In between my first church and the one I go to now God was shaping me, teaching me, baptizing me in fire if you will. It was when I least expected it that God woke me from my self inflicted rebellion. It took some time but He led me straight to the church I currently call home.

In my culture church hopping is a big no-no, and to a certain degree I agree, but if God wants to use me in a certain place then that’s where I’m going. The reason I bring up my church is because it was in this church that I learned that Christians can have varying opinions on many things (including church hopping), both Biblical and secular, and it’s not a sin, it isn’t wrong. It’s what my pastor calls disputable matters. Which of course implies that some things are indisputable, some things are not up for debate, and that’s the core beliefs of any Christian Church, which this popular song by the NewsBoys said ever so clearly – we believe in God the Father, we believe in Jesus Christ, we believe in the Holy Spirit…

What I’m trying to say is don’t get caught up in the little things that don’t matter, if your church uses instruments and a band to do worship and your friend’s church uses a choir, neither one is wrong. If one church does communion this way and another does it differently, that’s okay. And before you go running around shouting out laws from Leviticus be sure that you’re free and clear from being condemned by the very words you use to condemn. 

That is all, have a great rest of your day and thanks so much for reading! If this resonates with you feel free to share. Buh bye. 

A Priest, A Levite and A Samaritan….

Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
Luke 10:30‭-‬37 NLT 

You’ve probably read that parable many times before, or at least heard the story or a reference to it. I love it because Jesus tells it in a way that infers biblical knowledge. You can relate to the story even if you’ve never read the Bible but if you can understand the significance of a priest, a Levite and a Samaritan other than the fact that it sounds like a bad joke, you know your Bible better than the average Joe. 

Usually when this parable is told we find ourselves answering Jesus’ question from the perspective of the Samaritan, we think we would be the one who would do right by the dying man on the road. This morning I heard that story from the perspective of the dying man. 

The priest was on his way back to his hometown after performing a purification ritual at the temple – a process that can take up to seven days. Helping the man on the side of the road would make him unclean and he’d have to do the ritual again. That’s a huge inconvenience! 

The passage I shared above says ‘temple assistant’ but other translations call him a Levite. He’s like a priest in training, a junior pastor if you will. He walks by the dying man for what most of us would admit is a good reason – there’s danger on that road, bandits would hide on it and rob and sometimes even kill those they capture. Furthermore, he’s trying to be clean like the priest and touching someone who is bleeding would make him unclean. 

The Samaritan on the other hand is a despised enemy of the Jews! He represents a bad part of Jewish history when the Jews married gentiles (a big no-no in Old Testament times). He would be a sworn enemy of the Jews who would at times try to defile the temple with the blood of what the Jews considered the most unclean of all animals – the pig. This guy is the guy who stops to help and this guy is the one Jesus says to be like. 

The dying man. We don’t know what his story is other than that he was attacked by the robbers mentioned in the passage. He was left for dead and he probably seen that a priest walked right by him. Think of your pastor walking by and you were the man laying on the road – bleeding. Then a guy who you know works in the temple does the same thing, leaves you there. Then, your sworn enemy comes strolling down the road and he actually stops, helps you, nurses you back to health and pays for your safe place to stay while you heal. 

The reason Jesus says that we should be like the Samaritan is because we are the sworn enemy of God. What with all of our sin, and our pride and selfishness. Jesus is the man on the side of the road, bleeding for the sins of the world, your sin and mine. More often than not we are the priests and the Levites who walk by someone in need and deny them help in favor of our self preservation. 

Understanding that we are all sinners, not one better than another is the first step. The next step is to help those who need it, no matter who they are. The final step is to accept what Jesus offers – to be the one who bleeds and dies in our place.