Friday, December 28, 2012

Do You Want To Be Healed?

Believer or unbeliever, we have more in common than you think.  And here it is,

You are your worst enemy. 

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin. 

Let's read God's word today.  John 5:2-9

 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades.  In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.  One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”  The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”  Jesus said to him, Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”  And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. 

Typically, when I'm sitting through the community singing portion of worship on a Sunday, a few things are on my mind.  And typically, that depends on how my week has been.  And here recently, I've had to deal with a little stagnation.  It's felt like the feeling when you've been hungry all day and all of a sudden you don't feel hungry anymore?  It's that part of your fast where your stomach is giving you the business and the growls for like 30 minutes straight, and after awhile it just stops.  Yes, that's how I've been feeling. This truth that I need to eat, but not wanting to walk into the kitchen to prepare anything. 

What is that? 

So anyways, this particular Sunday, I was singing in church and having a hard time getting in tune with anything, and the Holy Spirit asks me, "Son, what's wrong?"  Then I go through our routine of telling Him that I've been a lazy bum and haven't pursued you in like two weeks, and I'm sure you've had so many things that you've wanted to show me or reveal to me since I got lazy, and I'll never catch up to You, and I'm so undeserving of this relationship, I'm bringing nothing to the table in this relationship. You know, the rant many of us do to God.  And then the Holy Spirit reminds me that what I just described was the Gospel and exactly why I'm in relationship with Him.  I immediately begin crying and the passage of scripture at the beginning of this blog comes to my mind. 

Do you want to be healed? 

Basically, this was my thought at that time.  Claude, you are currently present with the Creator of the heavens and the earth.  He has all power in His hands, able to redeem, heal, and restore You right now.  So, forget the past and respond right now, do you want to be healed?  Do you want to be better? Do you want things to change? 

And I felt like the guy in the text.  Let's put ourselves in his shoes.  For 38 years he has been coming to this pool to receive healing and has yet to successfully find it.  So you know, there was heavy doubt in his head every year he showed up.  Let's jump into his head. 

"I've been coming to this pool for 38 years.  The same thing happens, the angel comes and stirs the water, I'm too slow to jump in, and some younger and faster person jumps in before me.  It's the same thing every year.  I try, and it fails.  Every single year." 

And here's Jesus, walking up to him, asking him the most obvious question.  Do you want to be healed?

But the guy doesn't even answer him with a yes or no! He just starts giving Jesus complaints and excuses.  Well sir, I'm too slow and weak and blah blah blah, and Jesus doesn't even wait for him to answer, He just tells the man get up, take up your bed, and walk.

And don't we do the same thing?

The revelation I had in church, was this, "Son, if you want to be healed, get up.  Get up. Listen, you've had faith in other things that you thought would work and they failed you, well you're going to fall sometimes.  But get up.  I'm in front you.  Which means redemption is available.  Restoration is available.  Healing is available.  But you have to get up to see it.  You're healed already, but you have to get up.  You have to get up and get off your mat which is crippling you in your condition." 

The symbolism of this would be this, friends, you have to make the effort to get healed.  And that effort is not putting more faith in what you think will work or your many vices, but putting the faith in what is proven to work for you, and that's Jesus.  I don't know what you're dealing with right now, I don't know what you need to get up and have faith in Jesus that you can actually stand up straight, but you need to do it.  Because this guy didn't know he was healed until he responded to Jesus, or I'll say it this way---until he got up. 

Here's some practical things.  Let's focus a little more on the things that we want to see changed.  Hey, if you're overweight, get up and start working out.  If you're lonely, get up and pursue friendships, get plugged into a church.  If you're broken, get up and seek healing.  But hear me on this part, realize that these things are obtainable because of the offer of Jesus that's in front of us.  Pursue these things through Jesus.  Don't become legalistic.  Pursue them through your pursuit of Jesus.  If you're an unbeliever to the faith, maybe that's your first "get up" step.  Jesus is in front of you, offering you deep intimacy and deep healing of all your wounds that was self inflicted because of your sin.  You're not a sinner because you sin, you sin because you're a sinner.  Big difference.  And that difference is why you need Jesus to begin any of this.  You have to have a righteousness that supersedes your own.  There is NO other way around it.  Jesus must be where you find your salvation, it is the only thing that has satisfied God's wrath for your sin.  So believer and unbeliever...

Get up. 

Jesus is telling you to pick up your bed.  Pick up your excuses and reasons you shouldn't or don't want to, and walk. 

And your worst enemy-- you can call him/her (ME) or Satan-- will tell you that you're okay.  That you can get over it by yourself.  That you can deal with it.  You don't need people.  It's not that big of a deal.  I can never lose the weight.  I'm too far gone to find healing.  Time will fix it.  I can never forgive them.   

Jesus is bigger than that. His power is way bigger than that.  His grace is way more than that. 


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Come Let Us Adore Him

O come all yet faithful, joyful and triumphant.  O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.  Come and behold Him, Born the King of Angels.  O come, let us adore Him.  O come, let us adore Him.  O come let us adore Him.  Christ the Lord. 

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let us begin. 

See what I did there?  Haha.  Anyways, first of all let me say that I think this song should not only be sung at Christmas.  This Christmas season, this song has been one of songs that has deeply moved in my heart and is I'm sure becoming my favorite Christmas song.  Here's why. 

This year has been filled with many challenges that has pushed me to finding where I stand in Christ.  I have great great friendships and have had great situations that has risen this year that has challenged my belief system.  Not challenged to the point of does Jesus exist or not, but honestly everything else outside of it.  For example, questions about what is church? Who is church for?  What determines salvation? How is a person saved? Does this work? Does that work? Is this pastor corrupt? What are the mysteries of the Bible?

These questions don't scare me.  They used to, but not anymore.  The illustration I picture when I'm thinking about questions such as these is this:  I am being handed different color helium balloons.  Each balloon represents someone suggesting, "Claude, consider this."  And I'm only able to hold all these different "consider this" balloons and not fly away as long as my feet remains anchored in a foundation of Jesus.  Every time I'm having these deep theological talks with my Christian friends I'm usually thinking of two things, 1. I have too many of these conversations.  2.  Why is he/she really suggesting this? 

Let me please go on the record by saying that I love my friends deeply.  I love that they challenge me, but I'm also glad that I have also been focusing on being sure they aren't fully influencing my thinking and my views.  I'll confess, I haven't always been this way.  But now I continue to always rest in the truth that Jesus is Lord above ALL.  As uncomfortable as that may be for some, He is. 

I love that. 

I'm thankful for a Savior that can move in a box and way outside of the box.  That we can get a ministry method down to a science, and something can screw up one night and Jesus still shows up---and people leave saying it was the best service they've been to. I love that He can move in order and in chaos.  He can be light in the light and light in the darkness.  He can be truth in lies and truth in truth.  I love the majesty of in one room, the same message can speak to people in different ways.  One person can fall in love with Jesus, one can be pushed further away, one can be asleep and hear nothing, while one can be half in tune but hear one thing that shows up years down the road.  I love this.  I love this dynamic of my Savior.  So I want to continue to just adore Him. 

And I think about things we adore. Even the definition helps set the tone.  Adore means to worship or honor; to regard with loving admiration and devotion; to be very fond of.  Do we all know what it feels like to adore something?  I think of little children when they see Santa Claus. Or when I've been on a cruise ship and I've looked out at a beautiful sunset over the large seemingly endless body of water and have just deeply been fond of the view.  Which drives me to thinking of Mary's perspective of her son.  She was calling him Lord---her child.  But the beauty of knowledge when it's attributed to faith.  Because what I see in the Christmas story of the birth of Jesus is a knowledge of a group of people who knew the Messiah was expected to come, and the faith to believe that when Mary was having this baby that surely this was Him that the angels had been speaking of and the prophets have been excited about. And recently as I've been finally reading the Old Testament, I'm seeing the foreshadowing of Jesus all through the Old Testament.  The older prophets are exclaiming how excited they are for the COMING salvation.  The coming lamb of God, and I remember falling asleep a few nights ago with thoughts of my many conversations and I'm constantly reminded of where I's really all about Jesus.  

I'm thinking maybe as a culture and as a body of believers that we are neglecting Christ's full glory.  I feel like the Facebook Correction Effect is happening.  Know what that is?  It's the people that post Facebook statuses correcting people of posting their opinions when they're posting their opinions as they create the status correcting people posting their opinions.  So what I'm hearing is that people are getting so frustrated with the prosperity gospel and whatever gospel churches are choosing to preach, and the ones sound in doctrine are screaming at them saying you need to be sound in doctrine, which is just both extremes screaming at each other and we're missing the point that Jesus is returning again and that EVERY KNEE WILL BOW because of His glory.  Please hear me, I want people to get back to preaching and teaching from the Bible.  I want us to be sound in doctrine.  But even above that, I want people to know Jesus.  I want to help people find, gain, maintain, and grow, and mature in relationship with their Creator and Savior.  And honestly, willing to do whatever it takes.  That make you uncomfortable?

Lol. Good. 

I feel like I've been walking in both extremes of whatever people are choosing to debate all the time and honestly, I'm choosing to rest here.  Jesus is Lord.  I love that you think church is for believers and the hip new churches don't work, but if people are finding Jesus and coming to know him then your argument is invalid to me.  And I love that your church is growing in numbers, but if people are only coming to laugh at your jokes and enjoy your cool videos and drink your coffee and no life change is happening, then your argument is invalid to me.  If your pastor is doing such a great job of teaching Bible and you're growing in your knowledge of scripture, which doesn't guarantee you'll grow in knowing better the God of the Bible, but you're not growing in your faith and your love and your relationships, then your idea of whatever you believe is invalid to me.  I am impressed with your theology and I will love to go toe to toe and discuss deep biblical trues and discuss predestination and biblical relationships, but at the end of the day....and please hear me right the end of the day, you know what's really happening? 

People are dying and going to hell because they are choosing to deny the salvation that's been freely provided, choosing to endure the wrath of God themselves and not embrace and receive Jesus's payment for their sins. So if your knowledge is not pushing you into using it to reel in unbelievers, then what's the point?  You may have an answer to that.  Good.  I'm sure you can use it on someone else.  

I just can't shake this thought that Jesus is really IT. Like any other religion would be enticing to me if they had Jesus in it.  Like, Jesus is IT.  Jesus saving the thief on the cross has been huge for me.  It's done something to my understanding of His character.  I mean, this guy had no understanding of the gospel, no understanding of the Trinity, no understanding of grace or church methodology, no understanding of tithing or your life will be better if you do this, AND JESUS SAVED HIM! 

Dude got saved with a few hours left on his time clock.  So, yeah.  I'll let the Bible deal with you on that.  But as for me, I'm going to continue to adore my Savior.  Continue to fall passionately and deeply in love with Him.  Yes, I'll grow in knowledge.  Yes, I'll grow in outreach.  But what I really and desperately want for myself and for you is this, than when Jesus comes back in all His glory and He's gathering the ones He knows, that you and I are in the midst of that group, because He knows you, and we know Him.  

So let's adore Him.  The thought of Jesus warms us so deeply that anything we're doing at the moment is nonexistent.  And reverence to honor something we adore.  To worship our Holy King that has relieved us of our debt of sin and is providing for us new life in Him.  Let's adore Him, just like the people that gathered to see this baby boy laying in a manager adored Him.  THERE GOES OUR SALVATION, right there.  And I know, we may be at a disadvantage, because I know it's difficult to adore something that we can't see.  But we must pursue it.  We must seek to find why we should adore Him.  Yes, that will take you growing in knowledge of Him, but that's a natural part of a relationship.  So the biggest pursuit should be relationship.  

Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."    John 20:29

Blessed are we who have not seen, and yet we have believed. 

Come friends.  Let's adore Him. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Men, Why Are We So Stupid?

A man's pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.  Proverbs 29:23

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin. 

Men, we are mildly pathetic.

And I only say mildly just to ease you into these brutal words I'm about to say.  And honestly, I'm sure this area can be applied to both genders, but today, right now, I really only want to talk to men.  Ladies, feel free to watch. 

So this blog is coming from a recent experience I had with my roommate.  And of course, this is something I've understood for months, but it resurfaced last night.  Here's the story. 

My roommate, also a great friend of mine, embodies a lot of passions and characteristics and habits that I want to have in myself. I went to the gym with him last night and first of all, didn't want to do his workout because I felt inadequate.  He's a lot stronger and better at it so I didn't want to be vulnerable there.  But I somehow agreed to do it.  Then I had to deal with his constant encouraging me during the workout, "Dude, shut up.  I know what I'm doing."  (Funny how pride can cause encouraging words to be annoying).  And then I had to deal the reality of maybe he does know what he's doing.  So again, somehow, I cut a deal, "How about you be my personal trainer and I continue to give you free haircuts?"  Which beneath that, this is what I was saying, "Hey, you're pretty good at this and I'm not.  I'm pretty good at haircuts, which is something I'm good at and you're not..  So let's make a fair trade so I don't feel like a loser coming to this gym with you." 

So, men, why are we so stupid?

Why do we allow our egos to cripple us in staying in mediocrity?  It didn't help at all that my roommate and I talked about accountability right afterwards, because the same attitude that showed up in the gym is exactly why I'm afraid of accountability, I DO NOT WANT TO ADMIT MY WEAKNESSES. 

No, men are supposed to be strong towers and rock solid.  Firm and in control.  Blah blah blah.  It's stupid for us to think this way.  Here I am, secretly wanting to workout and be in shape, and living with a freaking personal trainer.  But my ego has been keeping me from asking him for help.  And men, the same with accountability.  YOU NEED IT.  Shut up, you do.  You know you do.  You do not have it together.  You can't do it on your own.  You're terrible at holding your ownself accountable.  You'll never get better without it.  GET OVER YOURSELF. 

Okay, I know some of you may be good at self discipline, and some of you may be strong---but all I'm saying is that your solid cultural manhood can be and is probably preventing you from being such a better man.  This is fully applied in so many areas.  Because honestly, it takes some vulnerability to get healed.  The Bible tells us in James, Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.   Your pride is driving you into isolation, where Satan is wonderful at manipulating and causing you to stumble.  The "I can do it on my own" mindset is exactly the pride that causes you to fall.  It's the ultimate expression of weakness, even though our world sees it and tells you it's a strength.  Our pride is causing us to hide sin, to hide weakness, so therefore we never repent, and we never experience the strength of Jesus in our weakness.  God! Can I say that again? 

Our pride is causing us to hide sin, to hide weakness, so therefore we never repent, and we never experience the strength of Jesus in our weakness.  So the point of this blog is....

Men, stop being stupid. 

If you're afraid to go to church because you don't have anyone to go with, please stop it, you need to be there.  You need the community, you need the fellowship of other believers.  If you're afraid to be vulnerable with someone, please stop it.  That person is weak and helpless without Jesus so you sharing how you are weak and helpless does not make you lesser, but it's showing that you understand and realize that you need a Savior.  It's honestly just better life awareness.  I know you may need a little more than my own words.  So here's God, showing this in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Cross because it symbolizes that you already are weak.  So men, deal with that.  Accept that.  Repent and come to know Jesus, your true strength.  You are weak.  Your status will fail you.  Your money will fail you.  Your education and understanding will fail you.  You are not stronger and more wise and more rich and more glorified that Jesus, so get over yourself and deal with this reality.  The truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that you could not gain God's approval on your own, you could not pay for your own sin, you could not do anything with Him soo.....this idea that you're okay is a full out--blown out of proportion--- lie. Because if you were okay, you wouldn't need the Gospel. 

So men, stop being stupid.  Instead, let's accept the fact that we need each other, and we need Jesus.  Brothers, I need you, and you need me.  We will not reach and redefine manhood in our world and in our families without submitting ourselves to the authority of God and accepting the truth that we need Him in ALL areas of our lives.  Let me show you this ironic verse in Galatians 5:22-26 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

I find it funny that the fruit of the Spirit is self-control.  God gives us self control.  Hahaha. Makes you wonder how much control we really have huh?  So, stop being conceited, you don't have it together as well as you think.  You need help.  You need accountability.  You need community.  You need a best friend. You need a small group. You need a local church.  You need help. 

So stop being stupid.

Let's redefine strength men.  Or better said, let's define ourselves in the true definition of strength.  Let's live by 2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 


Thursday, December 6, 2012

You're Not That Awesome

Yeah. I said it. 

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin. 

I had this thought today about the disadvantages of the ME mentality of our culture.  I'm learning that we are actually losing or missing out on enjoying the value of God's splendor.  I'm really glad you're reading today.  Get ready for some gut punching. 

So let me say it again.  You're not that awesome.  Okay, maybe your parents did a great job of making you think that you're awesome.  But the truth of the matter is, you're not that awesome.  What you're finding your identity in is if anything fleeting and quite foolish.  Your taste in music is not that awesome.  Your swag or sense of style, not that awesome.  Your great job or career goals or ambitions, not that awesome.  Your GPA is not that awesome.  Your A's are not that awesome. Your perfect body and great teeth, not that awesome.  Your pageant winning beauty, not that awesome.  Your knowledge of football stats or any stats for that matter, not that awesome.  Your position and opinion, your Facebook posts and tweets, your clever idea of what you would do if you were president or a coach or whatever, not that awesome. 

I had the pleasure of watching this guy strut the intramural fields because he played for the Auburn football team.  I'm assuming, a few girls or probably a lot of girls for all I know have puffed his head up and his arrogance was just comical, even though in the same heart I grieved (but that's anoter blog), but I know the truth.  Bro, in two years, you'll be irrevelant.  You're not on Bo Jackson's level, so which means what for him, he's not that awesome.

I'm going somewhere with this, I promise. 

I've watched so many people find their identities in things that are, well, silly.  I've watched football players expect special treatment because they think they're awesome.  Celebrities do the same.  VIP's at the hotel I work at, all these people think they're awesome--and sadly, they're not. 

Hey, even myself.  I can get caught up in the influence I have at my church and the respect I get but the truth, the reality, I'm not that awesome.  If I was to leave today, a few people may miss, but soon, very soon at that--and hopefully and prayfully--another guy will come that everyone enjoys.  And even you reading my blog, if I get 100 views in one day---which would be awesome----but that wouldn't make me awesome.  Because.... 

I"m not that awesome. 

But I'm okay with that, and here's why. 

In order to enjoy the love of a Savior, we have to know we're sinners. 

That's true right?

I have to recognize my lowly position of falling short before the authority of God before I'm able to enjoy and bask in His love and grace. The gospel is scary sometimes, because even on my best day, like when my swag is tight and I haven't looked at a woman wrong all day probably because I haven't seen one all day, that even on that day I'm still not that awesome because I still fail God.  And so without that truth, I'm pridefully galloping around thinking I'm awesome, when actually, I am not. 

Can you imagine the chuckle that is probably deep within God's belly when we take pride in our own glory and in our own identities we form? 

These silly children. They actually think I'm going to compete for whose glory is better?  I'll just wait until there's fade, and they will see mine never does. 

Watch this. 

Who created the heavens and the earth?  Not you, He did.  Who has existed before creation, and will exist after creation?  Not you, He will.  Whose name has been talked about for generations?  Have you noticed that many believers are even afraid to bring up Jesus to their unbeliever friends?  Why is that?  His name, His glory is convicting, it's challenging, it's demanding Lordship, they don't like it, WE BARELY LIKE IT!  Whose name has been taken out of schools?  It offends.  Not yours, His name.  Whose name is praised when creation does how it was designed?  Not yours, His name.  Who aligned the writers of the Bible to somehow, check this out, they all lined up perfectly to say the same thing? Your name will not continue to be talked about after leaving this Earth.  Well, it may get brought up from time to time, but not weekly, or haha, definitely not every day.  And you wont have a book written about you that is translated in many different languages and continues to be sold generations and generations after you? 

So who is more awesome? You or Jesus? 

One of the most intimidating verses I've ran into so far in the Bible, and I love this, is this one.  

'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'" Romans 14:11.

On that day, bowing won't optional.  Responding to His glory won't be optional that day.  Either you'll willingly bow or the reverence and the weight of His glory and holiness causes you to fall on your knees to bow.  His glory is far greater than your own.

But I won't tear you down and not build you back up.  Hear me on this.

This is why we should rest in finding our identities only in Him. I love this truth about the story of the prodigal son.  Even when the prodigal son realized how lowly he had fallen, how unawesome he was, and he wanted to tell his dad what he should be considered in his eyes, "How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. Luke 15: 17-20

So he went home to the father, ready to confess and denounce his worthiness of sonship in his father's eyes.  And some could even say he may have deserved it, but what does the father do?  Let's read. 

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

He called Him son.  He still called Him His son!!!!  Imagine the weight of His father's love resting on Him in that moment?  Appearing before his father, feeling undeserving of any special treatment, entitlement, or special attention.  And yet, the Father showers him with the best of Him, and still calling him by how He saw him, son.

Friends, You are sons and daughters of a holy God, who is awesome.  You're called and chosen by Him to live in Him, to be in relationship and fellowship with Him--all of this is not because of you, but because of Him.  A holy and awesome God chose you to be His own possession.  He chose you to redeem, to forgive, to love and shower with mercy and grace.  Not because you're awesome, but because an awesome God chose you.  I'll sum it up this way. 

You're nothing because of yourself, but everything because of God. 

I mean, let's look at it for what it is, this grace is truly undeserving.  Like, truly and fully undeserving.  And the perks of living in Him...ohh...should I even start this? 

We get to chill with the coolest Creator daily.  Like, you can tap into His presence right now, He's with you right now, for those living in Him.  We get promises of joy and peace here today on Earth, because of the promise of eternity, which is our inheritance and our long awaited hope. 

You're nothing because of yourself, but everything because of God.  Deal with it.  Because when you do, His goodness covers you and you're able to share in His glory, bask in His goodness, drink from His presence, eat of His grace. 

So, you're not that awesome.  But your Father that is awesome, calls you His son and His daughter.  Boast in His name, not your own. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Our Subliminal Mentor

Hello readers.  Welcome to my heart.  Let's begin.

I honestly don't know where I first heard this topic at, but it resurfaced the other day as I listened to a Matt Chandler message, lead pastor at The Village Church. The topic is this: there's a truth about the human condition that a lot of us learn things subconsciously--and even scarier--form our identities around.  You may not be able to see this, but I want to help you in this.  This is important that all of us realize this.

We have subliminal mentors.

Culture is discipling us every single day.  It is our subliminal mentor.  I remember this idea came to me when I was thinking about how much of parenting is more about how you act than what you say.  And I've heard countless stories of people being deeply encouraged by just being able to watch someone's life.  And we have to realize that the opposite is also true--we can be deeply discouraged by someone's life as well.  And the truth that a lot of us love our pastors so much that we will do whatever they say.  Am I right?  After briefly watching the documentary about Jim Jones and The People's Temple, and the horrid and tragic and terrifying truth of that time in our history and I felt my heartbeat racing, my face hot and anger boiling in my heart at this horrible horrible man that did this to these people---but then, my frustration got to the people---- why were you unable to see what was happening to you?  Why were you unable to recognize the manipulation and isolation and terror approaching you? Why were you not pursuing God for yourself and able to recognize truth?  How could this man do this to you?  And it hit me, people are easily influenced---so easily discipled.  And we don't even realize it!  Why are there commercials?   The companies are marketing their products.  Ha, I'm such a victim of this.  I saw one Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet commercial and was hooked and went and bought it.  And I've countless times watched infomercials about getting fit with only 30 minutes a day and have bought into it, thinking could it be done foreal, just 30 minutes, that's no time at all.  We're being pimped and bamboozled everyday and don't even realize it.  Playing us for fools, because they know people won't research themselves, they'll just hear and go do.  Cows to the slaughter, daily, fully blind to we're being led to our deaths.

Okay, I'm ranting now, but please hear me.  Culture is discipling us every single day.  Many of us have habits and tendencies and we have no idea why.  I love listing, so let's go.

Where did you get your definition of beauty?
Where did you get your definition of love?
Where did you get your definition of grace?
Where did you get your definition of being a woman?
Where did you get your definition of how to treat men?
Where did you get your definition of how to handle pain?
Where did you learn how to treat women?
Where did you learn how to think about yourself?
Where did you learn how to spend money?
Where did you learn how to dress?
Where did you learn how to be a man?
Where did you learn anything you claim to know?

Was it from the Bible?  Or was it from our culture?  Many of us have been discipled so much by culture it's become much of our identities.  And sadly, we've brought it into our faith.  Our culture is so addicted to fast results and consumerism, and we've entered into the church seeking for the pastor to give us what we want, the worship band to sing the songs we want, and for it to be easy to find a parking spot, I can get in and out, I can get to lunch at a reasonble time, let me out the parking lot first, and on and on it goes.  And God is screaming at us in His word that we must change our minds.  Here's just one example.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is---his good, pleasing, and perfect will.  Romans 12:2.  

That verse is filled with words that we must have our minds renewed before we're even able to understand them.  I wish I had time to unpack it, but we will not understand God's good, pleasing, and perfect will if we have not allowed God's word to define for us what the words good, pleasing, and perfect means to Him.  Because to us, good means I get what I want, pleasing is it feels good, and perfect means nothing goes wrong.  And if you know anything about the Bible, this is not true the slightest bit.  Your prosperity gospel is lying to you, and, let's not even call it the gospel.  Your prosperity garbage is lying to you, and it's conditioning you to be unable to fully grip God's plan for your life, and that it is you get Him and in Him and through Him your overall hope is fully Christ reigning in your life and causing you to lead a life that is missional and sacrificial because your faith is in Jesus and in the hope of eternity---not the new car you're claiming.

Please my readers, hear me.  You're learning it from somewhere.  Even some of you will just take my word for it and run away with something I said, stop it! For God's sake, stop it.  Go and dive in His word, that by itself claims to be the inerrant and perfect word of God, God breathed and God inspired word of God that is ready and waiting to read you and transform you.  We have to open up ourselves to allowing the Bible to redefine things for us.  Culture has taught us what love means...and God's love is so much greater than what culture has taught you.  And you must go read it yourself.
 Thanks for your time.  It's such a honor for me to know people care enough about what I have to say to read these blogs.  I hope they're a blessing for you. Love you all.  Thanks again.