Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Forgiveness: The Michael Vick Story

Anyone who is a football fan knows of the Michael Vick saga. For those who don't, here is a short overview. 

Vick was a quaterback for the Falcons and he led a secret life of dog fighting. He would buy dogs and train them to kill other dogs for fun and to gamble on. He was caught and sentenced to 2 years in a federal prision. He served his time, and was released. Since then he is back in the NFL playing quaterback for the Eagles. This season, he has had what some people say his best season ever as a pro. He is in the discussion this season as the NFL MVP. 
Now everyone today either loves or hates Vick, and the majority of people today hate him. What he did was absoluty horrendous. If you have seen any of the pictures from the dogs, then you understand how bad this was. The pictures make me sick just looking at them. I am a huge dog lover and I can't stand the thought of anyone hurting a dog, or even training them to kill each other is horrible.

But, Vick has served his time. While in prision, he was councled by Tony Dungy, one of the greatest Christian ambassadors in the NFL ever. He helped Vick turn his life around. Once released, he was watched closely by Rodger Godell, the comissioner of the NFL. He was making sure that Vick really did change his life and that he was becoming a better person. Dungy and Godell didn't care about his football skills, he cared about Vick becoming a better human being.

So, how should we react to Vick playing in the NFL again and being so successful? Plain and simple, we should support Vick and encourage him in brotherly love. Vick repented of his actions and is moving on. We don't judge people on their past, but we encourage them on who they are becoming. Vick is trying to become a model citizen. I do not know his relationship with Christ, but I have faith that Dungy spent a ton of time teaching him the Word. But that shouldn't make a difference on how we should react to him. How do we react to lost people we see at the store? Do we instantly hate and judge them? No! We love, support, and teach them the Word.

Someone once challenged me and said, "How would you react if Osama Bin Laden repented, became a Christian, and started to spread the good news of the Gospel?" Would we still have the same hatred and anger towards him for what he did?

The thing we need to understand is that we have been forgiven of our sins toward God and we should forgive just as we have been forgiven! 
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,  until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Matthew 18:21-35

So, Vick, I know you will never read this, but I forgive you from what you did. I hope and pray that you will live a Christ honoring life from now on. I pray that your actions now on the football field and your actions off the field will be blessed and that God will use you in a powerful way to show Himself to others.

I also pray that for those of you who read this, that you will forgive others just as Christ has forgiven you. No matter how bad the sin was or how many times it happend, that you will forgive them and love them as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Power of Weakness.....

I love the Old Testament. There are so many great stories in there that we always seem to miss or look past. In church today, all we talk about is always Jesus and Paul's letters (that's not a bad thing, but my point is that we are missing out on some great stuff in the OT)

But quite possibly my favorite passage of scripture is in 2 Chronicles 20 with Jehoshaphat. Setting up the story.  Jehoshaphat is a king and he is about to be attacked from 2 different armies. With his army he does not stand a chance against one army, much less both. Once he found out he was about to be attacked and could not win, there becomes mass panic. People are freaking out, they keep shouting to the king, "What do we do!? How can we beat this army?! Can you protect us?!" There is shouting, panic, and confusing running throughout Judah.  Everyone is looking toward Jehoshaphat to answer these questions; their lives are at stake. 

So, the king, the one who is supposed to have all the answers, gets up. But instead of shouting out orders and commands to the people on what to do, he looks at them and tells them, "I don't know what to do, but I know who has the answers."

Imagine if you were one of the people there when he said that. A king. The guy who should be ready for everything and a guy of complete and total power over everything, says, "I don't know what to do" The panic level must have went through the roof then! What do you do when your leader does not know the answers or what to do?

But Jehoshaphat, is all his wisdom, goes prays, and  in this prayer is my favorite verse in the bible. He says at the end of his prayer, "We don't know what to do, but our eyes are on you" (2 Chronicles 20:12)

Then right after the prayer he "bows his head with his face to the ground.......worshiping the LORD" (2 Chronicles 20:18)

The next day, the people wake up and get ready for battle. They put on their armor, grab their swords and get ready for a battle that they know they will lose. Their king doesn't even know what to do. The army marches into the battle field expecting to see two massive armies ready to kill all of them. But to their amazement, they see the armies, but the two armies have fought each other and destroyed themselves.

God had put the armies against each other and protected Judah. Why? Not because he was looking for something fun to do; but because Jehoshaphat, the king, knew that he was weak and that God is strong. He was not afraid to admit that he had absolutely no power that wasn't given to him from God.

I love this!

I consider myself a leader, and teacher, but all of my abilities are not of my own doing. While we are weak, God is strong. It's okay not to always have all the answers. Because we have contact with the person who does! So my point here is that any leaders who read this, you show your power and leadership qualities when you admit weakness to God. When you submit yourself to God's will and not your own. Also, for people who are stressed out with so much going on, you can't do it all on your own. Admit weakness and ask the one who knows you better than yourself the answers. There is so much power in our weakness.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The 'F' word

While I was home for Thanksgiving seeing all my family and friends, all of them kept asking me the same questions. "What's the plan after graduation?" "What are you going to do in the future?" "What are your future plans?" Everyone wants to know these questions. For a long time, I've always wondered what God has planned for me in my future. It's kinda scary to think about it too. I don't really like to talk about it much, because I don't know what's going to happen. I normally just remove the word future from my vocabulary so I don't have to worry about it.

I don't consider myself 'good' at much of anything. I'm not going to be some super business guy or successful CEO or anything like that. I am called to the ministry, and I fully know and understand that I'm mot going to be some rich guy, who can retire early and live a comfortable life. My future is not going to be easy. It's going to be hard and involve a ton of sacrifice. I've accepted that though, that's not what scares me about my future. The part I worry about is what and where I will be. Is God going to call me to go back to a church and be a children's minister again? Am I going to get a secular job with kids? Who knows. (well only God does) Heck, God might call me to go back to Africa. It's not out of the realm of possibility.

While thinking about this though, I keep remembering Matthew 6:34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Tomorrow is not my problem, or not something for me to worry about. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" It's so reassuring to me to know that all my future plans are already set and planned out. I don't have to worry about my future and what's going to happen to me after college. God has never turned away from me and He never will. He has used me in a ton of different places so far in my life (Africa, Kentucky, Missouri, Philippines, New Orleans, ect.) and I'm sure he has more great things in store for me in the future. I don't know what's going to happen, all I know is that I'm called to be in Bolivar now. What happens in the future, I don't know. But it's going to be exciting to see!

Monday, December 6, 2010


Normally I'm never much of a home body, but over the last 3 months I've been really bummed out that I'm not home. It really hit me hard today when I found out about the sudden passing of Robin. While she is not family by blood, she is someone who I say is just a part of my family as my own brother. Within the last 3 months my uncle Kevin tragicly passed away, now Robin.  Needless to say this has been a rough couple of months. Being so far away from home has just sucked. I really don't have a point here, I just want to take this time to say to Kevin and Robin, I love you both so much and I can't wait to spend eternity with you in heaven.

Every time I hear this song, I'm thinking of you:

Verse 1
all that is behind me, this mess of life
where out of nothing came a beautiful design (1 Corinthians 1:26-28)
know that I've had but a taste of a deathless wine (Matthew 26:27-28)
so I give up the flame to the hands beside
and I'll be waiting

Where the desert is covered in roses (Isaiah 35:1)
where I can outshine the stars in a single day (1 John 2:25)
the face of God isn't hidden (Revelation 22:4)
when I wake into eternity (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

where the shadows are never discovered (Revelation 22:5)
tears are nothing more than a memory (Revelation 21:4)
death isn't alive any longer (Revelation 20:14)
when I wake into eternity

verse 2
now I know I see it in your eyes
you knew at some point that we'd have to say goodbye (Hebrews 9:27)
I looked for this moment for all my life
to be caught away in the arms of God (Philippians 1:23)
and I'll be waiting

when I awake I'll see Your face
when I awake I'll see Your face (Revelation 22:4)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Great Debate

Ever since I moved to Missouri, (and even while I was back in Kentucky) most Christians I meet always seem to ask me the big question.... What is my opinion on calvanism. I always seem to get asked this question. It never fails. I can't go a week now without someone saying something about it to me. They always seem to tell me why they are or are not a calvanist and why people who are or are not calvanists are going to hell. And I'm going to use this space to tell everyone my opinion on it now.

I don't care!!!

Don't tell me your a calvanist and why you are. Because I don't give a rip. I honestly don't right now. Nor have I cared about who is a calvinist. Because it alwyas ends up being some stupid debate on how many points I am, and how many points they are.  Honestly, it's just stupid. We always seem to have some dumb debate between christians about theology when there are bigger issues out there right now. I love Jesus, and if you love Jesus, that's all I really care about. Now let's go tell other people we love Jesus.

When I was in South Africa, not once was I asked if I was a calvinist, or a old-earth creationist. Not once.  Why? Because no one cares! All they care about is if you love Jesus. That's it! Nothing else matters. And they are exactly right too. Nothing else really does matter. If you want to come and debate me about calvinism, save your energy. In fact, use that energy to tell lost people about Jesus! 

It seems to me that most christians want to debate other brothers and sisters in Christ about calvinism. And we shouldn't do that. We are called to spread the gospel to the lost, not debate between ourselves. So let's go do it.

Now, don't get me wrong here, for young christians, it's very important to get your theology straight and there is nothing wrong with asking questions, but if your looking for a debate, look somewhere else.

Maybe I'm wrong with this whole idea, but I'm just sick of debating people about it.

I just wanna love Jesus and tell others about Him.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Neutered Gospel?

Last night, I had the opportunity to teach the college group at church. While I was extremely nervous, (because I always freak out when I talk in front of people) I really did enjoy the experience. I received a ton of good feedback from people at the church. For those of you who were there and supported me...Thank you s much, I love you all.  For those of you who were not there and are curious, here is a small recap of the lesson from last night:

As I was coming home from Kentucky, I spent some time thinking about why I am not content with my life right now. I'm just not happy. I've been in some bad relationships and done some things I'm not proud of. But few people know about these things, while I'm out at school and work, I appear to be a happy normal red haired kid. I'm very good at hiding my own sin and my own shame.  I think many of us are doing the same thing as well.

But hiding ourselves is not what we see in the Bible. Mark 4:22 says, "For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light." (ESV) Everything we do is now known by Christ. He knows our deepest darkest sins, thoughts, motives, and actions. Yet we continue to hide ourselves from others, and from Christ. And we shouldn't be like that. We need to be transparent; we need to quit turning our back to Christ and others. We do this because we want to show others that we don't sin, or that our sin is small.Charles Spurgeon said, "If your sin is small, then your savior is small. If your sin is big then your savior is big" We have a big and great savior in Jesus. So we need to take joy not in the fact that our sins are small or not real, but that they ARE real, and that our savior is real.  The only way fr us to remember this is to have the gospel preached to us over, and over again. Preached to us in a way that it offends us.

But we don't do that. Why? We don't like to preach a gospel that offends people. We preach a watered down gospel. I really think we do this so we are not confrontational and so we do not get ourselves in trouble. The truth is you cannot preach the gospel without getting into trouble. Because the gospel is offensive. "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Matthew 10:34-36)

Preaching the gospel is preaching with a sword. It is offensive. The gospel is offensive. That's just what the gospel is. It is both beautiful and offensive. But we don't like to preach a offensive gospel, we just want to dress it up and teach a watered down gospel. When we do that, when we try to stay safe with the gospel, we neuter the gospel. We cut off the offense, and by doing that we cut off the beautiful part as well.

Then I start to think, why do we do that? I think it is because we have a wrong view of Jesus. Jesus is not some Galilean peasant hippie, walking around in his sandals drinking Starbucks, looking for nice people to do aromatherapy and talk about his feelings. We need a bigger Jesus than that. And we see this in Revelation 19.

"Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords."

That is the Jesus we worship. That is the Jesus we need to preach to each other. A Jesus that offends people and a Jesus that is not safe. But the same Jesus that knows all our sins, motives, thoughts, and actions and frees us from hiding.  We need to stop neutering the gospel and robbing it of is offense and therefore its beauty as well. We are called to be bold ambassadors of Christ and it's time we start doing it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ten Reasons To Not Ask Jesus Into Your Heart

I've always had a problem with the wording of "Asking Jesus into your heart" and when I read this, I just have to share it. Some of the reasons seem to be a little bit of a stretch, but that still doesn't change the fact that the wording is just not Biblical. And it's a good read with some things to think about when we evangelize. I struggle with how to find a way to explain this to children in a way they can understand. Normally I just get a bunch of blank stares and confused looks. Any thoughts or ways you have tried to ask for a response for children of youth?


1. It is not in the Bible. There is not a single verse that even hints we should say a prayer inviting Jesus into our hearts. Some use Rev. 3:20. To tell us that Jesus is standing at the door of our hearts begging to come in.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” There are two reasons that interpretation is wrong.
The context tells us that the door Jesus is knocking on is the door of the church, not the human heart. Jesus is not knocking to enter someone’s heart but to have fellowship with His church.Even if the context didn’t tell us this, we would be forcing a meaning into the text (eisegesis). How do we know it is our heart he is knocking at? Why not our car door? How do we know he isn’t knocking on our foot? To suggest that he is knocking on the door of our heart is superimposing a meaning on the text that simply does not exist.
The Bible does not instruct us to ask Jesus into our heart. This alone should resolve the issue, nevertheless, here are nine more reasons.

2. Asking Jesus into your heart is a saying that makes no sense. What does it mean to ask Jesus into your heart? If I say the right incantation will He somehow enter my heart? Is it literal? Does He reside in the upper or lower ventricle? Is this a metaphysical experience? Is it figurative? If it is, what exactly does it mean? While I am certain that most adults cannot articulate its meaning, I am certain that no child can explain it. Pastor Dennis Rokser remindsus that little children think literally and can easily be confused (or frightened) at the prospect of asking Jesus into their heart.

3. In order to be saved, a man must repent (Acts 2:38). Asking Jesus into your heart leaves out the requirement of repentance.

4. In order to be saved, a man must trust in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31).Asking Jesus into your heart leaves out the requirement of faith.

5. The person who wrongly believes they are saved will have a false sense of security. Millions of people who sincerely, but wrongly, asked Jesus into their hearts think they are saved but struggle to feel secure. They live in doubt and fear because they do not have the Holy Spirit giving them assurance of salvation.

6. The person who asks Jesus into his heart will likely end up inoculated, bitter and backslidden. Because he did not get saved by reciting a formulaic prayer, he will grow disillusioned with Jesus, the Bible, church and fellow believers. His latter end will be worse than the first.

7. It presents God as a beggar just hoping you will let Him into your busy life. This presentation of God robs Him of His sovereignty.

8. The cause of Christ is ridiculed. Visit an atheist web-site and read the pagans who scoff, “How dare those Christians tell us how to live when they get divorced more than we do? Who are they to say homosexuals shouldn’t adopt kids when tens of thousands of orphans don’t get adopted by Christians?” Born again believers adopt kids and don’t get divorced.
People who ask Jesus into their hearts do. Jesus gets mocked when false converts give Him a bad name.

9. The cause of evangelism is hindered. While it is certainly easier to get church members by telling them to ask Jesus into their hearts, try pleading with someone to make today the day of their salvation. Get ready for a painful response. “Why should I become a Christian when I have seen so called Christians act worse than a pagan?” People who ask Jesus into their hearts give pagans an excuse for not repenting.

10. Here is the scary one. People who ask Jesus into their hearts are not saved and they will perish on the Day of Judgment. How tragic that millions of people think they are right with God when they are not. How many people who will cry out, “Lord, Lord” on judgment day will be “Christians” who asked Jesus into their hearts?