Archive for the ‘Challenge’ Category

In our Church. At bible study. In our homes. In our bible colleges and Seminaries. A word has come into our prayer. 

While scripture describes the Son as “the Word”, I’m not talking about Jesus, he is and will forever be in our worship. I’m talking about a different word. “Just” 

Now… “just” should be used as a describing quality of God. God is just and loving. He is righteous. He is holy. This is how it should be spoken in our Christian lives, but somewhere in the last 10 years, “just” became a way to soften our prayers. 

Many believe that to be “meek” or “humble”, we must become soft and near grove long before God, our King and Lord. Who are we to come in front of God telling him what we want? What we need? What we desire? How could we be so prideful that we would stand and tell God what to give us? So we pray like this:

Lord, we just want to pray that you would give us peace. Just that we would feel your love, Lord. And Lord, that you would just give us our needs, and just help us be happy. Just be with us in our time of need, Lord. In Jesus name we pray, Lord. Amen. 

The author of Hebrews gives us a different command, he tells us to be bold before God. 

Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. (Heb 4:16)

It is with boldness that we are called to approach His throne. With confidence we are to call out to Him. If we are in His will, not only will He answer what we ask for, but we will ask for what He wants us to have. If we are in His will, there is no need to soften our prayer with words like “just”. (We also use “Lord” every few words, softening our impact and taking away from our conversation) Instead, we should boldly stand before God, witnessing our confidence in His greatness and his provision. There is nothing that He will deny us in His will. 

Let’s look at that prayer from before again, without the softening:

Lord, we pray that you would give us peace and that we would feel your love. Give us our needs, and help us be in your will. Be with us in our time of need. In Jesus name we pray. Amen. 

How does that sound? Does that bring a boldness to your Christian walk? Do you feel more in touch with God when praying like the first? Or the second? Does the first or second more closely resemble the prayer we were taught by Jesus? 

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. 

Men, stand up and lead your families boldly, in your homes, in your church, and in your community. 

Until the whole world knows,

Paul

Men,

I’ve been away for a while and I’ll give a full accounting of that time later, but let me just say that you can blame this guy:

ConnorWell, not completely him, some of the blame goes to work, seminary, and my ministry here in Dallas. Sorry for the absence!

 

Now for the reason I’ve returned. Hardcore Christian Men will be going through some growth in the coming weeks and months. At Seminary, I have learned to interpret scripture more completely and accurately. I have learned to use observation, interpretation, correlation, and application to gain a full understanding of the word, and this method is what I will be using moving forward.

I encourage all of you to spend time digging deeper into the word when you study. Look for what the author what saying, not what we want it to say. Keep the text in context, rejecting the trend in our culture to use pick and choose scripture. God calls us to abide in Him and in His Word. This is what I am encouraging you to do. I won’t be walking through scripture here with an exegetical comb, but I am in my daily reading.

See you all soon!

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

In the third chapter of Genesis, things get a little dicey. Different interpreters will say different things about the different characters, so I’m going to keep it simple and just go with the specifics that scripture does give us without looking at any cultural input that may have existed when Moses penned this God inspired book. Chapter 3 starts out telling us about the serpent, telling us that he was crafty, it does not tell us this was Satan, but some believe it was, in any case, the serpent was the one who brought Eve’s attention to the temptation presented by the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent is able to take the words that Adam shared with Eve, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, nether shall you touch it, lest you die” (Gen 3:3, ESV) and twist them. He convinces Eve to try the fruit and then she shares it with Adam, “who was with her” (Gen 3:6, ESV).

adam-and-eve

Here we are, not even halfway through the third chapter of the first book of God’s book, and we find Adam sinning. Many of you may be asking what I mean, it was Eve that sinned, right? Actually, if you believe as I do, you see that it was not Eve’s sin that caused the fall, but Adam’s. Adam was with her when the serpent tempted her. Adam was hanging out, but he wasn’t grabbing the serpent and killing it. Adam was present, but he wasn’t standing between Eve and the tree. Adam was passive.

It was not Eve that God had commanded not eat of the tree, it was Adam. Look at Gen 2:16-17, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (ESV) God spoke this command to the man, not to the woman. It was after this command that God created Eve, trusting Adam to lead her, as she was created as His helper or “ezer”.

So Adam messed up, but God is a forgiving God, right? The first thing that Adam and Eve do after eating the fruit is run to create clothes. As God is all knowing and all present, he knew that they had eaten of the fruit, but he gave them time. Even when he entered the garden, he gave Adam a chance to step forward and confess, but instead Adam and Eve hid from God. When God calls them out, Adam tried the old deflection method (or really the new one as he was the first to use it) and blames the woman that God gave him, thus blaming God for Adam’s failure. Eve is a little more straightforward with it, stating that the serpent deceived her and she ate.

It is here that the curse is laid out. I’ll sum it up quickly here.

1: Serpents will crawl on their belly, and there will be enmity between serpent and woman. (a little more depth but I’ll touch that in a second)

2: Childbirth will be extremely painful, women will desire to control their husband, but will be ruled by them instead.

3: Man will have to work for his food, working the field by the sweat of his brow until he dies and is returned to it.

After this in verse 21, we see the first death. God made garments for them of skins, killing the animals to do this. and then he casts man and woman from the garden.

Whew! Rough chapter! But we also see the first prophecy of Jesus. Look again at the curse to the serpent: Gen 3:15 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Many theologians believe that this references Satan and Jesus. Mark Driscoll shares this “This is the first intimation at a virgin birth. This passage says that the foretold male child would come and battle Satan and that Satan would harm and wound him, but the child ultimately would defeat and crush Satan” (found here). God knew when he created Adam that Adam would fall, but He also planned for the fall and made a way for us to be redeemed, through the blood of Christ, who was crucified on the cross, descended into Hell and defeated Satan, rising on the 3rd day.

So here’s the challenge we face from this passage:

Lead faithfully, not passively. Stand up and defend our family as we lead them on His path.

 

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

Two men talkingI believe we are called to live in our brokenness and not hide from it. Yet it is far to common to act like we have it altogether.  We project images of a great life; we set the stage and tone for others to believe that our life has no flaws.  Our biggest fear lies in others finding out all those secrets we keep hidden about who we really are inside.  The tape plays over and over inside our head – “If anyone really knew these things about you, they would want nothing to do with you.  You are the worst sinner.  You are despicable.  What you deal with, no one else is.  Your just a mess.”  Sadly we believe that tape speaks the truth.

I let that tape play out far to long.  I was not shy about letting others know I followed Christ. I wore t-shirts, listened to the music and bought all the paraphernalia, proudly shoving it in their face.  I made it look good all around.  Yet what was happening at home was a different story.  I lived a very different life, one I was not proud of and kept hidden from others.

I lied, cheated and stole. I downloaded images into my brain that may never leave.  I used others for my own selfish gain.  I spewed words from my mouth I can never take back.  I wished people were dead and I treated some like they were.  I cut ties with people out of frustration and anger.  I enjoyed sabotaging others and talking badly about them.  All of my teens and most of my adult life has been about making really horrible choices.  The worst part being I professed living a Christian life, serving as a leader in church and what I told demonstrated and told others didn’t speak of God changing my heart.  At least not for a very long, long time.

It came to a head when all of my choices now meant I risk losing my family or deal with an addiction out of control.  I began admitting I was tired, worn out and couldn’t keep up the image anymore.  I was mentally and physically exhausted from trying so hard to pretend.  I found some guys, started peeling back the layers and being brutally honest about all I was thinking and dealing with.  It was in those moments amidst anger and tears where I discovered these guys weren’t going to leave me. They didn’t kick me to the curb; instead they loved me in spite of myself.  They loved me, despite all the garbage I shared and stuck beside me as I walked me to a place of healing I had never experienced.

I remember how love in the form of others changed me.  It was through those men that I was able to begin putting words to my story, sharing how I was broken and I saw God working through it.  It gave me the courage to begin sharing my story with others, accepting I was broken and couldn’t do it on my own.  I needed others to walk alongside me.

Since that time I have attempted to live a life of transparency.  Being honest about my struggles and the questions that swim around inside my head.  I still make mistakes and I sill mess up, sadly more than I wish.  I have continued to pray and seek out other guys I can share life with, making ourselves available night or day.

As I continue to pursue relationships where I bare my soul and go deep I often get to a place where I believe they don’t see me as having struggles any longer.  I have somehow gotten past it and have moved forward deepening my walk with Christ.  When I have set backs and I go back to some of my old ways it is then, that I often feel like I can’t be honest and say, you know what, I messed up again. I think to myself, just keep quiet.  You don’t want to look like you are going backwards.  They think you are doing well and you don’t want to prove them wrong.  Just stay quiet and unless someone asks don’t share what’s going on. Meanwhile I pull back, continue to suffer silently once again.

THAT IS RIDICULOUS THINKING

I was having a conversation this past week with a friend who asked why I had been so quiet as of late and why we hadn’t talked.  It was in that discussion where I realized the truth of what I just explained. We both admitted we were guilty of the same conclusion.

I needed that conversation, it was a great reminder – pulling away and masking it, never has and never will work.  We need each other. We are broken, that won’t change this side of heaven.  We need others who are willing to walk through life with us and help us up when we fall down.  We need community where we can share and be ok with our messy lives.

We need to stop pretending, admit when we are failing and be ok with that.  If I have to call my brothers a hundred times and tell them I am struggling, so be it.  The burden falls on the rest of us to help carry those who are weaker and sometimes that means a lot of carrying.

The conversation I had with my friend was also a good reminder of how I want to be living my life.  How I want to set the tone and stage to make it easier for others.  Those are the conversations that remind me of why I need you.

Sometimes things are going well and I feel lime my life is in order.  I am going about my day moving, getting things accomplished, checking off the to do list, engaging well with others and pursuing God with all of my heart.  From the outside looking at me I’ve been told I come across as being organized, structured, disciplined and determined.

Often it feels as though it was more just an outward appearance than what was really going on internally.  I was a wreck – angry, bitter, feeling alone and all I could do to keep it together.  I was going to explode if the right person said or did that one thing to set me off.  I chose to let it all come out at home with my wife and kids.  Unfairly, they are the ones who received the brunt of my release. Adding to my personal frustration was now that I needed to go and apologize once again and make things right.

The more I have pursued wanting nothing but Jesus, the more it seems like I fall into various temptations and trials.  The more I practice surrendering each and every day, the harder it becomes.  Nevertheless my heart is still wanting and desirous of communing with God.  At times I do well battling the war, other times I fall flat on my face and give into temptations.  It’s in giving into those temptations where much of my anger and frustration comes from and really geared towards myself, for my choices and failures to follow God the way I know I should.

When it comes down to it, at the core it is rebellion, plain and simple.  I am making a choice to believe the lies and go against what I know God does not want me to take part in.  I’ve made that choice and know I have distanced myself from God.  I know that I need to run back to him. Grace is there, but often I have used it to excuses and justify my actions. True repentance must occur and I need to go back to putting God first.

I have begun to realize I lack in a lot of disciplines I used to make a regular practice.  Reading my Bible and praying I do almost every day.  Things such as fasting, being quiet and listening for God to speak, Sabbath, tithing and earnestly praying are not things I have done inconsistently.  While I have done many of them often times I do it just to go through the motions.  It is not really a discipline or practice, it’s just an activity.

I have failed to do many of those things more times than I can count.  It comes down to taking my eyes of Jesus, allowing other things to become more important than him.  Despite my best efforts, when I don’t seek him first in all I do, I get lazy, apathetic and chose not to practice the very things that are essential to my spiritual health, which in turn affects all other areas of my health – mentally and physically.

The distractions of this world will always remain and I can easily get caught up in them.  When I chose to put God back in the place he belongs my heart softens, my body relaxes, the tension releases and joy is restored to my life.  I have nothing to be ashamed of or hide and I don’t have to carry around the weight of my sin.  God does offer that when we come to him.

Trials are always going to be there.  It doesn’t get easier, but I know that I have made a lot of it harder because I chose to fill my life with things that took me away from God instead of drawing close and clinging to him.  As I move forward my choice to fully surrender and fully give myself to him is what I want more than anything else.  Everything else has left me empty and drained and that is not the life I want.

Creation-hands-L

After completing the first telling of Creation, Genesis grows more specific. The second creation tale is God’s creation of man. In Genesis 2:7 we read that “The Lord God formed the man from the soil of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,and the man became a living being.” This creation is an even more hotly debated topic than the creation of the earth, with many, believers and non-believers alike, arguing for evolution. My argument here is and will always be that God is all powerful. I don’t know the exacts of man’s creation, but I do know that God created man, not random chance. I don’t pretend to know the science of it, but I do know that arguing anything else doesn’t win believers, it simply causes arguments.

After creating Adam, God placed him in an orchard that He created, a place called Eden.In Eden, God gave Adam a job to care for an maintain the garden, giving him freedom to eat of every plant except one, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Of this tree, God commanded that Adam was not to eat. He also saw Adam and said “It is not good for the man to be alone.I will make a companionfor him who corresponds to him.” Bringing each of the animals he had created, God had Adam name them, but he found no suitable companion for man. At this God forced Adam to fall asleep and he created Eve from Adam’s rib. On waking, Adam was pleased, and scripture tells us the we are to leave our family and join with our wife, becoming a new family.

So what does this mean to you and me, the Christian man? God stated that it is not good for man to be alone. This tells us that we are not meant to be loners, but we are meant to live in community with others. It is also in this passage that marriage is defined, a man joins with a woman and becomes a new family. While these are important, I believe the most important is what is meant by companion. Different translations use “helper”, “partner”, or “companion” here, but the original Hebrew uses ‘ezer. Throughout scripture, ‘ezer is most often translated as “helper”, but the English word is very limited in it’s meaning. The Hebrew word means much more that a person who helps, it is the person to turn to in times of need, the partner in good things, and the companion in the calm.

Men sometimes take the word helper (in addition to some other scriptures) to mean that he is supposed to dominate his wife and all women. Some even go so far as to declare that no woman deserves anything apart from her husband or father. This is seen outside of the church as well, in our culture and in others. But that is a violation of scripture’s meaning. God wanted a companion for Adam, not a slave or servant. He could find those in the animals. What could not be found was a companion.

So here is my challenge to you men. If you do not already, treat your wife as a companion. Put her in front of your friends and in front of yourself. Love her as Christ loves the Church, don’t rule her like a slave holder.

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.

creationAnd the arguments began.

So, the first chapter of Genesis, the first chapter of scripture, was written by Moses and inspired by God. What does that mean for us? What can Moses, a man who was born so long before modern scientific methods, tell us about the creation of everything? To tell the truth, I’m not sure that Moses could tell us much. If we look at his writings, they describe events at least 1000 years before he lived. But God on the other hand; God can tell us a lot. And that is what I believe he does in Genesis.

So what does Genesis 1 tell us? God tells us that the earth and everything on it was created in 6 days, but modern science tells us that isn’t possible. So is Genesis 1 wrong? I don’t believe so. When we examine God’s qualities, we see Him as omnipotent. This means He is all powerful. He can do anything, so He can create the Heavens and the Earth in 6 days. He can do it in a second if he wants. Or He can do it in billions (or more) of years. So is Genesis possible, sure, and God could even make it so we couldn’t tell that it was done this way. I’m not saying He did, but I am saying God is all powerful. So the timeline is an argument point.

Most religions believe in a creation story, and most line up pretty well with what we read in Genesis 1, but they differ in a few key points, one of these is who was the creator. Even Atheists have theories on this, ranging from random chance to an alien race (but who created them I ask). So who is the creator? I believe that this is the question that Genesis 1 is answering, not the how, but the who. And I believe that the who is God. We see reference to all three persons of God being involved in the creation:

Father: Gen 1:1 In the beginningGodcreatedthe heavens and the earth.

Son: John 1:1-5 In the beginningwas the Word, and the Word was with God,and the Word was fully God.The Word was with God in the beginning. All things were createdby him, and apart from him not one thing was createdthat has been created.In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind.  And the light shines on in the darkness,but the darkness has not mastered it.

Holy Ghost: Gen 1:2 Nowthe earthwas without shape and empty,and darknesswas over the surface of the watery deep,but the Spirit of Godwas movingover the surfaceof the water.

So the who is answered here. Now let me hit the big one for us here at Hardcore Christian Men. What does this mean for a God’s man?

Gen 1: 26-30 Then God said, “Let us makehumankindin our image, after our likeness,so they may ruleover the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth,and over all the creatures that moveon the earth.” God created humankindin his own image, in the image of God he created them,male and female he created them.God blessedthem and saidto them, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it!Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground.”Then God said, “I now give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the entire earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.And to all the animals of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I giveevery green plant for food.” It was so.

In this passage, God gives us a job. We were created in His image, and we were created to rule over the world. We were created to multiply and fill the earth. We were created to eat and enjoy the earth. The things that stand out to me in this section is that we were created in His image (both man and woman) and that we are to rule over everything on the earth. So what does this mean? If we look at how we’ve lived here so far, it does seem that we’ve subdued it, but I question if we’ve ruled it as scripture teaches us to.

Throughout the Bible, we are given examples of good rulers and bad. From David to Herod, we are shown different styles of rule, but all fall short of the example God showed in His Son, Jesus. So what is the example the Jesus shows us? I’ve hit on this topic many times, but this question is one that theologians have been studying and discussing since he walked the earth. The key to the discussion is love. Jesus showed us how to be a leader by being a servant. That is what we must do.

Genesis 1 teaches me that we as God’s men are called to rule the earth through servant leadership and love. Are you up to the challenge?

Until the Whole World Knows,

Paul

When I had turned 18, had graduated high school and was ready to start my life.  That involved getting a job, finding an apartment, purchasing a car and having all the responsibilities that come with that.  Since I moved out of the town my parents lived, I was now in the city and experiencing a life that was different.  I could make all my own decisions and I was responsible for no one but myself.  It was the freedom I had been talking about and dreaming of for years.

At that time making money was the most important thing, supporting myself took precedence over a church I could belong to.  I was able to find one and I attended for a while but money became my ultimate God.  I stopped attending and continued working 1 – 2 jobs to support myself even after college and up until my wife and I were dating.  By this time I had moved a few times, found a regular Monday – Friday job and was able to again begin attending church.

When I finally found a church I could call home and began getting involved I noticed their seemed to be a lot of retired men and women attending.  There was a mix of both young and old, but the older folks kept to themselves and didn’t interact much with folks my age or younger.  At that point the last thing I wanted was some older person telling me how to live my life or what to do and that mindset continued for many years.

Since then I have been involved in a variety of churches and I have come to see the same thing.  The gap between young adults and senior citizen is widening year by year.  Somehow we have failed to connect both generations.  There is a bridge that needs to be built and yet I see very few trying to accomplish this.  I understand as young adults, we as men believe we have it all figured out.  We have all the answers and the last thing we need is someone telling us how to live our lives.  I am well aware, because I believed this to be true for myself.  I also understand from older folks, they feel they are intruding and have nothing in common with the younger generation.  Both sides have fears and it is those fears that keep the two generations from being united.

At some point late in my 30’s I began to see the foolishness of my thinking. I missed some wonderful opportunities to share in the life of an older man or couple and gain wisdom on how to conduct myself, raise kids and be a better husband.  My wife and I started discussing this and both agreed we need to find a couple or individuals who we could build relationships with and allow them to speak into our lives and provide us with insights and wisdom from their own life experiences.  So we began praying, I prayed continually God would connect me with the right man.  After several years and attempts to connect I am happy to say our prayers have been answered.  We have met an older couple and each week for over a year I have been meeting with an older man.  The times we connect with these folks are such good times and we feel as though we have benefited greatly.

We are still lacking in so many ways as a body.  There is so much to learn from those who have already been down those roads.  To sit and listen as they share about their lives, hear stories and understand life lessons experienced speaks volumes.   We are not too old to have them be part of our lives.  As younger men and women we need realize our foolishness in thinking we have our lives all figured out.  We may have had parents who failed us, hurt us and left us with wounds; however we can allow the love from God to be experienced through an older generation who needs to pour out their love on others.

Please know this those of you that are 50 and over, you are needed.  You may have no one in your life and yet there are younger people who need you.  You may feel like you have nothing to contribute, you will be in the way or you just aren’t able to relate.  You can relate in more ways than you know.  You have plenty to contribute, you have life experiences and you are needed to impact the future generations, even if you didn’t make good choices early on, you can use those as examples of wisdom learned.

My hope is the body will purposely find ways to break down the walls.  Create ways to engage both.  Ask retired men and women to help out in the Youth Groups, speak at events, serve, and pair them up with young couples about to enter into marriage and starting families. (You know they have the time).  Create ways for younger aged folks to celebrate and serve.  Invite them over to your homes for holidays, events at school or just to hang out and play games or watch a movie.

As I get older I don’t want to settle into a life of feeling like I am not important, valuable or have something to offer.  Part of the reason I stepped into the role of a Youth Pastor years ago was my love of kids and the energy they held.  That excited me and pushed me forward.  I have no plans to settle as I get older, but to find ways to continually invest in others, both young and old.  How are you helping to close the gap on the generations?

Jesus explained in Matthew 20:21-28 and again in Mark 10:35-45 that anyone wanting to be great would have to be the least.  Jesus did not come to be served but to serve.  Jesus modeled this in all he did.  Eventually he did so by dying the horrible death of crucifixion to endure the weight of our sins.

When Jesus walked the earth he didn’t do it in grand splendor we would think deserving of a king.  He hung around prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers and various other folks who no one wanted anything to do with.  He ate with them, spent time engaging with them.

Jesus wasn’t troubled with looks or acquiring status.  He was comfortable in his own skin and knew what mattered was what goes on inside our hearts.  One of the supreme examples of serving someone can be found at the last supper.  Jesus washes the disciple’s feet.  He gets down on his hands and knees and washes their feet.  To me that is exceptionally humbling.  I don’t care for feet and the last thing I want to do is touch someone’s feet.  To lower myself and wash someone’s feet would be a big deal.  I’ve been on a retreat before where I actually washed another person’s feet.  At one point during one of my wife’s pregnancies I washed her feet, rubbed lotion on them and massaged them.  For me to move past my intense dislike of feet and actually do this was truly done out of love.

Leadership is something we strive for.  To lead, reign or rule means one way or another you have established you have what it takes to lead others.  Many get into positions of power because all they can see is a title or a position with the ability to command others.  This goes entirely against the model Jesus presents for us.  He came to serve others without expecting anything in return.

I believe as men we are called to lead through serving.  We are to be an example with our words and actions of what it means to serve others.  This means serving the needs of my wife and kids.  Often I have to check my motives.  I come home from work and find the house isn’t cleaned the way I expected.  Chores haven’t been done, laundry needs to be folded, dinner still needs to be made and a kid needs someone to hear what they have to say.  I can come in and start demanding things get done right away and begin telling everyone what needs to be done.  I can complain, roll my eyes and sigh loudly.  OR – I can walk in, lovingly greet everyone and begin tackling what needs to be done.

I sit in positions of leadership in other areas of my life.  I have stepped into those roles with the mindset of serving others.  My mindset is when I have it in my ability to do good; I will do just that.  I want others to feel like they are seen and heard, hear beyond the words they speak and catch a glimpse into their heart.  Part of my belief is also reminding myself that in order to serve others I must never think highly of myself.

Serving others may mean I have to dust, mop and put laundry away.  It may mean I have to pick up the trash lying around my neighborhood, spending time talking to someone when I have something else I need to do.  There are so many ways in which serving others allows us to disregard our egos, humble ourselves and do what is needed with a positive attitude.  When we serve the needs of others, we begin to demonstrate the love Jesus has for all of us.  Serving others with no expectations may not make you the ruler of an empire, but it will be the place in which your actions back up your words and you set an example that is contagious.

Are we really living?  Are we really impacting the world in the ways Jesus would want us to?  Do we really look at how our lives match up with what Jesus says?  Have we settled into a version of Americanized Christianity that makes it easy for us to live and yet we feel like we are doing what Jesus called us to do?

Honestly, I do not believe the majority of us are.  I think we take his words and look at them through the lens of our culture and what it tells us.  We dissect them, we look up various meanings for words to better understand them, and yet we are still left with not really living them.

How many of us go to church each week, a bible study or other church activities, hear what is spoken, but a few hours later can’t even remember what was spoken?  How many of us just read the Bible on a regular basis just because we feel it is the thing to do, but fail to act and follow the words of Jesus.

As I was reading Luke 6:27 – 49 – it hit me that many of the things Jesus calls us to do, we do not really live out day to day.  They are great principles to live by, but really implementing them into my life and living them out is a different story.

  • Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
  • If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also.  If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
  • Do to others as you would have them do to you.  “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.
  • Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
  • Do not judge, and you will not be judged.
  • Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
  • Forgive, and you will be forgiven
  • Give, and it will be given to you
  • For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
  • Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
  • For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

I am more and more challenged by the letters in red in my Bible.  Jesus has so plenty to say on how we live, treat and love others.  So many times, I have heard his words but have never really lived them out.  I do not want to live that way anymore.  As he asks, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?  I cannot continue in the way I have lived, I must live differently.  His words must penetrate deep within and I need to begin implementing these words into everything I do?

How do you live out the letters in Red?  What words speak to you that you need to begin living out in ways you have not been?